Monday, September 27, 2010

Bear Paws

My first official use of my new mixer was the Bear Paws recipe. It comes from foodandwhine on Tasty Kitchen. (And yes, I meant to type whine not wine. It's her username.)

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups rolled oats
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1/2 cup chocolate chips

These are basically a healthier oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. And they're delicious. I also used more chocolate chips than the recipe called for...surprising after my last post about chocolate chips, right?

Cream butter and sugar together, then mix in applesauce. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and stir into butter mixture. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Combine flour, oats and flax and add to mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Pat them down and make 3 indents on one side of the cookie with a butter knife to form the claws of the paw. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

My skill level at making them actually look like bear paws: poor. Maybe I should have messed with the dough more to solidify it because when I used the knife it only seemed to push the dough apart. So mine didn't look like paws, but they were still yummy.

Let's be honest: oatmeal and the other ingredients are not visually appealing before being cooked. So let's take a peek at the brown sugar and butter in my new mixer:

We'll let that and the finished product picture guide us for this recipe. It'll make the recipe more appealing. I promise.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer (aka !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I've never been so delighted in all my life!!!! Is that true? I don't know, but I'm really happy and excited! I took the plunge (encouraged by the opportunity to save $90) and bought a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Eek!!!!! I'm giddy. Even now, days later I'm still full of excitement. I'm such a dork. And I don't care who knows it!!!! Whew, the joy of the mixer is making my use of exclamation points out of control. I could dance around my house right now from my joy. It almost feels as good as passing nursing boards. Well, the excitement feels close to the same. There is no comparison to the relief and disbelief that you're officially a nurse and never have to face the NCLEX again. Okay, now that I'm thinking about it, they're not really the same at all.

Let's get back to the mixer:

Hello! I love you already! We're going to make delicious things over the next 35 years. Prepare yourself.

First peek!

It's official. I'm too excited.

This next photo is not about the mixer. Look at the bowl. Do you see my legs? In the black pants?

Okay, let's just talk for a minute about the fact that these are supposed to be cropped yoga pants according to the description in the catalog. As in, some skin should be exposed. On the model they hit a good 4 inches higher. On me, they graze my ankles. The moral of the story: Oy vey.

Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like to bake. I like to compare. I like to challenge it when someone calls a recipe "the best". What does this say about me? Am I contrary or simply a bit mischievous? Maybe it just means that I am trying to better my recipe box or develop my palate. Hmmm. I'm feeling a little ornery this morning, so I think I'd side with mischievous. But I think when I'm feeling less like a punk, it means that I'm simply looking for great recipes.

Okay, I just took a chill pill, so I'm feeling less like a troublemaker. I think I like challenging the "best" recipes because it gives me room to learn. It allows me to see if there are adaptations I'd like to make to my own cooking. Oh, and by chill pill I just mean that I ran 80 laps around my house. And by 80 laps I mean that I sent an email to a friend which helped to clear my mind. Friends are the best kinds of chill pills.

Am I on crack today? I've already cycled through feeling mischievous, being calm, and then sappy. My allergies are throwing me for a loop. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have taken no medication today. I did take an allergy pill yesterday afternoon. The end.)

Okay, before I completely lose you all, let's get to the recipe... Why do words you've used countless times sometimes start to look so wrong? Today's example: let's. Don't you worry your little heart, I couldn't bear to use the wrong form, so I confirmed that I was using the correct let's (vs. lets). I know, I know. I'm messed up in the head. Good thing I can bake. It's my saving grace.

Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies. Because really, why would I not try this recipe? I will tell you that the actual recipe called for milk, white, and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Guess what? I didn't listen. I don't like white chocolate and I'm not really a fan of semi-sweet. It's milk chocolate chips all the way for me. However, if you like those other chips feel free to mix them up and let me know what you think. I still won't use them, but I like hearing your thoughts.

2 sticks of Salted Butter at room temperature
1 cup white granulated sugar
2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
2 whole large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 packages (1 oz packets, not sugar-free) hot chocolate mix
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup of each type of chips

A couple notes: I usually stick with unsalted butter which means I only had one stick of salted butter on hand. I think using one of each worked just fine. And 3 cups of chips in a recipe? Are you kidding me? Maybe I'm a freak, but I don't like that many chips in my cookies. I mean, it was only at the persistent begging and pleading of my coworkers that I started to use a full bag of chips vs. 3/4 of a bag. I didn't measure out my chips, but I can guarantee you that I wasn't anywhere close to 3 cups. I'm not trying to induce sugar comas in the people that eat my cooking. Now, let's take a walk down therapy lane to investigate why I did not used to use a full bag of chips. My mom didn't. That means I grew up eating a cookie that balanced out enjoying the dough with the sweetness of the chocolate. Sometimes I actually enjoy the dough part more than the chocolate. Don't tell Ghiradelli.

Oh, and before I forget (which is likely to happen since I'm awfully scattered today...see what happens when I have gaps in blogging?), this recipe comes from elimaxandlela on Tasty Kitchen.

Now for the instructions (please don't give up on me, the cookies will be tasty):
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, hot chocolate mix, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients in 3 to 4 parts, making sure all is incorporated.

