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Thursday, December 6, 2012

My New Kitchen

Remember this matchbox?

New apartment = New kitchen! Much bigger...


Imitation Crab Cakes

So rich and decadent, you won't believe it's made with the cheap stuff. Be warned, these are the kind that fall apart like a good Maryland crab cake should. Makes 4 regular size cakes, or try miniature for a fun party snack! :)

1 8oz package imitation crabmeat
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Old Bay or cajun seasoning
8 Ritz crackers, crushed into crumbs
2 Tbsp butter

In a bowl, shred the crabmeat with your hands. You don't want to pulverize it but you want it to be easy to work with. Add the mayo, seasoning, and half of the cracker crumbs. Fold mixture together until it holds. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In a skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Form crab mixture into 4 patties. Carefully coat with remaining cracker crumbs, and fry for 4-5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve with a lemon wedge.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Eggless Cranberry Coffee Cake

This is a great way to use that leftover cranberry sauce. Eggs always seem to be the first thing I run out of around here! This recipe contains no eggs, and after sharing it with 5 of my dear friends, it was given rave reviews. I'm also happy to report that if you're out of milk, water works just fine.

1 stick butter or margerine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk or water
A capful of vinegar
1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce

1/2 stick cold butter or margerine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350.
Cream butter and sugar, then combine with remaining cake batter ingredients except for cranberries. Pour batter into a large greased springform pan or pyrex dish.
Using a spoon, drop small dollops of cranberry sauce onto the surface of the batter, 1-2 inches apart. Use the spoon to marble and swirl the cranberries evenly into the batter, making distinct stripes.
To make the topping, combine sugar and flour in a bowl. Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter or your hands. You want the crumbs to be big, bigger than a pinhead smaller than a marble. I overworked the topping, which is why my top is flattish and not crumbly. Still tastes good though. ;)
Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cakey part comes out clean. Let cool for at least 1 hour.

Optional: Drizzle on a simple white icing after it has cooled.

Overnight method: You can assemble the entire cake the night before, cover and refrigerate it, and bake it in the morning.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Cheddar Brats

This isn't really a recipe, more of an assembly guide. Or something. Whatever it is, it's really tasty and fun at parties. Makes 24.

1 package precooked cheddar bratwursts (6 pack)
12 strips raw bacon
24 toothpicks

Preheat oven to 400.
Cut each of the 6 brats into 4 pieces, and cut each bacon strip in half. Wrap each half bacon strip around each brat piece and secure with a toothpick. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake for 7-10 minutes, flip, and bake for 5-8 more minutes or until bacon is crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Eggless Pancakes

Out of eggs? Allergic? Just don't like 'em? You won't miss them in this recipe for perfectly fluffy pancakes with no eggs. Serves 2 hungry people.

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup melted butter
Dash of cinnamon, optional

Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. If it's too thick, add water. Heat your pan or griddle on medium and add a tiny bit of butter to prevent sticking. Make pancakes by pouring batter into pan 1/4 cup at a time. Flip when the edges start to firm up and you see bubbles popping on the surface, about 45-60 seconds. Cook the other side for another 45-60 seconds, until golden brown. Serve with your favorite toppings and a hot cup of coffee.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easy Egg Nog

No cooking*, no egg separating, no problem. This nog packs a punch; if you don't like it strong, just cut back on the liquor. :)

1 can evaporated milk
1 empty milk can's worth of water
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup brandy (or rum, or bourbon...)

In a bowl, combine milk, water, sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium. With your free hand, add eggs one at a time, then slowly add brandy. Serve cold and top with additional nutmeg, if desired.

*I've been making this for a long time, and I've never had a problem. First of all, the sheer amount of alcohol involved will 'cook' the eggs and virtually eliminate any chance of you getting salmonella. Secondly, with less than 1,000 cases of salmonella caused by raw eggs in the U.S. every year, I'd say the odds are in your favor. Still, as a disclaimer, I should advise against this nog for elderly folks and pregnant women (pregnant women shouldn't be drinking anyway!).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Craving Brownies

Small batch, simple ingredients, no fuss; perfect for when you're craving brownies. Very rich and chocolatey. Makes 2 large, 4 medium, or 8 small brownies.

