Archive

Monthly Archives: October 2011

 

This weekend my best friend Ashlyn came up to visit from North Carolina, and for our goodbye breakfast this morning (with both of our younger sisters), we made cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread with cream-cheese frosting. (We made the dough the night before, so that it was easy to put together in the morning.) The recipe from the bread is from Joy the Baker, and the recipe for the frosting is from Smitten Kitchen. Although the bread is undoubtedly delicious on its own, it was greatly enhanced by the frosting. The recipe for both is below.

 

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread:

  • 2 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs  flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk (I used 1% because it was all I had!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour with the sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and set aside.

Melt together the milk and butter until the butter has just melted. Add the water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until it is approximately 115-125 degrees (this is so it will activate the yeast).

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Now add the eggs and stir until well-combined. (It may seem like it’s never going to come together, but just keep stirring until it does!)  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture should be sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and allow to rise in a warm space until doubled in size, about one hour. (If you’re preparing this the night before, at this point put it in the refrigerator overnight for use in the morning. In the morning, let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the rest of the steps.)

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling, and set aside. Melt 1/2 stick of butter until it browns, and set aside.  Grease and flour a regular-sized loaf pan, and set aside.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it’s about 12×20 inches. Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  (I ended up using only about 3/4 of the mixture, and it was still plenty sweet.)

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again, until you have six stacks of six squares. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book.  Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.

Although the proper directions suggest letting the bread rest for 20-30 minutes, running a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen it, and releasing it onto a clean board, we kept the bread in the pan and spread the cream cheese frosting over it.

 

 

 

Cream cheese frosting:

Cream together two ounces of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, two tablespoons of butter, and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla in medium bowl. Spread glaze over the bread, placing in the oven to melt if necessary.

Delicious served with a cold glass of milk!

I repeat, I’m all about the crockpot right now.

Tonight I used it to make 1-2-3 soup. To accompany it, I made some sweet potato biscuits, the recipe for which I got from Rachel, a good friend and fellow RA. They were such a delight – a slightly sweeter, slightly smoother biscuit (with the texture of a pumpkin cookie) that I served with homemade maple cinnamon butter. Sweet potato biscuits are now another staple in the category of vegetables-in-baked-goods, which also includes carrot cake, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and chocolate zucchini bread.

Sweet Potato Biscuits:

  • 1 cup boiled sweet potatoes, mashed
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs brown sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk (add a tablespoon of lemon juice to almost ⅔ cup of milk)

Preheat oven to 435° F. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In medium bowl, beat butter into sweet potatoes. Add dry ingredients. Stir in a little of the buttermilk at a time. Gently mix until thoroughly moistened. Drop heaping tablespoons onto pan. Baste with buttermilk (optional). Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

To make the maple cinnamon butter, I melted 1/4 cup of butter with 1/8 cup of maple syrup, mixed well, added a dash of cinnamon, and refrigerated until it was solid. It complemented the biscuits perfectly.

 

 

I’m all about the crockpot right now. It allows me to relax before dinner, instead of rushing around trying to get everything ready at the same time. This morning Rebekah and I prepared orange chicken in the crockpot and, when we were ready to eat tonight, all we had to do was cook basmati rice and steam broccoli. How nice! The orange chicken recipe is super easy, too, and we’ll definitely make it again.

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken:
(from here)

  • 6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate (thaw or microwave for 45 seconds)
  • 4 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs salt
  • 3 Tbs ketchup
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Olive oil

In a small bowl, mix the orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and ketchup.

Put the flour in a separate bowl and coat the chicken pieces in it, shaking off the excess.

Pour a small amount of olive oil in a skillet and brown the floured chicken. (It’s okay if you don’t cook the chicken all the way, since it cooks in the crockpot.)

Then put the chicken in the crockpot, cover with the orange sauce, and stir completely. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2-3. Delicious served with rice and steamed vegetables.

Some foods are better left unphotographed, especially under the fluorescent lighting of my apartment. Unfortunately for me, those seem to be some of the foods I’ve made most recently: peanut sauce, chocolate mousse, apple sauce, and tomato soup. But the tomato soup was just so incredible that I had to share it, even if I included a picture that wasn’t my own. (Rebekah, my roommate, had never tried tomato soup before because she is only just now learning to appreciate tomatoes, but she loved it and requested that I make it more often.) So, presenting, the most delicious homemade tomato basil soup you’ll ever have….

From Jenny Steffens Hobick: The Best Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup:
(from here)

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 – 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 14 oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs fresh basil, julienned (or 3 tsp dried basil)
In a saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil on medium heat for one minute, then add the crushed tomatoes. Add the whole tomatoes one at a time, squeezing them into the pan to break them up, and add the juice, too. (A word of warning: I ended up splattering tomato juice all over my white walls because I didn’t think about the implications of squeezing a whole tomato. Be careful!) Add vegetable stock, salt, pepper and sugar. Cook the soup on medium at a simmer for 10 minutes. To finish, reduce the heat to low and stir in heavy cream and basil.  Best served with a grilled cheese sandwich. (We made paninis on our George Foreman grill with Italian bread and provolone cheese.)

 

 

 

 

While I was out on Friday, my roommate Rebekah stayed in and made dinner with some of her friends. She raved about it so much that I had to post it!

Tuscan Chicken with White Beans and Spinach:
(recipe from here)

  • 4 slices of lean bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil (divided)
  • 3 large chicken breasts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Dried basil, to taste
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of white beans, rinsed & drained
  • Baby spinach, to taste (we used approximately 1 cup)

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Once the bacon is cooked, place it on a paper towel and chop it into small pieces. After removing the grease from the skillet, add 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat. Season the chicken with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil.

Once the skillet is hot, add the seasoned chicken and cook until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet, wrap in tin foil to keep warm, and set aside.

Add the onion and cook, stirring often until tender (about 4 minutes). Add the minced garlic and cook stirring for about a minute. Pour the drained diced tomatoes and white beans into the skillet. Stir and cook for about 4 minutes and then add the spinach and the previously cooked chopped bacon. Finally, to add flavor to this delicious meal, season with sea salt, black pepper, and dried basil.  Ladle the mixture onto a plate, and top it off with the chicken.

Rebekah’s take on it: The dish was extremely good. After eating the meal, Grant and I decided it would have been better with a little more of the beans and tomato mixture because there wasn’t quite enough of the mixture to eat with the amount of chicken that was cooked. I would also recommend using thinner slices of chicken so that it cooks faster (ours were very big and took quite a bit of time to cook through). Overall, the experience was quite entertaining, and I look forward to cooking more new meals in the future.