Archive | June, 2012

Happy Birtday D’Andre

17 Jun

10 years ago I became a mother to the most outgoing, intelligent, athletic and funny little boy. Mom and dad love you buddy.

He requested Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. So of course I had to oblige. I originally wanted to make the icing red but duh when you add red food coloring to whitish frosting it turns pink and I didn’t think that my now 10-year-old (man where does the time go) boy would appreciate a pink cake. We will save the pink for his sisters cake. So with a little Lot of mixing I endend up with vanilla frosting that looked like chocolate. But I do have to say that it did taste amazing. This will be my regular chocolate cake recipe for sure.

One-Bowl Dark Chocolate Cake

Yield: 2 8″ cakes

Serves: 8+

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup (60 g/2 oz) dark cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2.5 liquid oz (75mL)vegetable oil

5 liquid oz (140mL)buttermilk

4.5 liquid oz (130 mL) espresso or strong, hot  brewed coffee

2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C. Prepare 2 8-inch round cake pans with  butter, parchment paper rounds, and cocoa powder. Tap out excess.

2. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Add  all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle  attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the  plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer) and pour into prepared pans. If possible, use digital kitchen scale and weigh pans for even layers. Batter  will be liquidy.

3. Bake for 15 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick  or skewer comes clean–approximately 25-30 minutes. Try not to over bake.

4. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until  completely cool.

Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3.5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

Method

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.

2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low-speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.

3. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency).

Cake Source: Sweetapolita

Frosting source: Sweetapolita

I put mini chocolate chips on the side of the cake but you can add anything or decorate any way you want. Here is one way I want to make it in the near future.

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Every night should be pizza night!

15 Jun

I love pizza, and before we started make it at home I’m sure that we had spent a small fortune on pizza delivery. When we first got to Oklahoma it was hard to get by on one income. We were used to my paycheck. I was offered  a job back in November but once we calculated the pros and cons it just wasn’t worth it financially. My whole pay check would go straight to daycare for our three kids. So I made staying at home my job. One of my many responsibilities is to manage the finances. We used to eat out at least three times a week and you know what? I do not miss it at all. Once I found out how much money we were spending going out I could’ve hit myself. Plus I learned that there was more than just the benefit of saving money, the food tastes so much better when you make it at home. Yes it might take a little bit more time and effort but it’s totally worth it when I know that I made a delicious home cooked meal for my family and have a little extra cash in our pockets. One of the many things that I probably wont order out for again is Pizza.

The key to a good pizza is a pizza stone. A few months ago I found a pizza stone at Ross for $40. It’s one of my favorite things in my kitchen (one of my other favorites is my KitchenAid mixer that I got for Christmas from my husband, no more kneading pizza dough by hand). Before we got the stone I was baking our pizza on a round metal pizza pan with cornmeal as a pizza peel. The pizza was good but OH MY GOODNESS once I made Pizza on the stone we were hooked. We have pizza night at least once a week. I ask my husband and the kids if they are tired of pizza yet but they insist that I should make it more often.

I did try a couple of pizza dough and sauce recipes before I found the perfect ones.

 

Pizza Dough

Yield: enough dough for 2 pizzas

Ingredients:

½ cup warm water

2¼ tsp. instant yeast

4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting

1½ tsp. salt

1¼ cup water, at room temperature

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  With the mixer on low-speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil.  Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.  Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low-speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.

Press down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.  (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.)  Cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal*.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.  Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.  Top as desired.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

* I place a piece of parchment paper on my counter and shape the pizza on there. No need for cornmeal, just slide the parchment onto a pizza peel and transfer the whole thing to your warm pizza stone.

** If you don’t plan to use the dough right away, divide dough into 2 equal portions after it has risen. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and place each wrapped dough in a freezer safe bag. The day that you need to use the dough, remove it from the freezer and place it on the counter for a couple of hours or place in the refrigerator the morning of the day you plan to use it. It tastes just as good as the fresh dough.

