Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Cream Cheese Bread

This is a Cream Cheese Homemade bread I make every year for Christmas which always disappears rapidly. This year I just sprinkled it with decorative sugar but you can glaze it or decorate it in any number of ways.

I find it almost impossible to keep the braid 100% intact during rising and baking so I use toothpicks to at least keep it as "together" as possible. I once made one where I painstakingly made the overlapping slices long enough that I could bind them with warm water and it held together. But I found to do that, you use much less filling and I like a lot of filling in my bread.

I say, "Let the filling be free!"

I recently moved and couldn't locate the recipe, and although I'm sure I could have made it from memory, I found a similar one at King Arthur flour, just to be certain of measurements. It worked like a charm.


2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour


8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
Dough: Combine sugar, milk water and yeast and let rest until it becomes bubbly. (Proofed) add the balance of the ingredients and mix and knead them together until you've made a soft, smooth dough. Place dough in a greased bowl, turn over, and cover with a moist towel. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

Filling: While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by mixing all of the ingredients together until smooth. Chill untill ready to use.
Assembly: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, punch down and let it rest for 5 minutes. Divide it in half. Roll each half into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Transfer rolled dough to baking pan spread with parchment paper. Spread half of the filling lengthwise down the center third of each rectangle. Cut 1-inch-wide strips from each side of the filling out to the edges of the dough. Fold about an inch of dough at each end over the filling to contain it, then fold the strips, at an angle, across the filling, alternating from side to side. Secure with toothpicks.

Baking: Allow the braids to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till almost doubled in size. Brush with a glaze made from 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water, and sprinkle with sparkling white sugar, if desired; then bake the braids in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack. Yield: 2 braids.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Audrey Jane....

Sorry, I just had to. I finally met my granddaughter and held her.......

My baby girl's baby girl.....  I couldn't be happier.

I'll be back to cooking and baking in a bit.....   :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Applesauce Banana Bread

Kitchenaid Classic Plus 4.5-Qt. Stand Mixer (Google Affiliate Ad)

Do you happen to have Amazon Fresh in your area?  It's a home delivery grocery service from Amazon.Com and I've used it for two years now and really like it. The
prices are very reasonable, if you buy enough from them the delivery is free.

It's very convenient to just go online and order routine items, such as paper towels, toilet paper, sugar, flour, produce, beer, milk, juices, cereal, and even produce, meats,  etc.

They have one quirk though. Sometimes, they will run out of an item just as your delivery is coming up. So, even though you ordered it, you don't receive it.

They adjust your bill of course, but it can be annoying, especially if you were going
to make something and don't receive it.

Two weeks ago, I received my order from Amazon Fresh and noticed the bananas
I ordered didn't show up.  Oh well, I figured they were just out.

10 days later, a bag I had stored in the pantry with a six pack of beer, I noticed had
my bananas in them! So I did receive them, I just didn't know it. And now they were over ripe. 

Only one solution.

Applesauce Banana Bread!

I like to add applesauce as a substitute for oil or butter. It's healthier, and adds moistness and depth to the finished bread.

Cream cheese or butter on it fresh from the oven.


Ingredients and Method:

3 or 4 bananas (over-ripe)
1 cup white sugar
2 -3 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour ( I used bread flour and it was fine, but all purpose works well)

Mix bananas and sugar with mixer until well blended and the bananas are completely

Add eggs and applesauce and mix.

Add the flour and baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract.

Combine thoroughly. It should be a fairly thick batter.

Spray a 8 or 9 inch loaf pan and gently spoon batter into pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Check to see if a toothpick comes out clean
at 40 minutes, and bake more if still not fully baked. Do not over bake or it will be dry.

You want it done but retaining the moistness.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I have been a bit negligent with my blog. Haven't felt like creatively cooking for a while. Life has a way of getting in the way some times.

I got laid off. My daughter got married. Did the unemployment gig. Found a job. Had a small health issue or two. And, to top it off, three weeks ago, got laid off AGAIN!