2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chunks or chips, optional
1/3 cup walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, stir sugar, egg, and oil until well combined. Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and desired additions. Stir until smooth and pour into a greased bread loaf pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set. It is not necessary for a toothpick to come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

BTW, I recently got a hot tip from a friend. You know that vegetable oil you used to fry chicken, then saved? If you've ever been afraid to use it for baking brownies or cakes, don't be. It adds a slightly salty richness that can't be beat.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Microwave Sloppy Joe Sauce

Quick and simple. You can whip this up in the microwave, or just add the ingredients straight into your 1lb of cooked and drained ground beef, turkey, or chicken and simmer for a few. Serve on hamburger buns, or my favorite, spoon directly over cooked spaghetti. Serves 4.

1 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp mustard
1 tsp Worchestire sauce
1 tsp salt
Salt / Pepper / Sugar to taste

Place butter, garlic, and onion into a microwave safe bowl. Cook on high for 30 seconds or until butter is melted. Stir, and microwave for 30 more seconds. Add remaining ingredients. Cover loosely to avoid a mess and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir, and season to taste.
To serve, combine sauce with 1lb cooked ground beef, chicken, or turkey and enjoy hot on buns or over pasta. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pantry Cleaning BBQ Chicken Pizza

Simple and delicious BBQ chicken pizza using things you already have. Makes approx. 1 10" pizza.

1/2 cup water between 80-105 degrees
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting

1 6oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper

6oz cooked and shredded chicken (to shred, boil for 30 minutes in water spiked with garlic salt, let cool, and shred by hand.)
1/4 cup of your barbecue sauce
4oz shredded cheese (I enjoy sharp cheddar for BBQ)
Assorted toppings of choice (onion, green pepper, garlic, cilantro, etc.)

To make crust, stir sugar and yeast into water. Let sit for 5 minutes, until foamy.
In a bowl, combine flour and salt. Add olive oil and yeast mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula until ingredients hold together and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for 7-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Let rise in a covered oiled bowl for 1 hour. After it has doubled in size, punch it down and let it rest for 5 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine ingredients in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until heated through. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine shredded chicken with 1/4 cup of your barbecue sauce.

Preheat oven to 425 and sprinkle a cookie sheet with cornmeal. Stretch dough into a flat circle; pinch the edges and carefully rotate in one direction until it becomes a flat circle.

Place crust on cookie sheet. Poke several fork holes in it, then add the sauce. (you probably won't use all of it.) Add half the cheese, then the chicken, then the rest of the cheese, then the veggies.

Bake in the preheated oven for 14-16 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fried Mac and Cheese!

I always make too much mac and cheese! Here's a fun way to use up the leftovers. Makes 8 little rounds.

2 cups cold leftover macaroni and cheese
1/2 cup milk (or gravy...)*
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp seasoning salt
Oil for frying

Divide the macaroni and cheese into 8 portions and pack into balls. Place on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer for 20 minutes.
In a bowl, combine flour and seasoning salt. Get your oil good and hot; it's ready when a tiny sprinkle of flour sizzles. There should be enough to submerge the mac balls.
Remove mac balls from the freezer. Coat each one in milk, then flour mixture. Deep fry for 3-5 minutes, turning as needed, until crispy and golden brown. Remove and place on a rack draped with a paper towel. Cool for a couple minutes.

*You should know that I didn't dip these in milk. I had some leftover gravy that I used instead. It was awesome. So if you have leftover gravy, you can use it instead of milk. This is...not a low-calorie food. ;)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mac and Cheese - Revisited

This is the real deal - basic homestyle mac and cheese. Serves 4.

