Saturday, February 25, 2017

Peanut Butter Chocolate Heaven

The weather has been crazy (cold) this weekend, so I felt we deserved a "decadent day". Tonight's dinner is ribs and potato wedges, but I wanted to end with a bang! I scrolled through Pinterest and it didn't take long to find the perfect recipe. This is a fairly simple recipe; a great opportunity to use the stand mixer (using both the paddle and whip) as well as the food processor for the Oreos and Peanut Butter Cups. I used mini Reeses cups with their new "crunchy" and also dark chocolate (half of each). The recipe calls for 16 cookies and 15 pb cups, but I ended up using 8 more cookies and 8 more pb cups for the topping (pulsing them together in the food processor). I also used Extra Creamy Cool Whip because it gives it a thicker, more stable texture. Of course I taste-tested....The boys will not be disappointed tonight. ;)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Basic Pizza Dough (Stand Mixer)

One of my "fears" has been making bread from scratch, which got magnified when moving to Colorado. I always used excuses, like "I need a Kitchenaid". Well, the hubby helped out with that part and now after some reading and advice from forums on the internet, I decided to start with pizza dough. It turned out really well and the hubby stated several times that it was "the best pizza dough he'd ever tasted". Yay! I couldn't have done it without the "Stand Mixer Bible" and helpful hints from the internet.

1. package active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
Optional-cornmeal (I opted out of this one)

1. In a bowl, stir together yeast, water and sugar. Let stand until yeast begins to form, 3-4 minutes.[I put my mixing bowl in a sinkful of hot water prior, per a google tip.] Stir in oil.
2. Place flour and salt in the mixer bowl. Attach the flat beater and mixer bowl to the mixer. Set to speed 2 and mix until salt is blended evenly into the flour. Quickly pour in yeast mixture and mix until a dough forms.
3. Remove the flat beater and attach the dough hook. Set to speed 2 and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and cleans the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Remove the mixer bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. [I turned the oven on 225 for about 5 minutes then turned if off just prior to getting started on this recipe then used the oven as the "warm draft-free place.]
4. Place pizza stone or tiles on oven rack and preheat oven to 450 F.
5. Uncover dough and punch down several times to work out air bubbles. Turn out onto a floured work surface and cut in half. As you work with the first piece of dough, keep the other covered.Roll one piece of dough into a 12-inch round. Transfer to peel or baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Open the oven door and place the front edge of the peel at the back edge of the stone. Tilt the peel slightly and pull it back toward you, transferring the dough to the stone. Bake for about 2 minutes, or until the dough has firmed up. To retrieve the dough, slide the peel under it, scooping it up. Repeat with the second piece of dough. [I used a 16" pizza pan, but next time I'll use the 12" suggestion because the hubby prefers a thin crust. The 16" turned out like a hand-tossed.]

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Stand Mixer)

I have been having so much fun with my new stand mixer (that the hubby bought me for Valentine's Day). Tonight, in an effort to keep the cookie jar full, I found this yummy recipe in my "Mixer Bible" cookbook:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
2. Place butter in the mixer bowl. Attach the flat beater and mixer bowl to the mixer. Set to speed 4 and beat until soft and creamy. Increase to speed 6 and beat in brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Reduce speed to stir and mix in flour mixture, in 3 additions. Mix in chocolate chips and oats until evenly incorporated.
3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls (15 ml), 2 inches (5 cm) apart, onto prepared baking sheets. Bake in middle of preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden and slightly firm to the touch, Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Orange Cranberry Bread (High Altitude)

I can never get enough of orange sweet breads, scones, etc.  I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the hubby also like orange breads--the only complaint was "not enough orange icing on top". haha Another great recipe from my "Baking at High Altitude Cookbook".

(Orange) Cranberry Nut Bread

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups pure orange juice
1 teaspoon orange peel or orange zest
3 cups cranberries [I used orange infused cranberries]
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

**For the icing, I just used a regular icing recipe and added orange extract**

1. Cream the butter, sugar, eggs.
2. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, orange juice and orange peel or zest to the butter mixture.
3. Mix thoroughly while adding the cranberries and walnuts. Mix the batter until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
4. Grease two 9-inch bread pans. 
5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
6. Bake 50-60 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Aunt Lil's Mother's Killer Chocolate Cake (High Altitude)

I was in the mood this week for a good chocolate cake. Since I haven't been spending much time in my "Baking at High Altitude" cookbook, I decided to turn to the Muffin Lady and so glad I did. This was a moist cake by itself, but became irresistible with the icing. So glad I have a hubby and friends to help me eat it, although I debated on whether or not to share ;)

3 cups water
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder

1. Bring the water to a full boil
2. Measure out 1 1/4 cups, discard the remaining water and add the 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate to the 1 1/4 cups of hot water. Mix the chocolate and water together until all the chocolate is melted and let the mixture cool.
3. Cream together the butter, sugar and flour.
4. Mix the chocolate/water into the butter mixture and blend thoroughly.
5. Then refrigerate the chocolate and butter mixture for 1 hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
7. Remove the chocolate/butter mixture from the refrigerator, and add the eggs, 1 egg at a time, until all the eggs are fully incorporated into the batter. Add the vanilla to the batter and mix.
8. Mix the baking powder into the batter with a rubber spatula, wooden spoon or fork. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.
9. Grease a 9x13-inch pan.
10. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
11. Bake the cake 50-60 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Let cake cool prior to pouring and spreading Aunt Lil's Aunt's Chocolate Icing onto the cake.

