Saturday, July 31, 2010

Peach Muffins

The Mudhouse has peach granola muffins that I love. I mean, I would give up my first born for those muffins. Okay, not my first born, but if I had a beloved pet it would totally get the boot for those muffins. My lovely friend Gillian came over on Monday to have an Anne of Green Gables day. We watched AOGG, cross-stitched (crochet for Gill), drank Starbucks, and ate peach muffins that she had made. Since I had extra peaches, I wanted to try to find a peach muffin recipe that I can make so that my future children and pets are not in danger of being given the boot. Gillian doesn't use recipes, much like my mother, so I looked online. I found one at that seemed pretty simple and did not require ingredients I didn't already have on hand. They were pretty good. Not Mudhouse good, but definitely a decent home recipe. Here's their recipe:

1 (16 oz.) can cling peach slices (I did not use sinful canned peaches. I used approximately two cups of cut up fresh peaches.)
2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. quick oats
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. milk
1/4 c. cooking oil

Fresh peaches. Lovely.

Drain peaches (if you're a heathen using canned), cut in small pieces and set aside. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add oats and peaches, stir to coat peaches. Combine eggs, milk and oil. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fill greased muffin tins about 3/4 full.

I didn't listen to the 3/4 part. I'm a rebel.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Peach Crisp

I could write poetry about peach crisp. They would all be love sonnets. My mom makes a killer peach crisp. It makes me love her even more. Of course, my mom is not the type of person to use recipes, so a couple years ago when I begged her for her peach crisp recipe she was a little uncertain of what to tell me. So I did only what I could do in such a position, I threatened to share with the world the picture I have of her wearing a zebra tail. Oh, how quickly she discovered the recipe then. Okay, I made all that up. Though I do have a picture of her wearing a zebra tail when we moved me to Kansas and I found it packed in my stuff. My mom indulges my silliness, which also makes me love her more. Now, I should tell you, I ONLY make peach crisp in the summer with perfectly fresh peaches. I have never attempted it with canned peaches and doubtfully ever will. Canned peaches are simply a sin.

Peach Crisp, Mom Style

1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter

Peel and slice peaches to cover a 9x13 pan. Tip from my mom: cut the peaches over the dish so the juice drips into the pan. In a bowl, mix together the ingredients, making a coarse meal. Sprinkle the topping over the peaches. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. In theory you're supposed to spray the pan, but I always forget that part; however, I've never had a problem in my glass dish. The peach crisp is good when it comes out of the oven, but if you can hold out, wait until the next day. The flavors.....oh, heavens. I can't even talk about how good it is the next day. Now, you won't be able to wait for the next day and that's okay. Just make sure you save some so you can enjoy it when the flavors have had time to settle.

My mama. I love her.

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

For the majority of Sundays while I lived at home, my mom would make a roast. I've made a couple roasts on my own, but usually in the slow cooker. It's easy, little fuss, and you can go about your life. Roast is a wonderful food because it can be versatile depending on seasoning. Plus, it's delicious hot or cold in a sandwich the next day.

I have meat issues. I don't like to handle it too much, I don't like to associate the raw meat with my final product, and I have issues. So, being able to throw the meat in the slow cooker is perfect for me. Seriously. I really can't think about it or meat grosses me out.

I bought a more expensive roast because I wanted a higher quality cut with less fat. Plus, I didn't realize that I was being ripped off until I talked prices with my mom. But it was a really fantastic cut of meat and the taste combined with the low fat to meat ratio made it worth it. (Should I have said low meat to fat ratio? I don't know how to word that using a ratio scenario. Whatever, there was waaay more meat than fat. The end.)

I'm not going to provide a recipe because I simply want to make you aware of using a slow cooker for a roast. I put my roast in with a cup of water (the water should rise up to cover 3/4 of the roast) and I seasoned the heck out of it with a couple spices I had bought. You can use rubs, Mrs. Dash, salt and pepper, yada yada yada. Season with whatever flavor makes your mouth happy. Cook on high for approximately 4 hours. It may take a little longer depending on the size of your roast. Make sure you check it because you don't want to overcook your roast. Dry roast is not good. You shouldn't need gravy to moisten or flavor a good roast. If you're cooking a more straightforward roast, throw in some carrots and potatoes. And now you have successfully made a delicious dish with minimal effort. You're welcome.

P.S. I think I have used the word roast in this blog more than I've said it in my 29 years of existence. Roast.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Homemade Pasta

A while back I decided that I wanted to try my hand at homemade pasta, but it seemed intimidating. Then I found a super simple recipe on the Pioneer Woman's site from her friend, Pastor Ryan. Guess what? It's just eggs and flour! And Ryan used a rolling pin and pizza cutter, so I thought it would be much easier than I expected. The most difficult part came when I was cooking the noodles simply because I wasn't sure how they were to look or taste since it was a new recipe. Here's his recipe:

Rule of thumb: Two eggs per one cup of flour

Make a well in the center of your pile of flour and crack in your eggs.

My well runneth over. Eh.

Slowly mix together with your hands. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead (roll, punch, push, etc.) by hand until dough becomes smooth and pliable, adding flour to the board as necessary.