And yet, I'm in a good place. I'm doing the unemployment gig again, and........yet am in a happy mood...I'll find a job. I might even move closer to Portland, OR to be closer to my Son and my Daughter, and my........ (drumroll)

I have a granddaughter.  Please meet Ms. Audrey Jane Skidmore.

And I promise to start picking up the blogging of good recipes again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lime Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Summertime. Of my favorite summer desserts. One of the blogs I follow is Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Her recipes are impressive, photography is great, and I enjoy her writing. She posted a recipe recently that from the photo alone, I just had to make. So, hats off to Peabody and thanks for sharing.

I love the taste of these bars, and there's nothing like fresh raspberries, is there?  Give them a try. They are so delicious.

Adapted from Culinary Concoctions.

Ingredients and Method:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon lime zest
4 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt

2 packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice or key lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, lime zest, and salt in a bowl. Pour the butter over the mixture and mix well. Scrape crumb mixture into greased 9 x 13 baking dish, press down evenly,  and bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and  set aside.

Combine cream cheese and sugar and combine with a mixer. Add egg yolks, and beat until well blended. Add lime juice and zest and mix thoroughly.

Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared graham cracker pan and spread evenly.

Raspberry Mixture
1 pint fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice

Combine raspberries, sugar and lime juice  in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the berries juice and the sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally. Bring to a boil, stir, and turn off heat. Let cool until warm.

Prepare a square of cheesecloth, spoon raspberry mixture into center, (you may have to do twice, depending on the cheesecloth size) pull together four quarters, and begin turning cheesecloth to squeeze out the raspberry sauce into a bowl, leaving the seeds behind. Yeah, it's going to get all over your hands but it's worth it. I find this way to much easier than using a strainer.

Drop the raspberry mixture onto the top of the filling randomly. Using a knife or spatula, swirl the raspberry mixture into the cheesecake filling.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes until it is set in the center and starting to brown around the edges. Let cool
completely, and cut into bars. Using a knife dipped in hot water, and dried, will aid the cutting of the bars.

Store in refrigerator.

I took these to work and they "vanished"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Savings by the Chopstickful: Send Your Taste Buds to China

Anyone who has ever lived on a student’s or otherwise restrictive budget knows that eating out can be a real luxury. The remedy for any student’s dietary blues is often Chinese food, which uses inexpensive ingredients and is filling. Here are three recipes that cut out the middleman and let you take control of the Chinese food you eat:

Chinese Boiled Chicken

Spark People provides us with this method for preparing a truly versatile dish:

  • 1 chicken or chicken cutlets, boneless or otherwise
  • Chicken bullion

Preparation is easy: bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the chicken into it once it reaches a rolling boil. When the boiling stops, remove the chicken and cover the pot. When boiling starts again, replace the chicken in the pot. Cover the pot again, remove heat, and leave for one hour. This easy preparation method readies your chicken for anything with minimum hassle!

Wonton Soup

Everybody is familiar with wonton soup, and now your wallet will love it as much as your kids! This recipe comes to us from the Food Network:

  • Meat from 1 spare rib, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 cup broccoli

Once you’ve got these items together, mix the meat, carrot, and scallions in a small bowl. You can make the wontons by filling a wrapper with a tablespoon of filling and sealing the edges with dampened water. Then, bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan, add the wontons and broccoli and cook for three minutes.

Chinese Fried Rice

Rice is so inexpensive and comes in such a high quantity that it practically pays for itself! Doctor up your plain white rice with this cheap recipe for fried rice. You’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 drops soy sauce
  • 3 drops sesame oil
  • 8 ounces cooked, lean boneless pork or 8 ounces chicken chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot 
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 4 cups cold cooked rice, grains separated
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups bean sprouts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce

To start, heat one tablespoon of oil in a wok, add the onions and stir-fry until onions brown. Mix your egg with a few drops of soy and sesame oil and cook quickly in the wok. Once your egg is cooked, chop and set aside. Oil the wok again and add your choice meat along with carrots, peas, and cooked onion. After two minutes add the rice, green onions, and bean sprouts. Once these are cooked, add your egg to the rice mixture, heat, and serve!