2 cups uncooked macaroni
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
A dash of cayenne pepper
A dash of nutmeg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or your own blend (I used 1/2 Wisconsin sharp cheddar and 1/2 mozzarella)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375.
Cook the macaroni until it's almost done, but not quite. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour and cook until starting to brown, 3-5 minutes.
Stir in milk, cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook until thick, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Turn off heat and add 2/3 cup of cheese, stir until melted. Season to taste and stir in macaroni.
Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Pour in macaroni and top with remaining cheese. Combine bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over top.
Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

Make your own bread crumbs!
Tear some old bread up into tiny pieces and spread it out on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven at 300 for 30-40 minutes. Remove and crumble OR crush with a rolling pin. Add a little Italian seasoning if desired.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chipotle Chicken and Black Bean Wet Burritos

Gooey comfort food with a rich chipotle sauce. Don't be afraid of the molasses, it cuts the acidity of the tomato paste and makes the chipotle flavor pop! Makes 4 burritos.

1 6oz can tomato paste
2 cups water
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chipotle pepper sauce
1 tsp molasses
2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A few Tbsp of your sauce, plus a few extra drops of chipotle pepper sauce if desired
8 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion

4 burrito size flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

In a saucepan, combine the tomato paste, water, cumin, pepper sauce, molasses, and garlic salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer.
In a separate dish, mix together flour and cold water until lumps disappear. Add mixture to sauce and stir until combined. Then, stir in butter until melted. Cover, and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add 4-5 Tbsp of your sauce, then add chicken, beans, and onion. Stir with a fork or tongs until evenly distributed with sauce and heated through.

Heat 1 tortilla in the microwave for about 10 seconds to warm. Place 1/4 of the chicken filling in the tortilla and roll into a burrito. Smother with 1/4 of your sauce, and top with 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve hot and enjoy!

Tip: To shred chicken, boil the breast for 1/2 hour in water with a few shakes of garlic salt. Let cool, and shred by hand. You can use forks, but I think using hands is easier.

What is chipotle pepper sauce?
These are what I use:
Your local Mexican grocery probably has an entire aisle dedicated to hot sauce. These are my 2 favorite chipotle sauces, the one on the left is sweeter. They mix well with things like ranch dressing and mayonnaise for a twist on the classic condiments.

If you can't find those, the good people at Tabasco have a chipotle pepper sauce of their own, available at most grocery stores.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pantry Cleaning Fish Sandwiches

It's not your everyday tuna sandwich! Makes 4 sandwiches.

2 cans tuna, drained
2 eggs
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
Oil for frying

Tartar sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp finely chopped pickles

4 hamburger buns

(pictured: homemade buns! To make homemade buns, follow July's 'Italian Bread' recipe, but divide dough into 8 pieces and brush with egg wash.)

To make tartar sauce, combine all ingredients. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
To make patties, combine all ingredients except oil and shape into 4 patties. Pan fry in 1/2 inch of hot oil until heated through and brown on both sides. Drain on a paper towel draped over a wire rack.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Caramel Lover's Cupcakes

....With white chocolate frosting.
Today, I was approached by a coworker and asked if I could make her some cupcakes for her boyfriend's birthday. 'What kind?' I asked. 'Oh, I don't know, he loves caramel, he likes white chocolate...I'll pay you!'
So, this is what I did. This is my first sale. I am excited. :)
Makes 12 cupcakes.

The Cupcakes:
(I can't take credit for this. This is straight out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.)
1 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

The Caramel:
1/4 c butter
1/3 c brown sugar
2 tsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

The White Chocolate Frosting:
2 c powdered sugar
2oz white chocolate
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp crisco
1-2 Tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 375.
Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. Add milk, butter and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add egg, beat for 2 more minutes.
Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling each half full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

These will need to cool completely. So, in the meantime...

Caramel: Mix butter, brown sugar, water, and salt in a nonstick skillet. Bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
It might look separated, lumpy, and gross. DON'T PANIC. All this will be remedied when you...
Remove from heat and add the evaporated milk and vanilla. Work quickly and stir vigorously! It should become, well, caramel. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes.

While the caramel is cooling...

Frosting: Place powdered sugar in a bowl. Microwave white chocolate, butter/crisco, and water until melted. Stir until smooth. Add to powdered sugar and mix with an electric mixer until fluffy. Set aside.

Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke a hole 3/4 of the way down into the center of each cupcake.
Fill each hole with...CARAMEL! Caramel center, people. Yes.
Scrape frosting into a ziplock bag, snip a hole in the end, and pipe onto each cake.
Do the same with the caramel; make a nice design or just glob it on there.

