Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sablés -- Tuesdays with Dorie

I'm finally back for Tuesdays with Dorie! Today's treat was selected by Barbara of Bungalow Barbara, thank you Barbara! You can find the recipe here at her site, along with lots of other delicious treats.

These cookies were very easy to make and absolutely delicious, I was surprised how much I liked them, and the husband and kids loved them as well. I can see making these again for a cookie tray, even though these cookies don't look fancy, it's the flavor and melt in your mouth texture that make them amazing.

I used some red and green decorating sugar, but think these would be so cute with nonpareils. I will have to try that next time. Painting the egg yolk on to these to have the sugar stick is a great direction, at first I wasn't sure about it and thought about skipping that step and just rolling the dough logs into the sugar, but I'm sure that the egg yolk really helped and am glad I didn't skip it. This is another wonderful recipe from Baking From My Home To Yours, and I'm sure I'll be making these often :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chewy Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

I found the base for these tasty treats in the 1999 Taste of Home Annual Recipes cookbook, it was titled Chewy Peanut Butter Bars and what really got me was the short ingredient list, these are a super easy one bowl cookie with very basic ingredients you are sure to have on hand.  I added Reese's Pieces before baking, and the result was one very tasty treat!

Chewy Reese's Pieces PB Cookie Bars
adapted from a Taste of Home recipe

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Reese's Pieces candies

Put all ingredients except for Reese's Pieces in a big bowl and mix thoroughly with electric mixer, spread into 9 by 13 pan -- you can either spray the pan with cookie spray or line it with aluminum foil and then spray it, so the bars are easy to lift out and evenly cut.

Evenly sprinkle the top of the bars with Reese's Pieces and gently press them down a little bit.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 - 35 minutes, I think if you were using a basic 9 by 13 pan 25 minutes would work, but I was using an air bake insulated 9 by 13, which always adds on some extra minutes. Let these cool and set up for a few hours before cutting and serving, do not try to serve them straight from the oven, they really benefit from cooling down.

My taste testers, picky husband and kids, really liked these! They are definitely more in the chewy bar cookie category as opposed to gooey or crunchy, so if you like peanut butter and chewy cookies, be sure to give these easy treats a try :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Broccoli Cheese and Rice Casserole

I have tried a few recipes for broccoli cheese and rice casseroles in the past, only to be disappointed, so when I started making this one, with no recipe and just an idea of how this classic comfort dish *should* taste, I was fully prepared to end up with another fail version. Thank goodness I was wrong, and persevered through another possible casserole disaster, because I think I've finally figured this recipe out :)

Lots of recipes I've seen for this classic start with cream of something soup, but not this one, it starts with cooked rice, steamed broccoli florets, and a delicious homemade creamy cheddar cheese sauce. To me this is a base recipe that could be jazzed up with some sauteed onions or mushrooms or garlic, and also lends itself to lots of variations based on the cheese you use.

Basic Broccoli Cheese and Rice Casserole

6 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 tablespoons flour -- I use wondra flour which is great for sauces
3 cups milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, as desired
2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar
4 1/2 - 5 cups cooked rice*, I used texmati brand jasmati which is like jasmine/basmati rice hybrid and cooks up nice and fluffy
1 lb steamed broccoli florets, steamed to just about desired doneness (frozen works fine, the kind you can steam in the microwave are great)

1 wrapped stack -- approx. 30 round buttery crackers (Ritz) crushed up
1/4 cup (1/2 sick) melted butter or margarine

*I used 5 cups and to me it seemed like it could have used a little less rice to make it even creamier, but my husband thought the texture was perfect with the 5 cups.

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt 6 tbsp butter or margarine over medium heat in large sauce pan with whisk in hand, add the flour and make a roux, cook for about 1 minute, whisking constantly, slowly add in 2 cups of the milk and salt, while whisking, and up the heat to medium high. After a few minutes when the sauce is bubbling and thickening, add the last cup of milk, cook a few more minutes, while whisking. Whisk 1 cup of cheese and turn off the heat.