Let the dough rest for a little while before rolling it out. You can sort of figure on one egg per person to determine how much dough to make. Example: Two eggs and one cup of flour would make enough pasta dough for a dinner for two.

When you’re ready, roll it out on a floured surface as thinly as it’ll go. The noodles will plump up quite a bit when they boil in the water, so the thinner you can roll it, the better. Cut the noodles really thin. You can use a sharp knife (if you can keep it in a straight line), a pizza wheel, or a long pizza/bread cutter.

For Christmas, I was given a long pizza cutter, which worked perfectly.

To cook the noodles, just boil them in salted water (very important!) for probably two minutes. They cook lightning fast, so don’t let ‘em go too long.

I made a homemade sauce to go with my pasta. I used ground beef, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, basil. It was tasty.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mini Meatball Sliders

Can I help it if every time I visit the Pioneer Woman's site that she has some delicious looking recipe posted? Surely you can't hold that against me. She posted Mini Meatball Sandwiches this week. Well, I just so happen to love meatballs, especially in sandwich form. These were no exception. They're really easy to make and were ready in 30-45 minutes. And did I mention that they were DELICIOUS? Because they were. Do yourself a favor and make them. If you don't, you'll regret it and your stomach will curse you. Is that a risk you're willing to take?

Since Sesha was grossed out by the idea of looking at pictures of raw hamburger, I'm going to be cautious and only post one picture with raw meat.

1 pound Ground Chuck Or Ground Beef
1/2 cups Panko Or Other Bread Crumbs (I have no clue what Panko is and to save time, I bought the ready-to-use bread crumbs. Best use of $1.50 ever.)
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1/2teaspoons Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Milk
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2whole Medium Onion, Diced
1 jar (large) Marinara Sauce
12 whole Dinner Rolls (or Slider Rolls)
4 slices Provolone Cheese, Cut Into Four Wedges Each

It's a flag! What? You don't see it? Whatever.

Mix meat with bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and milk. Knead together with hands. Roll into heaping tablespoon-sized rolls.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for one minute. Add meatballs between the onions and brown for one minute. (You might have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your skillet.)

Pour in jar of marinara; shake pan gently to mix. Put on lid and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, cut each dinner roll in half. Place a wedge of Provolone on the top and bottom of each roll. Spoon a meatball with the sauce onto the bottom bun; top with the top bun.

Serve immediately!

Chocolate Souffle

Have I lost my mind? Am I on drugs? Am I overestimating my powers in the kitchen? Perhaps, but by golly I'm making a souffle! (Let me state for the record, I am not on drugs. And while I might be a little...unique, I am mentally sound for all intense purposes. Thank you.) In general I'm not an adventurous person, but for whatever reason I feel bolder in the kitchen. Souffle? Ha! I laugh in the face of souffles. I found the recipe on America's Test Kitchen website. And away we go!

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 tablespoon softened, remaining butter cut into 1/4-inch chunks)
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for coating the dishes
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarse
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (I didn't use this. I wasn't about to buy it for one tablespoon. Jerks.)
6 large egg yolks
8 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

Let's talk about this kitchen tool for a second. It separates egg yolks and whites. It props on a glass. It's useful and you need one. I inherited mine from my mom who had two which means it probably came from my grandma. Sure, you can use your hands which makes you seem more chef-like and I actually did that today since some of the whites were thick, but this tool is useful. Merry Christmas.

Coat eight 1-cup ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter, then coat inside of dish evenly with the 1 tablespoon sugar; refrigerate until ready to use.

I love Ghiradelli chocolate. It's always my first pick.

Melt chocolate and remaining butter in medium bowl set over pan of simmering water. Turn off heat, stir in salt, vanilla, and liqueur (if using); set aside.

Bring the 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons water to boil in small saucepan, then simmer until sugar dissolves. With mixer running, slowly add this sugar syrup to egg yolks; beat until mixture triples in volume, about 3 minutes.

This is when I realized that I didn't read my recipe correctly and added the syrup to the whites. Whoops. This is also when I wondered if I just ruined the fragile souffle recipe. I finished what was supposed to be the real steps to the egg white portion (see below) and set it aside.

I simply beat the eggs without adding anything. I have no idea what the syrup would have done to it. We'll just have to pretend.

Fold into chocolate mixture.

Clean beaters.

Beat egg whites until frothy; add cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks; add confectioners' sugar; continue beating to stiff peaks. (Mixture should just hold the weight of a raw egg in the shell when the egg is placed on top.)

Vigorously stir one-quarter of whipped whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold remaining whites into mixture until just incorporated.

Fill each ramekin almost to rim, wiping excess filling from rim with wet paper towel. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake until fully risen, about 16 to 18 minutes. (Souffle is done when fragrant and fully risen. Use two large spoons to pull open the top and peek inside. If not yet done, place back in oven.) Serve immediately.

Look! It worked!

Guess what is tricky about making a souffle? Knowing when it's done when I've never even seen a souffle in person much less tasted one. Tricky business.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

During my one day off in a span of eight days I decided to bake a cake. I know. I can't explain what's wrong with me either. Except that cooking is relaxing for me. It keeps my hands busy when I'm stressed and it allows my brain to let go of everything but the recipe. And so on Monday I made the Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Shortcake Cake. It's like a sickness. I can't stay away from her blog.