E N J O Y : )

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Brown Bread

4 key components used sparingly give this bread a mild yet distinct flavor: Molasses, brown sugar, wheat flour, and dark beer. Great with butter and a hearty stew.

1/2 cup water between 85-105 degrees
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark beer
Flour for kneading

Dissolve sugar and molasses in warm water. Stir in yeast and allow to proof for 5 minutes.
In a bowl, combine flours and salt. Add beer, oil, and yeast mixture. Stir until ingredients hold together, then turn out onto a floured surface and let rest for 5 minutes.
Knead for 7-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, until smooth and elastic. Let rise in an oiled bowl for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425. Place a pan of water at the bottom of the oven and preheat your pizza stone or upside-down cookie sheet.
Sprinkle some cornmeal on a piece of foil or pizza paddle. Turn risen dough out onto this surface; try to maintain the round shape. Make an "X" incision, sprinkle with flour, and allow to rise under a towel for 30 minutes while the oven heats up.
Slide dough onto your pizza stone or cookie sheet, bake for 30 minutes.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hasselback Potatoes

Basically, it's a fancier baked potato. You have artistic license though; stuff those slices with anything you like! I used thinly sliced garlic and thyme.

Olive oil
Additions of choice; garlic, spices, meats, cheeses, use your imagination.

Preheat oven to 425.
Slice the potato by laying it in a wooden spoon and making close horizontal cuts, as pictured above, not cutting all the way through. If desired, insert fillings into slices. Rub outside generously with olive oil and top with salt. Bake for 1 hour or until tops are crispy and inside is cooked through.

Pantry Cleaning Meatballs

This one is both budget and kid friendly. Serves 4. You can use any, and I mean ANY kind of cheese. I used Velveeta. ;)

6oz tomato paste
2 cups water
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 beef boullion cubes
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 an onion, chopped
1/2 a green pepper, chopped
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
A splash of wine, optional

1 lb ground beef or turkey
2 eggs
3 slices white or wheat bread
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 oz cheese
1 Tbsp oil for browning

To make sauce, combine ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

To make meatballs, begin by toasting the bread in the oven at 250 degrees for 30 minutes. It should end up mostly crumbly with a few moist scraps left. Crumble bread and combine with egg, cheese, turkey, and seasonings.

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Heat oil in a skillet. Divide turkey mixture into 12 balls, bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball. Place meatballs into skillet and brown the outsides. You may have to divide them into separate groups of 4 or 6.
Place browned meatballs into prepared baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over top and cover with foil. Bake covered for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for 30 more minutes.
Serve over pasta, make a meatball sub, or just grab a fork and dig in. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cornbread Dressing

There's no one right way to make dressing. This is my recipe, a simple cornbread dressing using things we generally have lying around. This is a little drier; it's the sort of dressing you'd love to put gravy on. For a more moist product, increase your chicken broth.

4 slices cornbread
2 slices white or wheat bread
1/2 an onion
2 stalks of celery
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp rubbed sage
1 tsp black pepper

Loosely crumble cornbread and tear white/wheat bread into small pieces. Place bread pieces on a cookie sheet and dry in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour.
Preheat oven to 375.
Chop onion and celery. In a bowl, combine bread, onion, celery, and beaten egg. Spoon into a greased 8x8 baking dish.
Microwave broth with butter, sage, and pepper for a minute or two. Stir to melt butter and hydrate spices, then pour over your bread mixture.
Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Potato Bread

I know, we're turning into a bread-blog! This is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

1/2 cup water between 80-105 degrees
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp yeast
2 cups flour
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Dissolve sugar in water and add yeast. Allow to proof for 5 minutes.
Combine flour, salt, oil, and potatoes in a bowl. Add yeast mixture. Stir ingredients until they hold together, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead and work in more flour until smooth and elastic, 10 minutes. Watch out, potato bread dough is extra sticky. Let your dough ball rise in an oiled bowl for 1 hour.
Once dough has risen, transfer to a greased and floured loaf pan. Let rise for another 45-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400. Dust bread with flour, and bake for 45 minutes. 
Potato bread. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012


This is a basic recipe adapted for what I have on hand. I rarely have milk, so for certain things, water and a little powdered coffee creamer will do. Makes 8 good sized servings.