Put the cooked rice in a very large bowl, pour the cheese sauce over the rice and mix thoroughly, add in the broccoli and mix again, add in the remaining 1 cup of cheese and mix again just to distribute the cheese.

Put the rice mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or spatula, top evenly with the crushed Ritz crackers, then drizzle the melted butter over the top.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the cracker topping in lightly toasted and golden brown. Enjoy!

We really enjoyed this comfort food side dish, and it was extra easy to put together, especially since I made the rice in the rice cooker while I got the broccoli and sauce ready. After that just mix it all up, pop it in the oven, and you are all set. I'm sure we'll be making this one again, especially with cold weather season fast approaching.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Spice Bread

This pumpkin bread is so moist and delicious! I found the recipe on recipezaar and played with the spices a touch -- using pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg called for and also adding extra vanilla.

I baked it in my Nordic Ware Pumpkin Harvest Loaf Pan that always gets me in a fun fall mood. I think I did not spread the batter in the pan well enough, just kind of scooped it in there, and that is why I ended up with the little bubbles on the cute pumpkin patch design. Honestly, I think it turned out kind of ugly this time around, I tried to fix it up with powdered sugar, but that didn't help either...oh-well.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Bread
adapted from recipezaar

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Stir flour, baking soda, and salt together and add to the butter and sugar. Add the pumpkin, sour cream, and pumpkin pie spice, mix together.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350F for 1 hour -- I think I had to bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes until it tested done.

Even thought it wasn't pretty, it sure was delicious! Even picky husband and kids liked this one :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sticky Buns -- Sweet Melissa Sundays

These are, hands down, the best sticky buns I've ever made, probably the best I've ever tasted! They were picked for us to try with Sweet Melissa Sundays by Jen of Not Microwave Safe a few Sundays ago, and while I did bake along with the group I just didn't get around to posting until now.

You can find the recipe for Melissa Murphy's amazing sticky buns here at Jen's site. The original recipe was for Sticky Buns with Toasted Almonds, and the toasted almonds are just sprinkled on top, so if you are not an almond fan you are safe to make these. I happen to love almonds, so made an almond bun for myself...

and left the rest plain for picky husband -- I figured I could sprinkle the toasted almonds on as desired. These didn't really need almonds, as they are amazing all by themselves with the pillowy soft dough and best sticky sauce ever, but I liked the little extra crunch the almonds added. Everyone in my family loved these, even picky husband! I think the sticky sauce is the key to these amazing buns, it is made with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup, absolutely delicoius.

Here are some process photos...

Check out this page for the recipe if you don't have the Sweet Melissa Baking Book. I've made quite a few recipes from this book while baking along with Sweet Melissa Sundays and while most of them turned out perfectly, I think this is my favorite, so delicious, and a recipe that will be made again and again for sure :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Deep Dish Veggie Pizza

We love pizza at our house, from crispy thin crust to extra cheesy deep dish, so when I saw this Pizzeria Uno Pizza Deep Dish Pizza Set on amazon I just had to buy it and see if I could recreate some Chicago style pizzas at home. I love Chicago deep dish, extra cheesy and saucy on top, my favorite is probably from Giordano's, although I've tried Gino's and Uno's, and really, they were all delicious. We are not that far (by train or car) from Chicago and used to do lots of weekend shopping trips there -- pre-kids, and a deep dish pizza was a must for dinner at least one night :)

This was my first try with the pan, I went for a more basic veggie deep dish, lots of mozzarella, provolone, a touch of home made san marzano pizza sauce, and plenty of mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes. I know it's not a traditional Chicago pie with the sauce on top but I was worried it might make the pizza too wet with all of these veggies, so I just added a little bit in between the layers of cheese and veggies.

I made this for the kids and I one night while husband was working, he doesn't eat mushrooms, or peppers, or tomatoes, picky guy that he is. The kids were excited to use our new pan that arrived in a pizza box (cute touch) and we had a fun time putting this one together.

The 'kit' itself comes with a 12 inch, 2 inch deep pan, a pizza cutter/server, and a 'menu' with a basic dough recipe and a handful of recipes for Chicago style pizza.

