Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Best Homemade White Bread EVER

I LOVE home made bread... especially still warm from the oven slathered in butter..... yum! This recipe was on Facebook and it looked too good not to try. I had a good recipe for white bread that I thought I'd never find better but my goodness this recipe is awesome. I love homemade bread that's soft and not too crumbly, but still has a good chewy crust and this was it. I have always rubbed butter over my loaves of bread after they cool about five minutes... that is what makes them shiny. This bread also makes great toast ...especially with Jam. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Homemade Bread
click here for recipe site
2 cups warm water
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 TB sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 Tablespoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
5-7 cups of bread flour, white or wheat will work too (can use more if needed) all purpose flour is ok to use too.. that's what I had
1 TB shortening--to grease loaf pans (I use non-stick cooking spray)
1 TB butter (to top bread)

1. Place the yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Pour the warm water (not too hot) over the yeast mixture and let it sit for 15-20 minutes, or until nice and bubbly.
2. Combine melted butter, sugar, evaporated milk and salt into a large mixing bowl. When your yeast mixture is ready add them together and mix.
3. If you are using a stand mixer put on your bread hook and then pour in 3 cups of flour. If not you can stir/kneed it as well. Then add in 1 cup of flour at a time and mix. When you get to 5 cups of flour in the bowl, add in 1/2 cup more of flour at a time until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides. You'll know it's ready when your fingers no longer stick to the dough.
4. Then cover the ball of dough and sides of the bowl with shortening and cover the bowl with a warm towel. Set by the window and allow it it rise (approx 1.5 hours). When it has risen over the bowl punch it down and place on a floured surface.
5. Kneed the dough for 2-3 minutes.
6. Cut dough into two pieces and roll them out into a rectangle. Roll the dough up and place into 2 greased bread pans.
7. Let the bread rise again, and when it looks like a good loaf of bread place them in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. When the bread is done, cool for 5 minutes then rub the top with butter and remove onto a cooling rack.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Banana Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup

I never said I was the best photographer... and of course I chose the ugliest pancake for myself and the rest were eaten by the time I took a picture so excuse the photo above. But boy oh boy were these the best Banana Pancakes ever! I love the Peanut Butter maple syrup on them too and of course.... bacon on the side. The syrup kind of reminds me of those peanut butter rice krispie treats we love. I think I'll make these over the holidays for my company.... Yummo!!!

Banana Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup
adapted from Once upon a chef

For Pancakes
  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • small, over-ripe banana, peeled (the browner, the better)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons low fat milk
  • large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract (or more.... LOVE vanilla)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • For the Syrup
  • 1 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter

Make the syrup first. I am guessing at the amount I used.... I poured my maple syrup in a small saucepan. Heat until warm then add your  peanut butter and whisk until smooth... you can add more syrup or more peanut butter according to you taste. Keep warm while you make the pancakes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mash the banana with a fork until almost smooth. Whisk in the eggs, then add the milk and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour the banana mixture and the melted butter into the flour mixture. Fold the batter gently with a rubber spatula until just blended; do not over-mix. The batter will be thick and lumpy.
Set a griddle or non-stick pan over medium heat until hot. Put a pad of butter and one tablespoon vegetable oil onto the griddle, and swirl it around. (Or spray with non-stick cooking spray like I do)
Drop the batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto the griddle, spacing the pancakes about 2 inches apart. Cook until a few holes form on top of each pancake and the underside is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top is puffed, 1 to 2 minutes more. Using the spatula, transfer the pancakes to a serving plate.
Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve the pancakes while still hot with Peanut Butter maple syrup.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Best Ever Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I LOVE  pumpkin chocolate chip cookies... nothing says 'Autumn time' like a warm pumpkin chocolate chip cookie still warm from the oven don't you agree? I have been looking for a recipe that was awesome for these cookies... I have posted some but some are too spongy... others are too dry.. This one was just perfect. Try adding a 1/2 cup cinnamon chips along with the chocolate chips for additional yumminess! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Cooking classy
Yield: About 30 cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup  vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup  milk chocolate chips
  •  Optional: try adding 1/2 cup cinnamon chips along with the chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt for 20 seconds, set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together granulated sugar, brown sugar and vegetable oil until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla then blend in pumpkin puree. With mixer on low speed, slowly add in flour mixture and mix just until nearly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed (batter will be pretty wet).
  •  With a rubber spatula, fold in chocolate chips while folding batter to evenly combined. Drop dough 2 Tbsp (either using a medium cookie dough scoop or using two spoons) at a time onto baking sheets lined with Silcone liners or parchment paper, spacing cookies two inches apart. Bake in preheated oven about 10 to 12 minutes until cookies are nearly set (you don't want to pull them out before they are done or they'll taste raw, not a cookie you want to under-bake. The top layer of the cookie should be cooked through). 
  • Allow to cool several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store in a single layer in an airtight container . (I think they are best when eaten still slightly warm)... soft pillowy cookies! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

No Churn Peanut Butter Ripple Ice Cream

Oh my heavens this is good..... and easy. I found this recipe here and had to give it a try. I have been wanting to make a rich creamy homemade ice cream for a while. I borrowed my parents ice cream make this summer and made a root beer ice cream but man after getting the ice, the ingredients and then letting in churn and churn and then still having to freeze for a couple of hours before eating, this recipe seemed like heaven. AND it was!! So rich and creamy and perfect. I did have to top mine with chopped dry roasted peanuts.... I love ice cream and nuts.... but that's optional. Go ahead... give this one a try. You won't be sorry.

