Friday, June 25, 2010

Cowboy Calzones minus the Cowboy

The first time I saw the Cowboy Calzone recipe I thought about a pizza version. Today I gave it a go. It's simple and pretty tasty. So here's my Cowboy Calzone minus the Cowboy.

You're going to start with the PW's pizza crust recipe. My photos for today are less step-by-step because it's hard to use a hand mixer, pour, and take photos with just two hands. Is that enough of an excuse to buy a stand mixer? I didn't think so, but it was worth a shot.

Pizza Crust
1 teaspoon or 1/2 packet active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or be a rebel like'll see)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Sauce of your liking
(Or whatever the heck you'd like inside)

Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Don't stir it yet.

(Note: I have a glass measuring cup, so I just added the yeast there. It saved washing another dish. You're welcome.) Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

Sooo...I didn't have kosher salt. I used the hand grinder we had, but then my hand got tired. So I used the pink salt that I think is sea salt, but I really have no clue because it's in a glass jar without a label. To be safe, I topped off the teaspoon with regular salt. I wanted to play it safe. Feel free to use just one kind of salt. I have issues, let's just accept it and move on.

With an electric mixer (or hand-mixer if you're named Amy) on low speed, drizzle in the olive oil until just incorporated.

This is as close to an action shot as you'll get with a simultaneous mixing/pouring step while using a hand mixer.

Return to your yeast/water mixture. You can stir it gently now. Add it into the flour/oil mixture; mix until the dough forms a ball. (I did the majority of this by hand since the dough gets caught up in the mixer pretty easily.) Drizzle a little olive oil into a clean bowl. Toss the ball of dough in the bowl and turn over to coat in oil. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and set in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

(After 75 minutes)

Okay, now we're switching to the Cowboy Calzone recipe...sort of. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Divide the pizza dough into 8 equal-size balls.

With a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll each ball into a 6-inch circle. (Huh. I didn't read the 6-inch part until just now. Oh well.) Place the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni on the middle of each circle.

Fold half the circle over the other half, gently press to slightly spread and flatten the filling inside. Press a fork along the edge to seal closed, then transfer the calzone to a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Brush the calzones with olive oil.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Rootbeer + calzone = delicious

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oceano Bistro

I made a quick trip to home and the St. Louis area on Sunday. It was a really brief trip, but I was able to go to Oceano Bistro for dinner. Holy cow. Or should I say, holy fish? DELICIOUS. Deeeeeelicious. I would swoon over this food. Okay, I did swoon over the food and I even thanked the waitress for her excellent suggestion. And then I hugged her....okay, I didn't hug her.

I ordered the Northern California Rock Snapper (pan roasted with potato gnocchi, artichoke fricassee, pancetta, Reggiano soubise and parsley oil). If you feel the need to lick your screen, I'll understand. I might judge you a little, but I'll understand.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Coffee Cake

When I think of coffee cake I think of my mom. She made it frequently for breakfast on Sunday morning. I'd sit at our kitchen table eating my coffee cake and drinking milk while my dad read the Sunday paper and my mom prepped Sunday lunch (usually roast beef with carrots and potatoes). Yesterday, the Pioneer Woman posted what she described as the best coffee cake ever. What better way to start my week off work than with a little coffee cake?

1 1/2 stick Butter, Softened
2 cups Scant Sugar
3 cups Flour, Sifted
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1 1/4 cup Whole Milk (I used 2%)
3 whole Egg Whites, Beaten Until Stiff

1 1/2 stick Butter, Softened
3/4 cups Flour
1 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
1 1/2 cup Pecans, Chopped (I didn't use pecans. My mom never did and I'm not really a fan of nuts.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat egg whites and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined. Don’t overbeat. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 or 8 x 11-inch baking pan (use the latter if you want thicker slices of cake.)
In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top.

So I may have gotten a little distracted and mixed the crumbly topping way too much. Drats. In this case, do as I say, not as I do.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until no longer jiggly.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies

I was at Barnes & Noble last week and I saw America Test Kitchen's recent magazine of top recipes. I flipped through it and made a mental list of recipes I'd like to try, but when I came to the brownie recipe I was intrigued. Now, you may remember from a recipe posting that I'm not really a brownie fan. But after that recipe, I read a post from the Pioneer Woman that discussed the difference in baking chocolate. Wondering if that was part of my disappointment, I decided to try this recipe. Guess what? It's not. I really don't prefer brownies. Period. These had a more distinct chocolate flavor, but I wasn't a fan of the texture. They were moist, but stuck to your mouth. I've decided that the next time I have to make brownies, I'm going with a box. Yup. A box. And I won't even feel bad about it.

5 ounces semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Fold two 12-inch pieces of foil lengthwise so that they measure 7 inches wide. Fit one sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; overhang will help in removal of baked brownies. Fit second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

(I was a rebel and didn't fold the foil. It worked just fine. Save yourself a step.)

2. In medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture; then stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread into corners, and level surface with rubber spatula.

Bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan using foil handles. Cut into 1-inch squares and serve. (Do not cut brownies until ready to serve; brownies can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

Mediterranean Chicken

If this isn't my favorite main dish, it's in the top 5. I can't even handle it. It's such a light, fresh dish. I love using lemon to flavor, so this is perfect for me. I found it in one of Kesia's cookbooks about four years ago. I don't make it nearly enough and every time I do cook it, I wonder why in the world I don't make it more often. I can never decide what I like best about it. The chicken? The onion? The pepper? The potatoes? Each bite changes my mind. Oh gracious, I love this dish. The lemon juice and olive oil help to keep the chicken moist. Just trust me and make this dish. It'll change your life. Or at least make your mouth really, really happy. Last week I kicked off a stretch of working 8 days, so I made this dish to be my lunch for the upcoming days. Best idea ever.

2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
2-3 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 medium baking potatoes
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1" strips
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
4 chicken breast

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl. Using a garlic press, add to the bowl. Add oregano, salt, pepper; stir and set aside. Cut potatoes and place in a 9x13 pan followed by the pepper and onion. Pour half of the lemon juice mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat.

Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, brush both sides with the remaining lemon juice mixture. (Just for kicks, I cut the lemon I used for zest into wedges and place around the chicken.)

(This picture is before I put the lemon wedges in. Use your imagination.)

Bake 1 hour or until the chicken is no longer pink.

Lunch! Genius.

BBQ Pulled Pork

I love pulled pork...a lot. Like, it's kinda ridiculous how much I love it. Since I'm trying to venture into more main dishes with meat, I decided to make BBQ Pulled Pork at home in my slow cooker. I didn't have a recipe, so I made it up. My biggest issue was BBQ sauce. I know what I like when it comes to BBQ sauce; the problem is that I rarely find one I like. I'd actually like to find a new one, so if you have a suggestion let me know. I should mention the fact that I don't like the sweet BBQ sauces.

Pork Loin
salt & pepper
3/4 cup water
1/4 cider vinegar
BBQ sauce

Put the whole pork loin (fat and all) into the crock pot, salt and pepper just a bit (how's that for exact measurements?). I used about 3/4 cup of water topped off with cider vinegar to keep the pork moist. You could just use 1 cup of water in the crock pot, but my logic was that vinegar is a tenderizer so I went for it. After 8 hours of cooking on low, take the pork out of the slow cooker. Using two forks, shred the pork and remove the fat.

Ignore the knife. I don't even know why it's in the picture. But look at the steam! Impressive, right?

Return the shredded pork (no fat this time) to the slow cooker and mix in your BBQ sauce.

Let cook for another hour to soak up the flavor. I think that the next time I make this, I'm going to brown both sides of the pork in a skillet first to give the edges a bit more texture. And hopefully I'll have found a BBQ sauce that I love to make it even better.

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wanna guess who this recipe comes from? I bet you'll just need one guess. Yup. The Pioneer Woman. I'll confess that I visit her site daily. She makes me laugh, provides great recipes and photographs, and I want her life. Well, sort of. I don't think I could actually live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. No Target for miles? Oh geez. That would be torture for me.

I enjoy malt flavoring. Chocolate malts? YUM. So I didn't hesitate for a second when she posted this recipe. Let me tell you right now, these cookie are supposed to be flat. FLAT. That kind of reminded me of my Grandma G's cookies, so it was a nice memory tucked into the recipe. Anyway, prepare yourself for a flat cookie. I've never made a cookie that was supposed to be flat; I've only had one recipe that ended up flat due to a forgotten ingredient. It was a mental hurdle I had to conquer. Anyway, these were really good and delightful and deceitful. Flat does not equal fewer calories, people. Keep that in mind when your hand wants to wander back to them because it will. Mmmmm. They were so good.

(Did you notice that I forgot the chocolate chips for the malted milk CHOCOLATE CHIP cookies? Geez. They were simply sitting off to the side...forelorn...with a single tear sliding down the bag. Sad.)

1 cup (2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter Softened
¾ cups Golden Brown Sugar
¾ cups Sugar
2 whole Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 cups All-purpose Flour
1-¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
1-¼ teaspoon Salt
½ cups (rounded) Malted Milk Powder
1 bag (12 Ounce) Milk Chocolate Chips

Look at them all lined up, ready to work. Like a little army of ingredients. I must say that laying out all my ingredients prior to mixing would be one of my top tips for you. It guarantees that you have everything you need prior to starting. I hate getting caught without an ingredient once I've started mixing.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter, then add both sugars and cream until fluffy. Add eggs and beat slightly, then add vanilla and beat until combined. Add malted milk powder and beat until combined. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture, beating gently until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir in gently.

Drop by teaspoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Bake less if you want chewy cookies; more if you want crispy cookies.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

I'm sorry. I should just apologize now. This recipe is pure deliciousness. It will be hard to contain yourself. So only plan on making them when you have somewhere to take them. But, man oh man, are they good!!!! Besides, it's the Pioneer Woman's fault. It occurred to me yesterday that I'm trying an awful lot of her recipes. I promise that this is not a Julie/Julia thing between Ree and myself....unless I can end up with a book and movie deal. Hey, I have student loans to think about.

