Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No Knead Sweet Potato Rolls

The wonder of No Knead Breads... I swear, they are just fantastic. Sometimes you just don't feel like making a mess of the counter, but you really want to make some bread. This is the perfect solution. It's quick and easy to put together, plus the mess is much less significant. Gotta love No Knead Breads.

This recipe in particular is pretty wonderful. It uses mashed sweet potatoes in the dough which adds such incredible moisture to the bread. Seriously- this bread is so moist that it lasted for at least 5 days! There is no way you would know that the bread is 5 days old. Aside from the moist crumb, the bread also has a very delicious flavor from the sweet potatoes. I actually thought that they would be more sweet so I think next time I might amp the brown sugar to 1/4 cup. That is only because I like things sweet though. You can definitely get by with the 2 Tb brown sugar and have a less sweet roll. I toasted mine and slathered them with butter, they were SO yummy. 

The only complaint I have about this recipe is that it is incredibly sticky. But... I hate being sticky, so it probably annoyed me more than the normal person. Also, I made 18 rolls, not 24, so they were a little bit larger, although the baking time didn't change. Other than that these were sooooo GOOD!

No Knead Sweet Potato Rolls
makes approximately 2 dozen

3/4 cup (6 oz) warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
1 cup (9 oz) mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 Tb dark brown sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cups (20 oz)  all purpose flour

Combine the water and yeast in a large bowl and let stand until yeast has actuated. Add the mashed sweet potatoes, milk, butter, brown sugar, and salt. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add the flour, stirring until a shaggy dough is formed and no more dry flour is visible. This dough will be very sticky. Keep in refrigerator overnight. 

Take bowl out and let the dough come to room temperature (about 2 hours). When ready to shape rolls, sprinkle work surface with flour and turn dough on top. Divide dough into 24 pieces. Shape into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Cover with a lint free cloth or plastic wrap and let double, about 45 minutes. 

About 20 minutes before rolls are finished rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the cover and bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, until they are puffed and toasted brown. Serve warm or room temperature. Store in an airtight container. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rich Breakfast Waffles

Honestly, I don't think waffles get enough credit. Usually pancakes are the feature of the breakfast scene... but really, waffles are just as easy. The thing about waffles is that, yes, you do need an extra appliance hanging around the kitchen for such a rare occasion. Personally I think it's totally worth it. If you're kitchen is as big as a cardboard box I can understand your hesitation though. Obviously I have the room and thus employ the use of the waffle iron as the mood dictates. 

Last Friday, the mood dictated. And thus, there were waffles.

These waffles were different from the usual one's that I make. The batter ended up much thicker. Waffles batter's have a tendency to be thinner than pancake batter. I really think that this batter was thick enough to have made pancakes perfectly and if you don't have a waffle iron, I suggest using this recipe and trying out some pancakes with it. I guarantee they would be awesome.... because these waffles were awesome. They weren't dainty and light, which is nice on occasion, they were buttery and rich in texture. They reminded me of brioche or challah almost. They were excellent honestly. And I think that whenever you make waffles, or pancakes for that matter, you should always separate the eggs and whip the whites. It just makes for a perfect texture- crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. You can definitely make a good waffle or pancake without the technique... it's just that much better. Ughhh just talking about it makes me want to go whip some up right now... 

Rich Buttermilk Waffles

adapted from How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

serves 4 to 6

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk* or 1 1/2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Canola or other neutral oil for brushing on waffle pan 

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix together the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt and the egg yolks. Stir in the butter and vanilla.

Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat it. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites with the whisk or electric mixer (spotlessly clean ones work best) until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter.

Spread a ladleful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

* The buttermilk can be substituted with 1 1/4 cups of milk at room temperature, mixed with two tablespoons white vinegar, left to clabber for 10 minutes.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

This Weeks Delish: May 28, 2011

Unfortunately I don't have much time to go on in today's post. My husband, my baby and I are heading to the beach today for our first family vacation : ) annnnd we're already 1 hr behind schedule haha...

  • Ya know, I have never had dulce de leche.... but these Dulce de Leche Cupcakes sound divine. I'll have to try some of this raved about caramel variation soon.
  • I have been having this thing for ice cream lately. Especially fun flavors. Things other than vanilla.... so this Whiskey and spiced walnut ice cream seems like it would hit the spot. 
  • Um red velvet cake? Yes please. This Red Velvet Cake Roll is such a fun alternative to the regular layer cake!

My Recipe Pick of the Week:

The Mocha Icebox Cake was incredible. So Easy. So Good.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pina-cado Smoothie

Yes, I am still on a smoothie kick... because I am still on wisdom teeth recovery. I actually have a whole handful of smoothie recipe's left to put up haha I know, enough with the smoothies already! Well, since I know how tedious smoothies get after a while I am going to try to spread them out.

Anyways, I am on a huge avocado kick lately. Especially when it comes to using the avocado in sweet dishes. I read the other day on an Asian blog site that the blogger almost suffered culture shock when they saw avocado's in a savory dish for the first time. I guess in other areas of the world avocado's are only used for sweet recipes. Pretty interesting. Well, I love them. They are so buttery and smooth. And I just can not get over their beautiful color! Plus, they are loaded with healthy fats.

So today's smoothie is on the tropical side of things. If you are a fan of pineapple you'll definitely like this. I am actually not a fan of pineapple and I seem to always forget that haha I do the same things with cherry/grape tomatoes... I really want to like them so I keep buying them and putting them into things and then I end up hating what I make- weird. Well, I thought the pineapple was too overwhelming for me since I don't like pineapple- again, dumb, of me. But it was still a delicious smoothie overall. You couldn't taste the avocado at all. It just made for great texture and color. If I had to make this again I would probably just use more banana and no pineapple, but like I said, I don't like pineapple.