These fun recipes will wow your guests and keep your wallet plump!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Orleans Beignets

This is a re-post of mine, but it's because I made these this morning, and ate them, hot from the oil, with a cup of coffee and a cold glass of milk, and I'm tellin' ya.   No better start to the day than these....

In my travels I have been to New Orleans about 8 times. And a mandatory stop when I'm there was always Cafe du Monde famous for it's chicory coffee and beignets, a square french raised donut. They are served warm and piled high with powdered sugar.

The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It closes only on Christmas Day and on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans.

As I raised children, I would often make us beignets for breakfast, and sure enough as they grew up, and traveled to New Orleans themselves, they too always stop at Cafe du Monde. Do give these a try. They are easy to make, and really wonderful with a steaming hot cup of coffee au lait. This recipe was derived (and adapted slightly) from a box of Beignet Mix I bought while there.

Ingredients and Method:

3/4 cup water, very warm, not hot
1/4 cup sugar
1 envelope dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons shortening or butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup evaporated milk
oil for frying (vegetable or peanut oil, preferably)
powdered sugar (about 1 cup)

In a bowl or mixer with dough hook, add sugar, yeast and warm water. Stir briefly to mix, and let sit while it proofs and becomes foamy. (this means the yeast is good)

Add two cups of flour, salt, evaporated milk, salt, and beaten egg and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour.

Mix in shortening or butter.

Add balance of flour and mix until sticky dough forms into a ball. Add additional flour, if needed, in 1/4 cups increments.

Transfer dough to floured board and knead briefly and form into ball. (I usually let the dough hook knead the dough for about 5 minutes which greatly decreases the time hand-kneading is required)

Transfer to greased bowl, and turn over. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour. (Or overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning let dough come to room temperature)

Roll out dough to about 1 inch thickness, and slice dough into two inch squares, or triangular shapes. Cover with plastic wrap in place and let rise again for one hour.

Heat oil in a skillet to 375 degrees. Fry a few beignets at a time in the oil, turning once when browned on one side. It should take approximately 4 minutes per side. You should tend to the frying closely as they will cook really quickly. Move to paper towels and drain well.

Place on plate and sprinkle LIBERALLY with powdered sugar.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Two Layer Key Lime Pie

One of my favorite family recipes. I've been making this for years and my kids loved it as they were growing up. Whenever my youngest son visits from college, it's mandatory I make it and let him take it with him to school.

It's a basic key lime pie but with an extra layer. You can make your own crust or just buy it in the bakery section at the store. I can't tell the difference frankly.

Ingredients and Method:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or prepared shell)
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice (Fresh if you can find them in season)
1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup key lime juice
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar and press into pie pan. Place into 350 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Combine condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks. Pour into crust and bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees.

Remove and let cool completely.

Mix together room temperature cream cheese, vanilla, condensed milk, lime juice and sugar. Pour carefully onto key lime filling and refrigerate until set. Serve garnished with whipped cream.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Meatball Spinach Pasta Soup

I like blogging for a number of reasons, but one is that you get to experiment.  I do search other recipes online and adapt them or change slightly, occasionally  or even remain the same exactly, but I always try to give credit.

And every once in a while, I just go out to the kitchen, and kinda make it up.

And sometimes I come in from the kitchen, after just having thrown away my "creation"....  but I learn from it.

But here's the deal. Every once in a while, I go out to the kitchen, and kinda make it up, and I hit a home run.

And this time I did.  It's kind of an Italian Wedding Soup theme, but man, this soup just rocked. And you don't have to take my word for it. 5 people at A Terrible Beauty tried it, loved it, and two guys I work with tried it and raved.

I'm calling it Meatball Spinach Pasta Soup. OK?

So I'm pleased to share.

