Saturday, April 30, 2011

Focaccia Bread.

Recipe 18.

Focaccia Bread (adapted from here).

Everyone. Pay attention. I'm not even kidding. This may or may not be my favorite thing I've made so far. And it was so easy. Please make this bread. I want to share all my joy and happiness with you.

Ok now that we are through with that, this bread was fantastic! Dip it in a little olive oil and pepper and it doesn't get any better than this, folks. And it only took a couple hours! Who could ask for more?

2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cups or more flour
1 tbsp coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp olive oil
minced garlic
shredded Parmesan
coarse salt
black pepper
fresh rosemary

In your mixer's bowl, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve, and let sit for 3 minutes until foamy.  Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve the salt in 2 tbsp of water and then add it to the mixture. Pour in the 1/4 cup olive oil. Increase the speed, and scrape the dough off the hook periodically.  After about 10 minutes the dough should be smooth and elastic.  Add flour when necessary.

Fold and knead the dough on the counter a few times, form into a ball, and set into a well-oiled bowl.  Oil every side of the dough so it doesn't form a skin, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place for only 45 minutes!

Coat a pan with olive oil. Once the dough is doubles in size, roll and stretch it into an oval-ish shape that will fit on your pan. Put it on the pan and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400.

Uncover the dough and press into it with your fingertips to create the 'dimples.' Brush the surface with more olive oil and then add as much garlic, olives, cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary as you'd like! Try topping it with nearly any spice! Bake on the bottom rack for 15 or 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Please please tell me if you make this and how it turns out! I want to make it again right now.

Banana Split Cupcakes.

Recipe 17.

Banana Split Cupcakes (from Heat Oven to 350, again).

If maraschino cherries aren't your thing, you may want to rethink these. But if you love them, this is the cupcake for you! I'm impartial to them, really. But it was so fun to make a dessert within a dessert!

1 yellow cake mix (box or homemade)
1 cup water
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
3 eggs
1 cup chopped drained maraschino cherries
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 1/2 cups prepared vanilla frosting
1 cup marshmallow creme
30 whole maraschino cherries, drained and patted dry

Heat oven to 350 and line your cupcake pans with liners! Save 2 tablespoons of your cake mix for later, and combine the cake mix, water, bananas, and eggs in a large bowl. Beat until moistened, and then beat at a medium speed for 2 more minutes.

Chop up a cup of the cherries. This part is messy but fun! Combine the cherries with the 2 tablespoons of cake mix, and add them to the mixture, along with the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the liners and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool, as in let them become room temperature. But they also are really cool.

Combine the frosting and marshmallow creme in a bowl until well blended to make the marshmallow frosting. Annndddd put a cherry on top!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blueberry Cream Cookies.

Recipe 16.

Blueberry Cream Cookies (from Heat Oven to 350)
These aren't your average cookies. And it's a lot harder to find dried blueberries in April than you'd think.  My 3rd grocery store was a charm.  Anyway, when I described to a non-baker that these were "summer cookies," they looked at me as if there was no such thing as a cookie for a specific time of year. Come on people! Christmas time has its own cookies; why can't summer?

They are thin, crisp, and less sugary, buttery, and oily than any triple-chocolate-hand-dipped-add-some-whip-cream-cookies. But don't get me wrong, they are still fantastic. People kept coming back for more, and when my last one was eaten, a little piece of me died.

They are the perfect mix of fruit and sugar and beauty. They take a little longer than your average cookie, but thats because they are waaayyyy above average.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs light brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 large egg
1 cup dried blueberries
1 recipe Milk Crumbs (see below)

Milk Crumbs:
1/4 cup plus 1 T nonfat dry milk powder
2 T all-purpose flour
1 T cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup white chocolate, melted

To make the milk crumbs, heat up the oven to 225. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp of milk powder, the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Stir in melted butter until well combined. Spread mixture on baking sheet and bake until dried and crumbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool. They will look 
almost exactly the same. Surprise:
Transfer milk crumbs to a large bowl and mix in remaining 2 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp milk powder and white chocolate. Set aside.

For the cookies: Preheat oven to 375. Sift dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Set aside and cream together butter, sugars, and corn syrup until combined.  Add your eggs and mix again. 
Pour in the dry mixture a little bit at a time and mix in until you get cookie dough! Mix in the milk crumbs and dried blueberries until just mixed. Shape dough into balls and place onto baking sheets.
Bake at 375 until cookies are golden brown and tops begin to crack. It took mine about 11 minutes, and I made about 3 dozen cookies.
I obviously couldn't decide which pictures to use. They were just too pretty!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cadbury Egg Cookies.

Recipe 16.

Cadbury Egg Cookies.
(from a conglomerate of places, but mostly this one)

1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
1/2 cup melted, unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1 bag miniature Cadburry eggs

Preheat the oven to 350.  Crush your chocolate eggs in a bag with a rolling pin, mallet, or a hammer if you are as awesome as me and your neighbors already hate you from the time you smashed Lemonheads so it doesn't really matter if you do it again.

Cream the butter and sugars until the are light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then slowly add it into the wet mixture. Add the Cadbury eggs and beat a couple more times.  You want to dough to be a little wet, these cookies are supposed to turn out brownie-like.

Drop balls of dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for... drum roll... EIGHT minutes! That's right, you are only 8 minutes away from heavenly bliss. 

Then hurry and distribute them onto paper plates and deliver them as fast as you can to keep from having enormous love handles. Because once you pop, you just can't stop.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Soft Pretzels.

Recipe 15.

Soft Pretzels.