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk (or water + 1 Tbsp powdered coffee creamer)
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
A splash of vinegar

Preheat oven to 400. Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix well. Pour batter into a greased pan* and bake for 30-40 minutes.

*Cake pan, pie pan, loaf pan, or 8x8 baking dish will all do nicely. Adjust cooking time by batter depth; a loaf pan will take longer than an 8x8. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Make Homemade Bread

10. Honor your heritage! No matter where you come from, your ancestors made bread the old fashioned way.
9. It's fun! At least, I think it's fun. ;)
8. It's easy! It requires very few ingredients and little technical skill.
7. It's cheaper than storebought! If you buy your ingredients in bulk, you will be eating fresh bread for pennies on the dollar.
6. The smell! Fresh bread smells amazing.
5. Impress your friends! When people find out about your baking abilities, they'll be saying "wow, I wish I could do that!"
4. Relieve stress! Kneading dough is very therapeutic.
3. Feel a sense of accomplishment! Baking is a skill, and perfecting it is an art. Be proud!
2. It's versatile! Once you master basic bread, you can use it for anything bread-related: Pizza, sandwiches, calzones, dinner rolls, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, the sky is the limit.
1. Why not! You learned how to bake fresh bread; cross it off your list.

Find my recipe here!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Carrot Raisin Slaw

Look what hubby brought home! It's a million baby carrots!! :)
So, we'll be using some carrots in the near future.
I used to work at a cafeteria style restaurant, and one of my favorite things there was the sweet carrot raisin slaw. It is ridiculously easy to make, too. This serves 4.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup raisins (I used golden)
2 cups shredded carrots

Combine mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir carrots and raisins into dressing. Cover and chill for at least an hour before enjoying.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Flour Tortillas

I've seen flour tortillas run $2 or more at the grocery store! Save money by making your own. Tip: If you're getting store bought tortillas, they're much cheaper at your local Mexican grocer. I frequent mine all the time. The staff is very helpful and friendly, and their exotic variety of produce and herbs are fresh and less 'messed with' than the produce at chain grocery stores.

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 good sized handful of Crisco
1/2 cup hot water

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Add Crisco and combine with your hands until the mixture looks like cornmeal. Add the hot water and stir until ingredients hold together. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, working in flour as needed. There will be tears and cracks, the important thing is that it doesn't stick. This will make the rolling out process much easier. Cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Divide your dough into 8 portions for burrito size or 12 for taco size. Create a round ball with each portion. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball out as flat and round as you can. Stack your flattened dough rounds and set aside.
Lightly grease a 10-inch skillet and let it heat up on the stove for a minute or two over medium heat. One by one, cook the tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side. Once you see a few bubbles form, you can flip. I prefer a spatula. If it's not brown enough for you, flip it again.
And it's that simple. :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Herb Focaccia

There are so many wonderful things to do with the basic Italian bread recipe! This focaccia is very versatile; it can be used for sandwiches, or served alongside soups and pastas.

For dough - follow directions in the Italian bread recipe up until after the first rise.

For herb topping:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Heat oil on the microwave for 10 or 15 seconds, then add herbs and let steep for an hour.

Take your risen dough and spread it out flat on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for another 40-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450.
After the dough has risen again, poke holes in it with your finger or the handle of a wooden spoon. The holes should be an inch or two apart. Brush your herb oil on top of the bread, coating thoroughly. Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Italian Bread

This is basically the same recipe we used for the pizza dough and breadsticks. For the bread, we will provide a step-by-step photo tutorial, complete with a video about kneading dough. (It's pretty much 7 minutes of me kneading dough. But if you want to see what the process looks like, give it a watch!)

1 cup water between 80-105 degrees
1/2 tsp suagr
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (2 heaping teaspoons)
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Cornmeal for dusting
Water in a mister bottle

(Pictured - Flour and salt mixture, olive oil, and nicely bloomed yeast.)