And it's nice to come out of the kitchen, with something you want to share. Ya know??

And here, don't even look at the ingredients yet.

Just imagine a warm fragrant chicken broth, with a touch of Italian spice, the depth of onion, garlic, and leeks, the sweetness of tomato,  chewiness of the pasta and the fall apart tender meatballs who have their own seasonings, and then you get the spinach and dill that roll over your tongue,  balanced by a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan/Reggiano cheese.

And yeah, you gotta make your own meatballs for this. (Well, you don't have to, I guess) I know, a pain, but once you make them, try them in the soup, you'll be making meatballs forever with my recipe.  They are the same meatballs you can use in spaghetti, grinders, BBQ appetizers.... they are versatile.

And they're easy.... Here's the link:

Also if you'd like to make your own Chicken Broth, here is my link for that.

Ingredients and Method:

 6 - 10 meatballs from my recipe or store bought (Par-bake mine for 12 minutes at 350 to render some fat)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium leeks, washed and thinly chopped (white and pale green part only)
5 cups chicken broth (or a cup or two more if it's not enough)
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 15 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes with puree
1 tablespoon salt (add more as needed for taste)
1 tablespoon pepper (add more as needed for taste)
1 cup prepared al dente pasta (elbow macaroni, rigatoni, or any tubular pasta)
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or one tablespoon dried
grated parmesan/reggiano cheese

I made this in a Pressure Cooker, as I seem to be making all my soups in recently. To cook it traditionally, follow the instructions but cook at low heat for 90 minutes in a large heavy saucepan or dutch oven until vegetables are tender. The balance of the instructions are the same.

Heat pot or cooker over medium heat and add olive oil.  Saute onion and leeks until onions "sweat" and become translucent and add garlic and saute for three minutes more. Add broth, oregano, basil can of diced tomatoes salt and pepper, and meatballs. If broth doesn't cover the contents by at least an inch, add more chicken broth or plain water. Turn heat to medium high (on Pressure Cooker) cover, and watch until it begins to steam constantly. Immediately turn heat down to medium low, and let cook under pressure for 12 minutes. (15 p.s.i. if adjustable)

Carefully place pressure cooker in sink and run a stream of cold water over it until it pressurizes. Place back on stove, remove cover, and gently stir. (don't break up meatballs) Immediately add the cooked pasta, spinach and dill. Stir a bit until spinach completely wilts, and dill is incorporated. Slowly season to taste with salt and pepper. What I mean is, do a little of each, stir, let soak in, and then taste again before adding more. It's so easy to oversalt. I've done it more than a few times, and should know better.

Let steep for 10 - 15 minutes.

Ladle into bowls with one or two meatballs, sprinkle with parmesan/reggiano and enjoy!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Country Ham Story

So I love ham. For years I have bought hams from Dakin Farms. Here's the link. They have the best ham, corncob smoked, maple glazed that I've ever had.  My kids have endured eating it for years with my potato dish, called Potatoes Grande.... And I say "endured" because I find the plates have always been empty, ya know?

And since I'm a blogger, I constantly read things on the net about food.  And I came across this:     

And I loved it. And yes, bought a smoked country ham from:

I'll be having a post or two upcoming about my experience with this hunk of meat.

But please watch the video, I't's so down home Country I can't even explain it.

But now that you've watched it, don't you want a slow cured, slow smoked, Country Ham yourself?

Just sayin'

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lemony Curried Chicken and Rice soup with Mint and Dill Accents

I had to sit home for a few days recovering from Dental Surgery. When I was finally able to get up and around, I tried to catch up on my recipes and what I should probably make. Being in quite a bit of pain, soup sounded good, in fact, chicken and rice soup sounded divine, so I decided to make some. I have already posted one recipe for Chicken and Rice Soup but I wanted to try something a bit different. And lo and behold I came across a Food Network recipe for Curried Chicken and Rice Soup. I adapted it a good deal, using a Pressure Cooker and I made my own Chicken Broth.