1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ounces melted butter
vegetable oil
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water
more kosher salt

Combine the warm water, sugar, and 1 tsp kosher salt in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes; the mixture should start to foam.  Add the flour and butter and mix with a hook attachment until well combined. Then change your mixer to medium and let it knead the bread for 4 or 5 minutes. Remove the dough, clean the bowl, oil the bowl, set the dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 50-55 minutes or until the dough doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two cookie pans with parchment paper or oil really well. Set aside.  Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a big pot.

While you're waiting, oil up your counter and pull the dough out. Divide it into 8 equal pieces.

Roll out each piece of the dough into a long rope (about 18 inches or so). Make a U-shape with the rope.

Cross the ends of the rope over each other to create the pretzel shape.

One by one, place each pretzel into the boiling mixture for about 30 seconds.

I was so afraid they would come apart in the pot but they turned out just fine! The baking soda and water just made the pretzels puff up some and hold together.

When the pretzels are back on the cookie sheets, brush the top of them with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture. Sprinkle on as much kosher salt as you desire. Be careful, that stuff is potent.

Bake until they are a dark, golden brown.  It took mine about 12 or 14 minutes.

The best part of the pretzels is that they can be frozen and then nuked later and they will taste just like new!  Also, you can take some to your great-grandmother.

Monkey Bread.

Recipe 14.

Monkey Bread
(from my mom)

This may be the easiest thing you'll ever make with the most wonderful outcome. And it's perfect for Saturday morning General Conference. You won't regret it.

36 oz (2 packages) refrigerated biscuit dough
1 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9 or 10 inch Bundt pan. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a big ziploc.  Separate the biscuits and cut them into fourths.  The quickest way for me was with a pizza cutter. Put 6-8 pieces into the bag of cinnamon sugar, and toss around until covered.  Place the pieces into the pan. Do this with all the pieces until the pan is about 3/4 full.  If you want to throw nuts or raisins in between layers you can. I went plain this time.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar and boil for about one minute, and then pour it over the biscuits.  Bake for 35 minutes, let the bread cool for 10 minutes, and then turn it out onto a plate.

Pull off as many pieces as you desire, and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Basic Yellow Cake

Recipe 13.

Basic Yellow Cake
(from my own head, with the inspiration from 4 or 5 different recipes)

I once again apologize for the lack of quantity and quality of pictures.
This cake was for the same rushed party.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla

Grease two 9" round cake pans. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. In your stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time. And flour mixture in parts until each addition is well blended. I have a confession.  My cake didn't look very yellow, so I actually added a few tablespoons of buttermilk and then a few drops of yellow food coloring. No one ever knew. Pour batter into pans, and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Please don't overcook them like I did. I was devestated because I didn't have time for a redo. Cool for 15 minutes before layering and frosting.

Are you starting to see the correlation between mistakes and rushing? I have an issue. Take your time, people. Enjoy the process of baking, and don't decide last minute to throw a birthday party for someone. But look how happy the cake made everyone!

Except Mr. Lead Singer in the window. He doesn't look too happy for some reason. Perhaps my overdone cake offends some. But Ee Chien is definitely thrilled about the cake.

Texas Sheet Cake

Recipe 12.

Texas Sheet Cake
(from my mom from my aunt)

It's funny how anything with the word "Texas" in it is incredibly appealing and must be had/bought/made by a Texan girl. 

My favorite part of this cake was telling people, "It's Texas sheet cake," and watching their faces when they connect my home country with my creation.  Then they tease me.  In the same way people (who decided on their own to come to college in Utah) complain about Utah, they try to resist Texan pride by mocking it.  But they were weak arguments, they couldn't stop eating the cake anyway. Texas will always win. You'll agree once you have a slice.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 tbsp cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter
3 tbsp cocoa
6 tbs milk
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Sorry about the pictures, I had two hours to make three cakes for a last-minute birthday party. So I pretty much forgot about my camera until the party was about to start, snapped some shots, and regretted it later.

Many Texas sheet cakes are sweeter than this one.  I loved this one because the balance between the cake and frosting was perfect. And it was so easy to make! It was a hit; both sheet cakes were gone by the end of the night.

Boil the butter, shortening, cocoa, and water for the cake. Sift the dry ingredients. Pour the mixture over all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

While baking, boil the butter, cocoa, and milk for the icing.  Add in a whole pound of powdered sugar (celebrate!) and the teaspoon of vanilla.  Mix it up and pour it over cake as soon as the cake comes out of the oven. Let set for about 20 minutes before serving.

Oh, and when you are making the frosting and it is looking super weird and not frosting-like, check the recipe. You forgot to add the pound of powdered sugar. Believe me, you can add it in still, it isn't picky.

"Texas does not, like any other region, simply have indigenous dishes. It proclaims them. It congratulates you, on your arrival, at having escaped from the slop pails of the other 49 states."
 - Alistair Cooke

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

Recipe 11.

Banana Creme Pie

one baked pie crust (I just bought frozen pie dough, pie crust is for another day)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
4 sliced bananas

Combine sugar, flour, and salt in a saucepan.  Add in milk while stirring, and then pump up the heat! Actually, only cook at a medium heat until it becomes bubbly, and then stir and cook for about 2 more minutes. Stir in a part of the hot mixture with the beaten yolks, and then add it all right back in. Cook for two more minutes, and then add butter and vanilla.  Stir until it is all smooth and pudding-like.

Some like to mix the banana pieces in with the pudding, but I decided to layer mine across the bottom of the crust, and poured the mixture on top. Save some banana slices for later!

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  Chill in the fridge for about an hour. Then, if you are awesome like me, you'll put a whole 5" layer of cool whip on top. Ok, 5" was an exaggeration, but if you do that, please take a picture and become my hero.

Make sure you have 6 or 7 of your favorite people on hand, because it will be gone in 15 minutes flat. No joke. This was probably THE best banana pie I've ever had.