Mix water and sugar, add yeast and stir. Let that sit for 5 minutes, until it's foamy like the head of a beer. 
In a bowl, combine flour and salt. Add olive oil and the yeast mixture. Combine the ingredients with your hands until they hold together; allow the mixture to rest and hydrate for 5 minutes.

Turn the dough mixture out onto a floured surface. Knead for 7-10 minutes, working in no more than 1/2 cup of flour while kneading. Your result should be smooth and elastic, and it shouldn't stick to your hands or your work surface. To see how it's done, watch my video:

Clean the bowl you used to mix the ingredients, and coat it with some olive oil or cooking spray. You want enough to coat the sides of the bowl and your dough ball. Put your dough in the bowl, grease it up, and cover with a dish towel moistened with hot tap water. If your oven has a light, turn it on. If your oven doesn't have a light, turn the oven on high for 20 seconds, then turn it right back off. Place the bowl in the oven and shut the door, let it rise for 1 hour. Once it has doubled in size, punch it down and let it rest for 5 minutes. Punching down is exactly what it sounds like.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and roll into footlong logs. Place them on an upside-down cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal (if you have a pizza stone, by all means use it.) Cover with a dishtowel and let rise for another hour.
Place a pan of water in the bottom of your oven and preheat to 450. Allow the oven to heat up for at least 10 minutes.
Score the bread 4-6 times diagonally, or one long cut lengthwise, with a sharp knife.
EDIT: If you can, let the pan heat up in the oven and slide your loaf onto it when you're ready to bake.

Spritz the loaves with water, then quickly get them into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Your end result will be lovely...Crisp and crusty outside, tender and flavorful inside. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pepperoni Breadsticks

There was a little Italian place on the strip mall near my high school. Everyone who was anyone went there and got the pepperoni breadsticks! I've recreated this classic favorite for the home cook.  This recipe makes 12.

1 cup water, 80-105 degrees
1 tsp sugar
 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups flour
1 tsp garlic salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
36-72 slices pepperoni
2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic salt

Mix sugar and water, stir in yeast. Proof for 5 minutes.
In a bowl, mix flour and salt. Add yeast mixture and olive oil. Combine ingredients with your hands until they hold together, then turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for 7-10 minutes until you have a smooth elastic ball that doesn't stick. Place ball in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled.
Preheat oven to 425 and dust a 9x13 baking dish with cornmeal.
Punch dough down and let rest for a minute or two. Divide dough into 12 portions. With each portion, create a 4x8 inch rectangle. Line with 3-6 pepperoni slices and roll up longways, sealing the edges. Roll it in one direction away from you to tighten, don't roll back-and forth, it'll fall apart. Place your rolls into the baking dish, sides touching. Combine olive oil, parmesan, and garlic salt; brush or spoon over top. Bake at 425 for 25-35 minutes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hamburger Buns

Making burgers today! I could go to the store and pay $1 for a pack of buns, and I won't lie, I do that pretty often. But, if you want a nice homemade burger bun, here's what you do:

1/2 cup water between 80-105 degrees
3 Tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups flour
1/4 cup Crisco
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg for egg wash

Combine the water and sugar; stir in yeast and let proof for 5 minutes.
Put your flour, salt, Crisco, and egg into a bowl. Add yeast mixture and mix with your hands until it comes together. Turn this out onto a floured surface and knead knead knead. It should end up somewhat stiff. Place your dough ball into an oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour.
Once risen, divide into 4-6 portions. Press them somewhat flat with your palm and let those rest for about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375.
Take an egg and mix it with 1 Tbsp water, this is your egg wash. Spoon or brush your egg wash over the buns. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Peek Into My Kitchen

Hello friends! I thought I'd take this opportunity to show you all where the magic happens.

Me, my itty bitty kitchen, and my Pokemon apron. Fun fact, I love Pokemon. :)

My fridge! We're not fancy here, but we do have red and white wine.

The freezer: Mostly leftovers, assorted meats, old bananas, and coffee.

My hot sauce collection. I enjoy hot sauce...
(look closely in the background, the pink/yellow box is Pokemon instant curry sauce.)

My little baby cilantro plant, and the view from my window. Note the dry Indiana grass...Really hoping for rain this weekend!

And there you have it, straight from my humble home. :)