As I read the recipe I became more and more intrigued by the ingredients. In addition to the curry powder, it called for dill, and also for fresh mint leaves and fresh lemon juice!  Are you kidding me?  I HAD to make it.

Now, the verdict is in. This is an absolutely delicious soup. Full of flavor, and yet pulls you one way and the other as you eat it. Ever had a soup that is "fun to eat"?    THIS soup is fun to eat.  Please try it and let me know what you think.

Ingredients and Method:

1 bone-in chicken breast (Unless you made Chicken Broth, then use the chicken from that)
2 tablespoons butter plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, finely diced
2 carrots, washed and sliced
2 celery stalks, washed and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup rice
3 tablespoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 lemon, quartered
Additional salt and pepper to taste

I used a Pressure Cooker to make this soup, but if you don't have one, just use a heavy pot, or dutch oven on stove top and simmer for 90 minutes until vegetables are soft after the saute step. If using a chicken breast, cook with the soup in either method, and then cool and shred and return to soup.

Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat in Pressure Cooker (or pot of your choice). Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute for 10 - 15 minutes until onions are translucent. Add curry, salt, sugar, bay leaf, chicken broth and chicken of your choice and rice to vegetable mix. Stir well.

 Turn heat to medium high, cover and monitor until it becomes fully pressurized (approx. 15 psi). When it begins to steam constantly, turn down to medium low and let steam for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove and cool down by pouring cold water from faucet over Cooker. Remove cover, stir and add mint and dill and let steep in the soup for 20 minutes. (If you made it a conventional pot, do the same, turn off heat and let the spices steep). Note: We don't cook the spices in the soup because they will get "worn out". We want them bright and fragrant when we serve.

Slightly salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls, with the lemon wedge. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into soup, and, as usual, enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread

This is an easy delicious rustic bread that doesn't need rising or double kneading. Hot fresh bread in a jiffy.

Here's a bit of history on Irish Soda Bread:

In the early and mid 1800’s, rural Ireland did not have a strong tradition of yeast bread making. Baking was done in the home and, in addition to having limited supplies, time was often at a premium. The use of baking soda as a leavening agent was quick, effective and it produced a much more consistent result than yeast did. It caught on quickly and made a staple of the Irish diet until commercial bread production began in earnest, though it is still popular in Ireland and many other parts of the world.
The original soda breads contained nothing more than flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. The buttermilk was leftover from the butter making process and the bread was almost always served with freshly churned butter. Today, the breads often contain additional ingredients, like sugar, butter, currants or caraway seeds to enhance the flavor of the bread. Soda bread is heartier than most yeast breads and pairs very well with soups, stews and meat dishes. It also makes outstanding toast.


4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
5 tablespoons of butter
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup currants

In a bowl blend together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.

Using a pastry cutter cut in the butter until it is incorporated into the dry mixture.

Add the egg (slightly beaten) and buttermilk and mix well until a sticky dough forms. Fold in currants.

Spoon out onto a lightly floured board, sprinkle a little flour over the top of it and knead it twice. Yes, I said ONLY twice.

Than, shape into a ball, cut an X across the top of the loaf and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. This bread will LOOK done way before it is. Bake even longer if necessary
if when tapping on the loaf it doesn't sound completely hollow.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Pressure Cooker Chicken Broth

I have never made homemade Chicken Broth but always wanted to. Yet it always seemed such a hassle
until I started cooking with a Pressure Cooker and realized how quick and easy it would be. And now that I've made it, I suspect I'll make it from now on. It freezes wonderfully and makes all the difference in the soups I'm making.

Again, if you don't have a pressure cooker, just follow the instructions but place all ingredients in a heavy pot, or Dutch Oven and simmer for two hours. (It'll foam, so you'll want to skim that off at the end)

The best way to go about this I think is to ask you something. Do you serve whole chicken?  Homemade or bought at Costco, or Sam's or Safeway?   Perfect!  Use up all the meat, and save the carcass in the refrigerator. When you're ready to whip up some chicken broth, just do the following.