I had never made homemade cinnamon rolls before this recipe. I was nervous, but all turned out well. I have a couple areas of adjustment for next time. For example, my dough will sit farther back on the counter. It was thisclose to spilling cinnamon/sugar/butter onto my floor. You should also know that this is a messy endeavor. Or at least it was for me. Maybe next time will be better. BUT, the important thing to know as you're seeing this mess on your counter is that they will be sooooo worth it. Yum. Okay, my final note before her recipe is that I didn't make the maple icing. I had worked a 12 hour shift that day and had to return for another 12 the next day, so I was simply too tired for the couple extra steps. Alright, let the baking (and deliciousness) begin!

1 quart Whole Milk (I used 2%)
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter
2 cups Sugar
Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon (I can't even guess at this. I think it depends on how much you like cinnamon.)

1 bag Powdered Sugar (I didn't use a full bag. Maybe 3/4?)
1/2 cups Milk
1/4 cups Melted Butter

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. “Scald” the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour. After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down). **Because I didn't read and realize how time consuming this was going to be, I ended up stopping here.

When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

See the mess? Totally worth it.

Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.

Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Icing: Mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

I love guacamole thanks to the Bowmans. I had no idea what I was missing out on until they made it when I lived with them. Guacamole and avocados are at the top of my favorite foods list. Yum. For our BBQ on Memorial Day, I quickly threw together gucamole. The Pioneer Woman has a recipe in her cookbook for pico de gallo which she then adds to her avocado. Now, gucamole is really about personal taste. Some people like smooth, some like chunky, some add tomatoes, some don't. I happen to prefer a chunkier, natural texture with tomatoes, onion, and cilantro added in. So the PW's recipe was right up my alley. Here's the key thing I learned from her (because really it's so super easy you don't need a recipe): use equal parts of onion, tomato, and cilantro for your pico de gallo. I'd have to agree. The flavor was perfect. After everything was mixed, I didn't have to add one thing to adapt the flavor. Here we go. (I'm excited now and I'm not even making it.)

Yellow or red onion
Roma tomatoes
Cilantro (fresh, please)

I'm not putting amounts because it'll all depend on how much you're making. I think I used one onion, two tomatoes that weren't actually roma, a whole package of cilantro, half a lime, and unknown amount of salt, and three avocados.

Dice up the onions pretty finely. Not everyone loves onions (I'm one of those people- unless they're cooked.), so finely chopping makes them more palatable. Dice up the tomatoes. Then, (you guessed it) dice up the cilantro finely. Squeeze in the juice from half a lime, sprinkle with salt, and stir together. Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Put the avocado in a separate bowl, sprinkle with salt, and mash to the consistency you desire. Add as much of the pice de gallo as your heart desires and stir together. She suggests tasting your pico de gallo and guacamole with the chips to see how salty they are together before adding any other seasonings. I think that is genius. You should know that neither of these things last past 24 hours. Her other helpful hint was that to avoid browning of the guacamole, gently press plastic wrap against the surface of the guacamole until serving.

Almost Salted Caramel Brownies

I am not a brownie person. It is simply not my dessert of choice. However, I was intrigued by this recipe on the Pioneer Woman's blog. When Stalena said that she loves brownies I thought it was the perfect excuse to try the recipe. I titled this the Almost Salted Caramel Brownie because I didn't end up attempting the caramel part. Frankly, I was tired of being in the kitchen, I didn't have all the ingredients, and since I'm not passionate about brownies I wasn't as driven. However, she (the PW) even mentions using purchased caramel, so I'm not a complete heathen. So, let's bake, shall we?

6 ounces, weight Unsweetened Chocolate, Chopped
¾ cups Unsalted Butter, Cut Into Pieces
2 cups Sugar
3 whole Eggs
1 cup All-purpose Flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter or baking spray. Cut your chocolate into pieces. (The PW has a link on her page about a comparison to see if there's a difference in baking chocolates. The Baker's Chocolate didn't fair well. I hadn't read this before my last two chocolate recipes- the brownies and previous cupcakes. I think that may be part of my ambivalence towards them. I liked the baked fudge with cocoa powder better.)

In the top of a double boiler over medium heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring until melted.

Of course, if you don't have a double boiler, you can use a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. The chocolate and butter are actually in a glass bowl here, not just sitting on the counter.

Don't walk away. It doesn't take long for the butter and chocolate to melt. Soon you'll have this...

Add sugar and stir gently until combined. Remove from heat.
In a separate bowl, gently whisk the eggs. Add a small splash of eggs to chocolate mixture, stirring immediately (but still gently). Drizzle in the rest of the eggs, stirring constantly.
Add flour and stir until combined. Pour batter into greased baking pan and spread to even out the surface.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then remove from oven to cool completely in the pan.

We had caramel on hand, so I simply drizzled that on top of the brownie. It did compliment it nicely. I really think a different chocolate would have made a difference, so I'm going to skip Baker's chocolate in the future and see how the flavors compare. But the caramel really did help add some punch to the flavor, so feel free to use your Baker's chocolate. Just know that you may want to add a little something for additional flavor.