Since I had just worked four 12-hr shifts, I was a little sluggish in getting the baking started. This means you'll have to forgive some lighting issues with the pictures and it explains why I don't have a good picture of a slice of the finished cake. I took multiple, but between the light and my weary eyes, I couldn't tell that they were all blurry until I uploaded the pictures today. Eh. You win some, you lose some. And then you eat some cake. Let me tell you, this cake is killer, but not at first. I tried it after making it and wasn't thrilled. I took it to work the next day and received some pretty impressive feedback, so I tested it again. The flavors had soaked in and it was perfect. So if you're going to make this, consider giving it time for the flavors to settle. I think this applies to 80% of baked items. They always seem better the next day.

You want to know my favorite part of using the PW's recipes or any recipe that I find online? I don't have to retype their recipe. Copy and paste, baby! It saves time which I love and I don't have to worry about messing up the recipe by mistyping an amount or forgetting to type a step. All I have to do is add my pictures and my own comments (generally at the start and under the photos) and I'm finished. I love the internet. If I could figure out how to change the font for their recipe vs. my comments I would, but it seems that each time I try to use the bold or italics it doesn't work. I'm limited in my blogging skills. Embrace it. Now, let's take a look at this lovely cake, shall we? (Is it wrong that I get a little giddy when I put the recipes and pictures together on this blog? Because I do. It makes me excited. What can I say? I'm easily entertained.)


1 1/2 cup Flour
3 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
9 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 1/2 cup Sugar
3 whole Large Eggs
1/2 cups Sour Cream, Room Temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 pound Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
2 sticks Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 pound Powdered Sugar, Sifted
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 pound Strawberries

Have you seen anything more beautiful? I love fresh, summer strawberries.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch. Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.

The PW suggested sifting the flour onto wax paper to make it easier to pour. Sure, it was easy and saved me a dish, but more importantly, look at the cool picture it provided!!

Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. (I used a 9-inch springform pan.)

Since we're making a layer cake, having an even start helps. I started with my spatula and thought it was okay...

Then my OCD paranoia kicked in and I used the proper tool for a more level batter.

And let's talk about the springform (spring form?) pan for a minute. This pan allows you to remove the sides easily. It unhinges and slips right off. Genius.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly. Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

See how the pan comes apart?

Now comes the part where you hold your breath, chant "oh please, oh please, oh please", and cringe as you flip the cake onto the cooling rack. Then when it works you cry tears of joy.

Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar.

Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoons sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.

I kept it chunkier because I like texture, not mush.

Make icing: combine cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.

I was tired of hand-sifting after one round, but since I had just washed my larger sifter I was out of luck. Water + powder sugar = not a good idea

Slice cake in half through the middle.

I can't cut a straight line to save my life. Seriously. Cake or paper. I can't draw a straight line either. Shouldn't I have learned this in kindergarten? I've been failed by the system.

Spread strawberries evenly over each half (cut side up), pouring on all the juices. Place cake halves into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.

Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer.

Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining 1/3 cup around the sides.

Leave plain OR garnish with strawberry halves.

IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!

For you, my dear friends, I'm going to attempt to italicize my comments that are mixed in with the PW's recipe. Let's cross our fingers and eyes that it'll work.

Heavens to Betsy, it worked!!!! (I have never understood the expression "Heavens to Betsy", but it's a phrase that I've heard since childhood and every so often it crosses my tongue. It's like a gut reaction.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

St. Louis Bread Co. Oven French Toast

God bless my mom and the person that gave her this recipe. I remember thinking this was the best french toast ever when she first made it, but it's not something I've had for years. Since college? high school? Anyway, the disappointing cereal french toast recipe did have one positive outcome: it reminded me of this redeeming, glorious recipe. Oh, man. You're going to love and hate me for this.

6-8 thick slices of French bread
6 tablespoons of butter (I used 2; it's to grease the pan and butter the bread.)
1 teaspoon vanilla (One day I'll have to tell you what I learned about vanilla.)
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons syrup
Dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 13 x 9 pan. Butter both sides of bread and place in baking pan.

Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bread then drizzle the syrup over the bread.

This should be illegal.

This is illegal in 14 states. Thankfully, Missouri is not one.

In a bowl, mix the eggs you've already beaten, vanilla, half and half, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour evenly over bread slices. Let baking pan rest for 15 to 30 minutes before putting in the oven.

Do you hear the choir singing?

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until brown. What I love about this is there is some texture to the top, but it's so creamy inside. Almost like a custard. Mmmmm. Sort of like a french toast creme brulee. I love creme brulee. I would marry creme brulee.

I can't apologize for perfection.

Ummmm, can we pretend like the lighting in some of the pictures isn't sub-par? Soon I'll be getting a lesson from Sesha about lighting and Aperture (a neat program for Macs), so they'll be even better. And I really wanted to get my blog updated, so I didn't feel like spending a couple hours perfecting lighting issues. Suck it up.