Ingredients and Method:

1 large sweet onion, peeled and quartered
2 stalks celery, washed and coarsely chopped
2 carrots, washed and coarsely chopped
10 cloves garlic
10 whole peppercorns
4 quarts water (check your pressure cooker for it's fill line)
1 teaspoon salt
1 chicken carcass

Add all ingredients to Cooker.

You could use cheesecloth to tie up the vegetables and spices and make it easier to strain, but
you're gonna have to remove all the chicken bones anyway, so I don't mess with it.

Cover and bring up to pressure. When it begins to steam constantly, turn the heat down to medium low
and let cook for 30 minutes in the Pressure Cooker.

Remove from heat and let cool down slowly. Do not use the "cold-water" method to arrest the cooking.

When it's safe, remove cover, and strain ingredients from broth. Now here's a hint, there will be enough chicken left on the carcass to make soup with, and I wouldn't waste it. Throw out all the bones, and spices and vegetables, but save the chicken pieces for soup. It's cooked already, flavorful, and ready to go. Just refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Pour the broth into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill overnight. The following day, remove and skim off all the fat. Divide and freeze into two containers, unless you are using one right away.

A note: I say divide into two bowls, because although it may not be enough broth for a soup, you can add some water with no loss of quality, or even canned broth. This way, your homemade product will last twice as long.


And watch for my two upcoming soup recipes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Baked Yeast Donuts

So I bought this doughnut baking pan as I previously posted. I made cake doughnuts and I thought they were surprisingly good. See here.

But, as we all know, yeast doughnuts are killer also. So I thought I'd use the pan with yeast dough.

I must give huge credit to 101 Recipes for this. This was the recipe I modified a bit, but for the most part
it was perfect.  

Wow, they were good.  Extremely good. I mean "melt in your mouth good"  Light and airy, and no grease.    And easy. And I must admit, it's nice not to mess with hot oil, and thermometers and all the mess cooking that way entails.

So give these a try. Actually I don't believe you need a donut pan to make them. Give it a shot, just use normal baking pans.

Ingredients and Method:

1 1/3 cups milk, warmed, not hot
2/3 cup sugar
1 packet dry yeast
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
5 cups flour (more or less)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a mixer, combine the warmed milk, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 15 minutes to let it proof. It should
get foamy which means the yeast is good and ready to go. (I know, I know, yeasts today don't need to be proofed, but I'm old school, I like seeing that stuff get all bubbly)  Melt the butter, and when cool a bit,  two eggs and mix briskly. Add to milk and yeast mixture. Add salt and nutmeg and mix thoroughly.

Add four cups of flour and mix. Continue mixing and adding balance of flour in 1/4 cup increments until the dough adheres to the mixer in a ball and is not sticking to the bowl.

Drop dough onto a lightly floured board, knead just a few times, and shape into a ball. Place in oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and add to oven you heated briefly at 200 degrees (and then turned off, of course) and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Remove from oven and scrape dough out onto floured board. (Lightly floured)  Punch down and let rest
for 5 minutes.  Knead two or three times just to bring it together and roll out into a rectangle about 1 inch in thickness.

Use a doughnut cutter and cut them out. Arrange the doughnut shapes around a lightly greased doughnut pan. ( Or, just onto parchment covered baking sheet)

Continue cutting, save doughnut holes onto another baking sheet. Cover with towel (either method) and let
rise at room temperature for 45 minutes.

(When I cut mine out, I got lazy and cut out some squares of the dough and baked those too. And actually, they were delicious. I didn't coat them, just ate slightly heated with some jam, kind of like a jelly donut)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 8 - to minutes until golden brown. Watch them carefully, they can get overdone quickly. Golden Brown is perfect!

