Saturday, November 30, 2013

60 Minute French Bread

This is a fast, easy, bread to make to go along with any dinner and the bread is so good. I am so glad I tried yet another French bread recipe because I love this one. It's from the blog Jamie Cooks it up. I was so surprised that it was made from start to finish in one hour. And it makes 3 loaves! We only ate one loaf with cheesy chicken and rice soup the other night, so I put the other 2 loaves in the freezer and I plan on making garlic bread with them to go with spaghetti and meatballs.

60 Minute French Bread

1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening (I used butter flavored)
1 cup cold water
5-6 cups bread flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Fill a glass measuring cup with 1 cup of water; microwave until boiling, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill another glass measuring cup with 1/3 cup warm water. Stir 1 tablespoon of yeast into the water with a fork. Stir until yeast is completely dissolved. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together: 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of shortening; pour the 1 cup of boiling water over these ingredients and mix for about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup COLD water. Pour in the yeast/water mixture. Add 3 cups of bread flour and turn mixer on to slow speed. Add flour one cup at a time until you have a fairly firm dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (for me I added about 2 1/2 more cups of flour for a total of 5 1/2 cups of flour used). Knead dough on high speed for 8 minutes. Let dough rest in bowl of mixer for 5 minutes.

Turn out dough onto a non-stick sprayed surface. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Let dough rest for another 5 minutes.

Take one section of dough and press into a rectangle with your fingers. Roll from smaller side, tucking under ends and sealing seams. Place on a non-stick sprayed cookie sheet. Repeat with other 2 dough pieces. Cut 3-4 angled slits in the formed loaves. Beat egg in a small bowl until frothy. Brush each loaf with beaten egg (this gives it a nice shiny crust).

Place cookie sheet with loaves into the preheated 170 degree oven and let rise for about 15 minutes (leave oven at 170, don't turn it off). Turn up oven to 400 degrees, leave loaves in oven while it comes up to temperature, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops of loaves are golden. Turn down oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove loaves from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Monday, November 25, 2013

No-Bake Individual Creamy Pumpkin Pies

Sometimes pumpkin pie can be a little heavy. This is a great, creamy, pumpkin pie treat that is not heavy at all. It's actually more like a light pumpkin cheesecake and it's made in individual servings - yummy and cute! So if you're looking for a different pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving, give this a try. It's really delicious.

No-Bake Individual Creamy Pumpkin Pies

1 sleeve graham crackers (9 sheets of crackers)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

8 oz package cream cheese, softened
15 oz can pumpkin
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1, 1 oz package sugar-free cheesecake instant pudding mix
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz tub Cool Whip, thawed

prepared whipped cream
ginger snap cookies

Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crackers are ground into fine crumbs. Add melted butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Pulse until combined. Place 2 tablespoons of this mixture into the bottom of 10-12 half pint canning jars, ramakins, or small plastic cups and press with a spoon just to make crust an even layer. Place jars in fridge to set while you make the filling.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat cream cheese until light and creamy. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and instant pudding mix and beat until completely mixed, scraping down sides of the bowl. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix until combines. Mix in Cool Whip until well combined. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and allow to chill in fridge for 1 hour.

Place chilled filling in a pastry bag with large tip, or use a large ziplock and snip the corner off. Pipe the filling into the jars on top of the graham cracker crusts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, top individual pie with whipped cream and a ginger snap cookie if desired.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thin Pizza Crust Dough (makes 2 large pizzas)

This is a great pizza crust recipe from Pioneer Woman. I had been wanted to try this for a while, but I kept forgetting to make it early in the week, the dough ages for 2-4 days in the fridge. Finally, I just made it one Wednesday morning and on Friday night baked it into the most wonderful thin crust pizzas. The finished pizzas reminded me of Ledo's Pizza, one of our favorite pizza places when we lived in Maryland. Really, really yummy. I am a huge fan of thin crust pizza, but about half of the rest of my family likes thicker crusts, so I'll probably rotate this recipe with my ususal pizza recipe for future pizza nights.

As a Note: I've seen this dough listed with 1 teaspoon of yeast and with 2 teaspoons of yeast and I'm sure either would work, though this time I used 1 teaspoon of yeast and with the 2 1/2 days of proofing time in the fridge it worked great. I would probably use 2 teaspoons of yeast if I was making this dough for use on the same day.

