Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fail-proof Pizza Dough and Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks


I love cheesy garlic bread sticks... I love to eat them dipping in marinara sauce, or dipping in soup, or as a side for a dinner salad... YUM!! Today I made these to go with Pasta Fagioli and Chicken Gnocchi Soup...it's been raining all day and it's a bit chilly. Good day for Soup! I got this recipe here, it's one of my favorite recipe blogs. I followed the recipe as it was written, Thanks Lauren! Enjoy!

Fail-Proof Pizza Dough and Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey {or sugar}
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cups bread flour {give or take 1/2 cup...depending on the heat and humidity}
1/2 recipe Fail-Proof Pizza Dough from above
2 tablespoons softened salted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese {use the real stuff!}
1/4 pound grated mozzarella cheese
{salt and pepper, if desired}
DIRECTIONS:
For the pizza dough--In a large mixing bowl, preferably that of a stand mixer, stir yeast and honey into warm water. Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam. This tells you that the yeast is alive and kicking. Pour in salt, oil and half the flour and mix. Once that flour is incorporated, start adding flour in bit by bit until you get the pizza dough to the consistency you want: slightly tacky, but when you touch it it doesn't stick to your hands. Once you reach this stage, knead for 6 minutes. Turn a timer on and walk away! Resist the temptation to stop earlier than 6 minutes! That seems to be the magical number. The dough should be smooth and easy to work with. And the bowl should be clean! {*This is the point when you could freeze your dough!! Divide into portions, place into freezer bags, seal removing all air and freeze. To use, remove from freezer and let sit out to get to room temperature and double in size; 6-8 hours. Then use as you'd like.} Lightly grease the bowl and the dough so it doesn't dry out, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours. That's it! Use as desired.
For the Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks-
 Preheat oven to 475 degrees with pizza stone inside. {If you don't have a pizza stone, use an upside down cookie sheet...}
Mix butter and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.
Spread pizza dough out into a 12-inch circle on parchment paper. {This makes it easier to transfer to the pizza stone.}
Spread the butter and garlic mixture over dough and top with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Top with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, if desired. {That step is totally optional!}

Bake for 8 minutes! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Improved Chocolate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I tweaked this recipe just a bit. I still have the original recipe on my blog  (very first cookie recipe I ever posted) but I'm posting this with my tweaks. I took these cookies to my office on my last day there (moving offices) and they loved them. I think it's the butter rum extract that just added that yummo flavor. Enjoy!!

IMPROVED CHOCOLATE OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Cream together:
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Add:
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 teaspoon butter rum extract
Mix well.

Whisk together in a separate bowl:
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder ( I use a good dark dutch cocoa powder)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add to chocolate mixture, and mix well.

Stir in:
1 cup of quick Quaker oats
1 to 2 cups chocolate Chips (depending how chocolaty you want them) I use half semi-sweet chocolate chips and half milk chocolate chips.
 Drop by tablespoons full onto greased  or parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten just a bit with your fingers. Bake in 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes!! Enjoy!!

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

I love cheesecake..... my hubby's birthday was coming up and knowing that he LOVES peanut butter when I ran across this recipe, I just knew I had to make it for him. It was YUMMO! I love the peanuts in the topping and in the crust...they added a bit of saltiness which is good in a rich cheesecake. I think next time I make this I will add a few more peanut butter cups... but it was still yummy.  I followed the recipe almost exact, but I did tweak just a bit taking some things that I had found on other recipes that sounded delish and adding to this recipe. If you make this just have plenty of friends around to help you eat it, it's rich so you can't eat a very big piece! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake
**Please note--this is a Plan ahead cheesecake, it needs to chill for at least 4 hours

For the Crust:
4 1/2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar

To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combined the crushed graham crackers, sugar, and peanuts with the melted butter. Pat the crust mixture into a 10-inch springform pan. Be sure to pat crumbs up the side of the pan. Bake the crust for 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool

For the Filling:
4 (8oz) packages cream cheese
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 Reese's Peanut Butter cups, broken into small pieces (I might try 2 packages mini reese's next time I make this)

To make the filling:
Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Next add the sugar, peanut butter and whipping cream; mix until smooth.
Stir in the vanilla, then gently fold in the peanut butter cups with a rubber spatula.
Pour the filling into the crust. Place in a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil (you want this to be one piece and fold up the sides, you are going to place the cheese cake in a water bath and don't want water to seep into the spring form pan) Place the aluminum protected spring form pan into a larger baking pan. Place in the oven and pour hot water into the bigger pan until it comes 1 inch up the spring form pan. Bake at 275 for 1-1/2 hours or until firm and lightly browned. (if cake is not quite set, turn oven off and let sit in oven for another half an hour) Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and aluminum foil.

For the topping:
1 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup  unsalted peanuts

Combine Sour cream, sugar and peanut butter , mixing until smooth.  Spread over cheesecake and return to the 275 degree oven for 5 minutes.
Let cool for one hour on a cooling rack. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on the top. Refrigerate for another 4 hours before serving.
Enjoy!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sweet Spicy Shredded Pork

I came up with this recipe on my own.... My hubby and I have been eating LOTS of salads lately, and sometimes I get tired of cut up grilled chicken on mine. I love the pork that a popular restaurant puts on there salads so I tried to recreate it. This was awesome on a salad or in a quesadilla....would also be great as a filling for tacos with a cilantro lime coleslaw on it. YUMMO

Sweet Spicy Shredded Pork
a 2 or 3 pound pork roast (i like to use pork blade roasts)
1- 10 oz can medium enchilada sauce
1- 4 oz can diced green chilies
2 packed Tablespoons  brown sugar
ground chipotle pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Pour half the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a large crock pot. Place your pork roast in next and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little chipotle pepper.
Add the brown sugar and green chilies to the other half can of enchilada sauce and pour over the roast.
Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours until pouk is falling apart. Remove pork and bones from crock pot and throw away the bones. Next, strain the juice into a large skillet and bring to a boil; simmer until it becomes slightly thickened.
While your sauce is reducing shred the pork. Once the sauce is thickened add your shredded pork and the chilis that are left in your strainer (be sure you have removed any bones.) Toss to coat the pork in the sauce. Taste at this point, add more salt and pepper and more chipotle pepper if desired for more heat.
This is so good on a salad with a cilantro-lime ranch dressing or in a taco or quesadilla or a burrito with beans and rice, there are lots of things you can do with this yummy pork. Enjoy!