See the texture? It was different than other cookies...fluffy yet dense. Is that even possible?

Fold in chips.

With my rebellious milk chips

Chill the dough for an hour or so. (This helps it to set up and makes it easier to make into balls.) Scoop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I just used Pam on mine). Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bacon Chocolate. It's True.

What is one to do when they see Bacon Chocolate while in the checkout line at Whole Foods? Especially after hearing recent rumblings about bacon chocolate. The only possible, reasonable solution is to buy it. Well, to buy it and take it home and force one's roommates to try it too. That's what bonding experiences are all about: forcing people to do what they don't want to do. (Camping excluded, girls. I can see the wheels turning.) Let's edit that sentence: Forcing people to do what they don't want to do within reason. Ex: eating bacon chocolate

The results:
Sesha- not a fan
Stalena- not a fan
Amy- not the best thing I've eaten, but not the worst.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

German Ginger Ale

Do you see this ginger ale? Burn it into your memory, let it linger in your heart. Now, promise yourself that you'll never ever drink it. Or at least, promise that you'll never take a big hearty swig of it.

See that innocent pink cap on the left? That pink does not mean sweet and innocent, it means the burning heat of hell. Okay, it means hot. The pink capped ginger ale had a spicy heat to it. This heat will clear out your sinuses in 0.2 seconds. It is not an enjoyable, refreshing ginger ale. It is simply mean. The gold cap means mild. By mild they mean, you'll breathe smoke instead of fire.

So here are the lessons for the day:
The Germans, creators of this ginger ale, are crazy. Or else they're cackling in Germany at this huge prank they're playing on the Americans.

Try this with friends if you ever find it. It will be a bonding experience.

My uncle may or may not dislike me. He suggested I try these.

I'm still smoldering in my mouth....12 hours after ingestion.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ode to Peaches

It's almost the end of peach season. If you haven't made peach crisp yet, you really should. Of course, you'll be overjoyed when you taste it and then you'll kick yourself for not making it sooner. The moral of the story: don't wear shoes when tasting it. It'll make the kicks less painful. I know, I'm a nurse. (Okay, maybe that logic doesn't fit, but doesn't it sound like it gives my reasoning some weight? After all, I'm a healthcare professional.) I suppose you can make it with canned peaches...yuck, I actually shuddered when writing that. No, forget that I wrote that. Forget it right now. Promise yourself that you'll never stoop to that level. I refuse to use canned peaches (can you tell I'm anti-canned peaches?), so yesterday I made my last peach crisp of the summer.

Peaches, beautiful peaches

Then I sang and danced as I said goodbye. And then I laughed like a maniac and then I cowered in fear because storms were coming. And then I grabbed my blankie and sucked my thumb. Okay, I didn't do those things because I was actually in my car when the sirens went off and the worst of the storm was occurring. Thankfully Stalena was with me, so I only mildly (or moderately) panicked. We made it home without being escorted by a tornado, so all is well. Today is storm-free (so far) and the joy of peach crisp has overshadowed the storms of last night. Three cheers for peach crisp!

Cinnamon Bread

This cinnamon bread recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman. It will literally take 3/4 of a day to make. Between the mixing, the resting and rising, the baking, the cooling, and the tasting your day will be consumed. But oh buddy will it be worth it. And your home will smell delicious.

1 cup Milk
6 Tablespoons Butter
2 1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
2 whole Eggs
1/3 cups Sugar
3 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cups Sugar, For inside roll
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon, For inside roll
Egg And Milk, Mixed Together, For Brushing
Softened Butter, For Smearing And Greasing

Melt 6 Tbsp butter with 1 cup milk. Heat until very warm, but don’t boil. Allow to cool until still warm to the touch, but not hot. Sprinkle yeast over the top, stir gently, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
(I may or may not have possibly forgot to use only 6 Tablespoons. Don't worry, it didn't hurt the bread one bit.)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix sugar and eggs. (I used my hand mixer.) Pour in milk/butter/yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add half the flour plus the salt and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the other half and beat until combined.

Switch to the dough hook attachment and beat/knead dough on medium speed for ten minutes. (Guess what I remembered??!! I have a dough hook for my hand mixer. I celebrated this recollection. A lot.) If dough is overly sticky, add 1/4 cup flour and beat again for 5 minutes.

Heat a metal or glass mixing bowl so it’s warm. Drizzle in a little canola oil, then toss the dough in the oil to coat.

Cover bowl in plastic wrap and set it in a warm, hospitable place for at least 2 hours.

Turn dough out onto the work surface. Roll into a neat rectangle no wider than the loaf pan you’re going to use, and about 18 to 24 inches long. Smear with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, then sprinkle evenly over the butter-smeared dough.

Starting at the far end, roll dough toward you, keeping it tight and contained. Pinch seam to seal.

Smear loaf pan with softened butter. Place dough, seam down, in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix a little egg with milk, and smear over the top. Bake for 40 minutes on a middle/lower rack in the oven.

Remove from the pan and allow bread to cool. Slice and serve, or make cinnamon toast or French toast with it.