Thin Pizza Crust Dough

1 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil

In a measuring cup, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour and salt. Add olive oil and mix until just combined. Add yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined and dough pulls cleanly away from the bowl. Spray the inside of a large ziplock bag with cooking spray. Place dough in bag and seal. Place in the fridge for 2-4 days. *Alternatively, if making pizza the same day you can place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for a couple of hours.

Making Pizzas:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Take 1/2 of the dough and roll it out to the size of a cookie sheet. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray and place rolled out dough on cookie sheet, stretching out dough to the edges. Repeat with other half of the dough. Top uncooked crusts with pizza sauce, then shredded mozzarella, and toppings of choice. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly - I found cooking pizzas on bottom racks helps them cook on top and bottom best. Remove from oven and cut into squares.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fluffy Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

This is a great recipe for whole wheat bread that rises well, slices well, and has a very light texture - perfect for sandwich bread. In fact I make this bread when I want homemade bread for our sandwiches for dinner nights (one of my kids' favorite meals). The secret to a good rise is the vital wheat gluten. It will rise without the gluten, but I find adding a little gluten really helps, especially at the high altitude I cook at (over 6000 ft.). Also using white whole wheat flour helps this bread to have a fluffy texture, but you can use regular whole wheat flour instead.

As a note: I made this bread in a Bosch mixer, which allows me to make this bread really fast. The 10 minutes kneading time in the Bosch makes it so you don't have to have 2 rises. Of course you can make this bread in a different stand mixer or by hand. If making this bread by hand I would allow the dough 2 rises; once after initial mixing in an oiled bowl and then after the loaves are shaped and put in bread pans. 

Fluffy Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

2 3/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar (or honey)
1/4 cup oil (or melted butter)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 heaping tablespoon vital wheat gluten (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup white bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
4-6 cups white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with dough hook, mix together warm water, sugar, oil, yeast, vital gluten, dry milk, and white bread flour. Mix until combined. Add 2 cups of the wheat flour and 1 tablespoon of salt. Mix. Continue adding wheat flour until the dough forms a ball and the sides of the bowl are mostly cleaned, for me I added 3 1/2 cups more for a total of 5 1/2 cups of wheat flour. The dough should be soft, but not overly sticky. Knead with dough hook on high for 10 minutes.

Grease 2 loaf pans generously with cooking spray. Turn dough out onto a non-stick sprayed surface. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place loaves into the bread pans and cover with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 50-90 minutes (time will depend on how warm your kitchen is) or until dough rises about an inch to an inch and a half over the pan. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake risen loaves at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top and loaves sound hallow when you tap them. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter if desired. Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cheeseburger Chowder

This might be a horrible picture, it's so dark at dinner time right now, but this is a delicious soup. I got this recipe years ago from an episode of Sara Moulton's show, Cooking Live, on the Food Network (does anyone else remember that show - I loved it), though I have recently seen this recipe pop up all over the place on Pinterest. It is just a wonderful soup that tastes a lot like a cheeseburger. It's thick and rich and cheesy. Yum. I served it with some homemade Italian bread and it was a great dinner for a cold night - totally family pleasing.

Cheeseburger Chowder

1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups diced potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
16 oz Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1/4 cup sour cream
Topping: shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, or pickles (optional)

In a large saucepan or soup pot, brown ground beef. Drain and remove from pan, set aside.

In the same pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until vegetables a few minutes then add basil and parsley. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add broth, browned beef, and diced potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. 

In a small saucepan melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1/3 cup flour and whisk. Cook, whisking, for a minute. Add this roux to the soup and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat and add cubed Velveeta, milk, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Serve individual servings with shredded cheese and or diced tomatoes and pickles (I know it sounds gross, but it is actually so tasty!).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

Oh man, I forgot to get a picture of this breakfast casserole outside the Crock Pot. I'll try to remember to update this post with a better picture as soon as I make it again. This is a great 8 hour slowcooker breakfast recipe, which means you can make it before you go to bed and it will be ready when you wake up. Perfect for Christmas morning or Easter, etc. I made it as a breakfast for dinner meal and it worked great - I just put it in at 9am and it was ready at 5pm. It tastes like a potato quiche and is tasty and economical. I served it with some muffins and canned pears - easy peasy.

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

28 oz bag frozen O'Brien potatoes
1/2 lb cubed ham
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar, divided
12 eggs
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

Spray the inside of slowcooker with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine frozen potatoes, ham, and 2 cups cheese; pour into the slow cooker. Whisk together eggs, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over the potato mixture in the slowcooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. During last 5 minutes of cooking time sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded cheese over casserole. Serve once cheese is melted.