Remove, let cool slightly, and then shake in a plastic bag with sugar, or sugar and cinnamon. You can dip them in melted butter first, if you would like. (My preference)

And don't forget the donut "squares" I made. Those were delicious also, as well as the holes.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Bewley's Tuscan Tomato and Bean Soup

 I know the photo doesn't look like much, but trust me, this soup will make you famous.... I live in Seattle, Washington and have begun frequenting an Irish Pub in West Seattle called A Terrible Beauty.  I really enjoy it there, the staff is very friendly and attentive, and the food is really very good. No argument there.

But, let's assume you work there. No matter how good the food is, you can get tired of the same menu choices over and over after a while.

Since I like to cook and have to service this blog with a post every once in a while, I've started to occasionally bring them in something different to try.

One week I brought in my Potato Chips, and another time my Chicken and Rice Soup.  

This time, I decided to go with an Irish dish adapted from Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe Tuscan Tomato and Bean Soup from Dublin, Ireland. I daresay it came out well and was consumed by the staff rather quickly.

And although I am certainly a meat eater, this is a wonderful vegetarian soup also.

I might also add, I scarfed a few bowls at home, myself. And, once again, I made it in the Pressure Cooker in only 15 minutes!

Give it a try.

Ingredients and Method: 

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, washed and diced
3 carrots diced
1or 2 large diced fennel bulb(s) (Video on how to prepare a fennel bulb)
1 28-oz can Marzano crushed or diced tomatoes with puree
4 fresh plum tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 quarts vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste (Cook first then season, it will take quite a bit of each but test after each addition)
2  15 oz cans Cannelloni Beans (white Italian kidney beans), rinsed and drained. (Get that scum off them ha ha)

Now, throw that olive oil in the bottom of that pressure cooker, and turn the heat up to medium....  (If you're doing this in a traditional pot or dutch oven, just do everything the same, except, cook it for like 3 hours, until all the vegetables are very tender.)  Otherwise, exactly the same...

Saute, the potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, and fennel, until the onions wilt.... 10 minutes, stir 'em up occasionally....

Now, here's the cool part. Well, Cool Part No. 1.  Dump everything else into the pot except the beans.... Yeah, just do it....  I love this recipe and I love a Pressure Cooker....That's it below.... just heap it in...

Now stir a few times, turn the heat up high, put on the Pressure Cooker cover and valve....and wait until that sucker starts steamin'...... Turn the heat down to low, and let it steam for 15 minutes....  (Or stir and wait three, hours, I'm jus' sayin'.... ha ha, love you slow cookers, I'm one myself)

After 15 minutes, remove, and place under faucet and do the quick cool down with cold water over the top....

Don't get it in the vents, of course....  Now.....  open carefully.... return to mild heat on the stove...

Add the Beans, (remember them?)  And stir gently and heat a bit for ten minutes....

And then get your Immersion Blender. (Here's the second cool part)   (Don't have one?  What's wrong with you?  ha ha....  Anyway then,, move hot liquid from pot to bowl and puree about half and pour it back in.  (Apparently I have a Pressure Cooker bias, I do. you have to try it.)

Take your Immersion Blender, and be careful now, you want to leave about half the soup with bite, and vegetables, and onion, and delicious fennel, yet you also want a firm and delicious background to the beans....with vegetables.... If you pulse too long..... (just a thought) it'll pulverize the soup and you'll have no vegetables and beans, ya know?

So, it's easy.  Put that sucker in the hot pot of soup, way down, and pulse it like six quick times. Stop, and check, and eat, and salt and pepper, and if it's not how you want, pulse 3 more times.....  You're done...!

And not to totally horrify my vegetarian friends, but you could cut up some boiled Kielbasa, and heat it up there too, ya know what I mean?   :)


Stir, and salt and pepper some more, you want it just right.

And spoon some into a bowl, with a dollop of sour cream, or, as I did last night, I heated the soup with a slice of Tillamook Sharp Cheddar....  delicious....

Thank you Ireland....

p.s. Joni, thanks for the kind words. You should post them as a comment. You might be my new Food Critic, ya know?

Let me know what you think. Soup with Fennel is cool. There's a sentence I thought I'd never say.