The pan is great but I do have one little complaint, the cutter/server mars the finish of the pan...and I usually never cut in the pan, but could not remove the pizza from the pan after baking since it is so huge -- I was looking through the little recipe menu for tips on top to remove pizza from pan, nope. So I went ahead and gently cut the pizza to serve it from the pan and was disappointed to see that the finish was all scratched from the cutter. Oh-well. I guess I'm just extra picky about stuff like that. Other than that this is a great pizza set, and we loved making a huge deep dish pizza at home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mallorcan Ensaimada -- Spanish Snail Shaped Bread Rolls

This is going to be a short sweet picture post, featuring Mallorcan Ensaimades (or ensaymadas) -- little snail shaped bread rolls. I saw these in one of my international bread cookbooks and thought the kids would love them, and of course they did.

It starts with a lightly sweetened yeast dough recipe that you cut into even sized chunks, which you then roll out into thin ropes, like making pretzels.

Coil the ropes into spiral snail shapes...

Let rise a second time and bake until golden brown and sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar...

Add a raisin for the eye, or leave plain...

Perfect split in half and served with butter and lingonberry jam :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars -- Barefoot Bloggers

Does any other combo sound as comforting as peanut butter and jelly? Doubtful, maybe macaroni and cheese, or mashed potatoes and gravy, but that's about it. Peanut butter and jelly, the classic combination, it just works. It works on a sandwich, works with pancakes, works with ice cream, and works in these delicious cookie bars by Ina Garten that just happen to be our first Barefoot Bloggers Challenge of November. This month we are doing something new, trying to cook a week of Ina Garten recipes, one dish a day. Doesn't that sound like fun? I don't think I'll get to all of the selected recipes but I think I will try to incorporate one Ina recipe in each day this week for our meals.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped -- I skipped these

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper -- I used Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts (I skipped these) and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.

What did we think? These were ultra rich and delicious. I noted a lot of reviewers on the Food Network site had a problem with these being over done on the edge of the pan and a little underdone in the middle. I would have to say that I did notice that, but just a little bit -- after letting them set up I think they were perfect. They are definitely in the 'ooey gooey' bar cookie category, and you most certainly need a glass of milk or two with these. Before I made them, I was thinking they might be more crispy crunchy, but that's just not how this bar cookie rolls :) This recipe makes a huge batch so you will have plenty to share.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Almond Brioche Bread Pudding with Raspberry Sauce

Time for Sweet Melissa Sundays! I missed baking along with the group last month but am back and ready to bake :) This Sunday's selection was picked by Candace of Candy Girl , she picked Melissa Murphy's Sweet Almond Bread Pudding with Raspberry Sauce. You can find the wonderful recipe here at her site if you do not have the Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

This was such a great pick for this time of the year, those of us with frost warnings and wind chills to worry about need something warm and comforting for dessert and this fits the bill, plus it adds a little something extra with the raspberry sauce to remind us of sweet summer berries.

I have never
been a huge bread pudding fan, but ever since we made Dorie's Chocolate Bread Pudding with Tuesdays with Dorie and I fiddled with the ratio of custard to dried bread, I've found the perfect balance for my tastes. I halved the custard part of the recipe, and reduced the bread my 1/4, so my bread puddings are a little more set and solid, rather than runny and gooey -- which does not appeal to me at all.

For this recipe the recommended bread is brioche, I made my own with this recipe for Golden Brioche from Epicurious. I've baked brioche a few times, and thought this would be a fun little extra baking project to do along with the bread pudding. The brioche was delicious and we had plenty left for snacking after I measured out about 12 ounces in cubes for this bread pudding. The original recipe calls for 1 lb loaf of brioche so I think that 12 ounces is just about 3/4 of that, right? For the custard I just halved the custard ingredients. So my new formula for bread pudding is 3/4 of the required bread and 1/2 of the required custard, perfect-o :)

Above is the brioche in the pan, I used a 2 quart deep dish glass pie plate. Below: adding the custard...

And here is the baked bread pudding, yum!

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