No Churn Peanut Butter Ripple Ice Cream
6 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter, divided
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons peanut butter chips
2 cups (16 ounces) heavy cream
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 In a medium size saucepan, combine 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the creamy peanut butter and peanut butter chips. Heat over low heat until completely melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit.
2 In a large bowl using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of the peanut butter on high speed until smooth and thick (about 3-4 minutes).

3 Spoon ⅓ of the ice cream into the bottom of a freezer-safe container or bowl (I prefer a loaf pan). Layer half of the melted peanut butter chips evenly over the ice cream, using a spatula to spread it around. Spoon another ⅓ of the ice cream on top of the peanut butter layer, and repeat layering with remaining melted peanut butter chips and ⅓ of the ice cream. Submerge a butter knife into the container and run it up and down the length of the container to "swirl" the peanut butter. Cover tightly and freeze overnight, or at least 8 hours. Ice cream can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Puff Pastry Tarts

I love baking... I love autumn time and the fruits that are available at the grocery stores and farmers markets. I especially LOVE the smell of fall baking... Yum!! I haven't baked with puff pastry much but Alton Brown had a Good Eats episode on puff pastry and showed this recipe. I tweaked it a little but the original recipe is here. Enjoy!!

Puff Pastry Tarts
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
Sugar, for dusting (I used cinnamon sugar)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced into wedges

1 ripe peach, peeled, and thinly sliced into wedges
1 ripe plum, thinly sliced into wedges
Apricot or peach  jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. After puff pastry has thawed, place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Unfold, and cut into 3 even strips. Move so they are a couple of inches apart.
I used a mandolin to cut my apple slices, just have them thin as possible. The peaches and plums I had slightly thicker. 
Poke pastry sheets with a fork down the center but leave about a 1/2 inch on the sides un-poked to provide an outlet for steam. Sprinkle pastry with sugar (or cinnamon sugar) and arrange apple slices an plum / peach slices on top.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Poke the crust; if it feels soft it needs more time in the oven.
Microwave some apricot jam for 30 seconds. When the tarts come out of the oven dab (don't brush) the jam on the tarts. Cool tarts at least 4 hours and seal in a resealable plastic bag. Serve at room temperature or heat in the microwave and top with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Best Bacon Jam ever!

 I first got introduced to Bacon Jam at a cute little cafe in Dayton, Washington. I ordered a smoked turkey panini that had bacon jam on it and was hooked! I found this recipe while searching for a good one on line and it's amazing! I made panini's on focaccia bread with smoked turkey, provolone cheese, thin sliced tomatoes, lettuce and the bread was spread with a garlic aioli, and of course this bacon jam--see the picture at the bottom.  You gotta try it! The next day I made grilled hamburgers and we put this on those too! So delicious! This reminds me of a good baked bean taste... only without the beans. Enjoy!

Best Bacon Jam
original recipe found here
Makes: 2 cups
1 lb. thick cut bacon
2 extra large sweet onions, quartered and thickly sliced
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup strong brewed coffee
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Cut the bacon into half inch slices and add to a large frying pan. Don't worry if the bacon pieces stick together, they will come apart as they cook. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the bacon is cooked but still quite chewy. A few crispy bit are ok.
Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings and reserve for another use.
Add the onions to the pan and cook for about 8-10 minutes then reduce the heat to low. Add sugar and stir. Continue to cook until the onions have caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the coffee, ½ cup of water and the reserved bacon and increase the heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring about every five minutes, until the onions are thick and jam-like, about 30 minutes.
 Remove from heat and stir through the balsamic. Taste for seasoning and salt if necessary.
Use immediately or refrigerate for up to a week. Bring back to room temperature before serving. There will be little spots of white fat when you take it out of the fridge. As the jam comes to room temperature, these will disappear.
LOVE this stuff!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Smoky Shrimp and Corn Chowder

I love soup and chowders in the Fall... when the air starts to get that chilliness to it, Soup just hits the spot. I saw this on a cooking show on PBS and had to give it try. 

Smoky Shrimp and Corn Chowder

I bought frozen shrimp which I let thaw out in the refrigerator. Then I washed and shelled it. I husked 3 ears of corn. This I put on my Traeger smoker, which I had set to 275 degrees. I set my shrimp on a vegetable grill tray that I sprayed with a non stick cooking spray. I put the tray in the smoker along with my husked and rinsed corn on the cob. I let this smoke for 30 minutes.
1 pound smoked large shrimp (smoked for 30 to 60 minutes at 300 degrees F)
        •       2 ears corn,  smoked with shrimp
2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots or 1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, trimmed, thoroughly washed, shaken dry, and thinly sliced
4 red new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
                1 Tablespoon flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken or fish stock, preferably homemade
1 cup heavy cream
After the corn and shrimp are smoked; set aside to cool.
Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add the shallots and leeks and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, 3 minutes, stirring often.
 Increase the heat to high and add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook until the potatoes are browned and crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the flour and season well with salt and pepper. Cook another minute. 
 Stir in the chicken stock and simmer over medium heat until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. 
While the potatoes are cooking, chop the smoked shrimp into bite size pieces and cut the corn off the cob. Add to the chowder along with the cream and simmer until the soup is richly flavored, 5 to 10 minutes more. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. 

 Ladle the chowder into bowls and serve with crusty french bread.

Tips: I boiled by shrimp shells in the chicken broth while the shrimp and corn were smoking. Then I strained it and used that broth in my soup instead of regular chicken broth. 
I also made a white sauce with the heavy cream, like you do for macaroni and cheese only without the cheese. Then I added to the soup when it says to add the cream. This just makes a thicker chowder like soup. Feel free to just use cream if you like.