Powdered sugar can be sprinkled over cooled cake instead of using  the icing (but I personally recommend the icing). :)

Aunt Lil's Aunt's Chocolate Icing for the Killer Chocolate Cake

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 5 oz can evaporated milk (If doubling recipe or more, go to 10 oz, 15 oz and so on)
2 tsp vanilla

1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter. 
2. After the chocolate and butter are melted, add the sugar, evaporated milk and vanilla. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens, approximately 30 minutes.
3. Remove the icing from the heat and while still warm, pour and spread the icing all over the cooled cake. Allow the icing to cool prior to serving.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Howie Pruitt's Supreme Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Aunt Bees Mayberry Cookbook: Otherwise known as Monster Cookies. I left out the raisins, but otherwise was a great cookie. I think this one would be fun with the holidays when M&Ms offer different colors.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 12 oz package chocolate chips
1 12 oz package raisins
1 10 oz package plain M&M candies

In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy. Beat in the eggs. Gradually blend in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate and raisins. Drop the mixture by the tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and place the M&M candies on top of the cookies while the cookies are still hot. Serve with cold milk. [Makes about 3 dozen.]

Jolly Good Chocolate Chip Cookies

From the Aunt Bees Mayberry Cookbook: Good little cookie. Small recipe. Easy to make.

1/2 cup butter
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Half a beaten egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Rolled or jumbo oats

Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour, egg, and a few drops of vanilla. Beat well. Add the chocolate chips. Shape by hand into little balls, and roll in the oats. Place them on the prepared cookie sheet and press them down slightly. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from teh tray while still hot and place on a wire rack to cool. [Makes up to 40 cookies, depending on how small you make the cookies]

Harvey's Little Big Orange Cookies

Another fun little recipe from Aunt Bees Mayberry Cookbook. I love orange flavored cookies, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, scones etc... I admittedly ate more than my share; the boys were not as enthralled as I was. ;)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and the remaining ingredients. Drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. [Makes 2 dozen.]

Thai Chicken Curry

Last week, the two of us managed to catch a cold from somewhere, so I wanted a chicken soup that would  warm the belly and the soul. For some it's chicken noodle soup, but for me it's Thai Chicken curry with chicken thighs. I loosely used the following recipe, but mainly used chicken broth, coconut milk, yellow curry powder, fish sauce, yellow onion, cilantro, carrots, orange bell pepper, potatoes and rice. The hubby bought me a KitchenAid mixer and one of the attachments was a spiralizer. I used it for the carrots and was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was; I saved a lot of time that I would have spent chopping. I know this recipe was instrumental in our recovery. :)

Pizza with Swiss Chard and Bacon

So the hubby bought me a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer for Valentines Day and I immediately bought "The Mixer Bible". It's been my goal since we moved here to Colorado to conquer Bread and dough recipes that require yeast. A separate blog will be posted about the pizza dough, but for this piece I want to focus on the toppings. After the hubby's trip to the grocery store, I find that we have a refrigerator full of various greens, including chards. Usually I cook them up with lemon juice, onions and mushrooms, but today we asked the question--"Can you put Chards on pizza?" So I looked to google and found out that chards and bacon make great toppings together on pizza. Earlier today we had also purchased pepper bacon at the deli. In addition, I had some hamburger meat, and added yellow onions and cremini mushrooms as well as a red pepper alfredo sauce I already had on hand. I made a 16" pizza and sprinkled mozzarella on top. It turned out more like a pie or a hand-tossed crust because the recipe was actually for (2) 12" pizzas. We usually prefer thin crust, but the hubby said it was the "best pizza toppings and crust" he had ever had. Success!!

Bullet Brownies

Finally carved out time to get caught up on blogging some awesome recipes that I've tried in the past couple of weeks. First up is desserts-I've been doing a lot of baking from "Aunt Bees Mayberry Cookbook". There are some really fun recipes that use both old fashioned methods and combine interesting ingredients. 

These are probably the best brownies I've ever made. They are very dense (almost fudge-like) and possibly due to the altitude I had to bake them 35-40 minutes. Wish I would have had some of my homemade ice cream on hand.

1 cup margarine
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Grease a 9 inch square pan and dust with cocoa. In a saucepan, melt the margarine. Add the sugar and cocoa, and blend well. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. [These freeze well.] They're very rich so may server more than 9. 

Goober Says Haystacks (No Bake)

Finally carved out time to get caught up on blogging some awesome recipes that I've tried in the past couple of weeks. First up is desserts-I've been doing a lot of baking from "Aunt Bees Mayberry Cookbook". There are some really fun recipes that use both old fashioned methods and combine interesting ingredients. Take this one for example...only 3 ingredients and no bake. Super easy and delicious. :)

1 12oz package buttersotch chips 
1 12oz package semisweet chocolate chips
1 12oz package Chinese chow mein noodles

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butterscotch and chocolate chips. Add the chow mein noodles, coating well. Spoon onto waxed paper and chill until firm.

Makes 3-4 dozen