Source: Baking Illustrated

Pizza Sauce:

1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. oregano

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.

I use a couple of big spoonfuls per pizza. There is plenty of sauce leftover, I put extra sauce in Ball freezer cups and place them in the freezer for future pizzas. We don’t like a very saucy pizza so we end up having enough sauce for at least 5 freezer cups.

 

 

Cheap and good

13 Jun

Just a quick post. I whipped up a batch of granola today for the kids…oh yeah and me. This is a really easy recipe. The kids love it and it can be altered pretty easily. This picture is of a batch I made in February. I didn’t have any chocolate chips on hand so I added plain M&M’s. I don’t think the kids will mind do you?

Banana Peanut Butter Granola (adapted from Annie-Eats)

3 1/2 c. rolled oats, not quick oats

2 1/2 c. puffed rice cereal, I used rice krispies

2 TBS honey

1/3 c applesauce *

1/3 c mashed bananas

1/3-1/2 c. creamy peanut butter, warmed slightly

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon **

Add-ins: any combo works well

1-1 1/2 c. dried banana chips

1/2 c honey rosted peanuts

3-4oz. bitter sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or chocolate chips (any flavor) or M&M’s)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. In a large bowl combine oats and rice cereal. In a small bowl or 4 cup measuring cup, combine honey, applesauce, bananas, warmed peanut butter, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir mixture til smooth. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Spread mix evenly onto baking sheets. Bake for 35-45 mins turning granola with a large spatula. Also rotate baking sheets and move the top sheet to bottom rack and visa versa, every 15 minutes or so. If edges of granola are becoming brown remove them and place baking sheet back into oven. Be careful not to burn. I’ve burnt almost a whole batch because I had forgotten to set the timer. Not good. Makes the house stink. Place baking sheet onto cooling rack. Once granola is cooled add in the goodies.

I separate granola into snack sized ziplock bags so that they are ready for snacking or yogurt. Enjoy.

* a single serving size of applesauce snack pack is about 1/3 cup.

** omit cinnamon if you use cinnamon flavored applesauce.

 

Camp Loopy Ewe and Pretzel Dogs

5 Jun

I joined Camp Loopy Ewe this year and I am so glad that I did. For those who don’t know what it is it’s a free online knit-along hosted by Sheri of the online Loopy Ewe yarn shop. This has actually motivated me to start and finish a knitting project. Haha the first of 2012.

Aestlight Shawl  (ravelry link)

yarn Madelinetosh Merino Light in “Amber trinket” colorway

Knitting Started: 27 May 2012

Bound off: 4 June 2012

As for the Pretzel Dogs, I have made these twice in the last week. They were such a huge hit that my husband asked for them again. I guess these  will replace the regular Hot Dog Roll that I have made many time in the past. Well at least until he deploys again. I’m sure the kids will request both while he is gone.

Pretzel dogs: (adapted from Tracey’s Culinary adventures)
Dough

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 TBS sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

1 3/4 tsp instant yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 F)

4 TBS unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

8 hot dogs, halved

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)

Coarse Salt or Kosher Salt

Directions:

Add the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, water, and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low-speed until the dough comes into a rough ball. Knead on low-speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic (it should pull away from the sides of the bowl). Transfer the dough to a large bowl that’s been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 50 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 450 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the 10 cups of water and the baking soda in a large stockpot or roasting pan and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto your work surface. Divide it into 16 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into approximately a 12-inch rope. Wrap the rope around one halved hot dog – be sure to pinch the ends very well to seal (to reduce the likelihood that the dough unravels when you boil in the next step). Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough until you’ve wrapped all of the dogs.
One at a time, boil the pretzel dogs in the baking soda/water mixture for 30 seconds, transferring them to a wire rack afterward using a slotted spoon or spider strainer. Repeat with all 16 pretzel dogs. Transfer the dogs to the parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the pretzels are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with mustard or your favorite dipping sauce.

 

 

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