And as I always say when it comes to smoothies- I do not add ice. I add greek yogurt : )

Pina-cado Smoothie

1 cup Orange Juice
3/4 cup frozen, chopped pineapple
1/2 avocado
1 banana, chopped and frozen
1/2 cup ice (or 1/4 cup greek yogurt for a creamy smoothie)

Place in blender and process all together until smooth. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Healthy Crustless Quiche Base Recipe

Every once in a while I really have a craving for eggs... and then quiche. Funny because I absolutely never ever make quiche. Obviously I would love to but my husband would never eat it and I don't want to eat a whole quiche by myself. So when I found this recipe I was really excited because it seemed so healthy and easy- and it totally was! My favorite part is that it is completely adaptable. Put whatever kind of veggies you want in it! Or none at all even. Or maybe just a load of crisped bacon. Whatever floats your boat really. As the title suggests, I am giving this recipe to you as a base. I put sauteed mushrooms, spinach and onions in it because I think that that combination is just magical. Do whatever feels right to you. You can even add herbs and spices. I highly recommended spicing it up with some hot sauce or red pepper flakes. You can even change up the cheeses. Go with cheddar if you want simple. Go for some gruyere if you're feeling fancy. Blue cheese if you're crazy.

This recipe is loaded with protein and very little fat other than what comes from the cheese. Do NOT use non fat cottage cheese- gross... come on! Use 1%, no less than that. It ends up nice and creamy, trust me. If you like egg dishes and want to be healthy, go with this recipe. 

Healthy Quiche Base Recipe
adapted slightly from Paula Deen
Print Recipe

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup - 2 cups filling of choice (sauteed veggies/meat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups grated cheese of choice
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Allow fillings to cool once cooked. 

Combine the eggs, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, Parmesan, flour, salt, and pepper, in a medium bowl. Stir together, or blend in food processor until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the filling ingredients. Add the cheese and blend with a spoon until well mixed. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and smooth out the top.
Bake until set, about 45 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven. It will be puffed up, but will fall slightly as it cools. Allow it to cool, then, refrigerate. Cut it into squares and serve.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mocha Ice Box Cake

Oh Man.... this is a fantastic cake. SO fantastic! Seriously, for those of you that have never made an icebox cake before- you need to get on that bandwagon. They are sooooo easy. No baking required (obviously) and you can do it the night before so it is ready for you the next day. And the whole preparation for the cake takes no more than 15 minutes, I promise! The longest part of the whole thing is maybe the assembly and that is only if your OCD like me and want to fill in all the spaces with little pieces of broken cookies. But you don't even have to do that for this cake to be great. This recipe is actually a rift on the classic icebox cake which is made even simpler by using simple vanilla sweetened whipped cream. Also oh-so-incredible. This takes it to a new level and adds mascarpone cheese, as well as chocolate and coffee flavors (thus the mocha). Honestly, I didn't want to spend the money on the mascarpone cheese so I just used cream cheese and it worked just as well. I was worried it wouldn't blend as well into the cream, or it wouldn't be sweet enough because cream cheese has a stronger flavor then mascarpone, but it did work very well. Feel free to splurge and follow the recipe though as is. I also ended up using homemade chocolate wafer cookies. In the original version by Ina Garten she uses thin crisp chocolate chip cookies, but I knew that the basic principles of the icebox cake would work perfectly with chocolate wafers since that is the original method.

Anyways, this cake is very, very easy and super delicious. So why wouldn't you make it? Maybe because you don't want to end up eating it all... like I pretty much did haha oh well! Oh and don't forget what a perfect summer dessert this is- "no bake"! Come on now. Perfect!

Want to make things even easier and just as delicious? Make a Classic Icebox Cake using just sweetened whipped cream. I would say use maybe 3 cups heavy cream, whipped with 1/4 cup sugar and  1 Tb vanilla extract. The sugar can be adjusted to the level of sweetness you prefer and this recipe can be easily halved and assembled in a lined loaf pan. Just another fabulous option for you.

I took an extra cookie I had and crumbled it over the top for a pretty garnish, but you could just as easily use cocoa powder or shaved/grated chocolate.
Or nothing even! Personally I think garnishes are overrated...

Mocha Ice Box Cake
adapted slightly from Ina Garten
Print Recipe

  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup  coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti or Valrhona
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 oz) package chocolate wafer cookies
  • Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish 


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms medium to firm peaks. If you whip them too firm then they won't soften the cookies as well. 

To assemble the cake, arrange cookies along the bottom of an 8" springform pan, filling in spaces by breaking cookies into pieces. Spread 1/3 of cream evenly over cookies then cover with another layer of cookies. Continue layering until you end with remaining cream. You can make up to 5 alternating layers if you like, you will just need more cookies and less cream between layers.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

I didn't have an 8" springform pan either, so I used my 9" springform pan. 
Worked perfectly fine.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chocolate Wafer Cookies (Nabisco Type)

This is the type of cookie that you usually buy at the store and only when you need it to make something else from. Without even thinking about it. You probably don't even know that you can make them homemade. Kind of like Oreo's. You know that you can make homemade Oreo's right? Well, more about that another time. You get the idea though. Nabsico Chocolate Wafer Cookies are pretty hard to find sometimes. I couldn't find them. That's why I made them hehe. Now, you don't run into many occasion's where you need Nabisco Chocolate Wafer Cookies, so you may not even know what they are. Well, if you have ever made an icebox cake- you're familiar. And that is exactly the dilemma that I was placed with. I needed to make an icebox cake... but I had no wafer's.

Guess what? I whipped some up at home. Guess what else? I probably will never bother buying them again.

Plus the extras went perfect with my coffee : )

They were so easy and simple to prepare, it probably takes less effort to make them at home then search three different grocery stores for the Nabisco brand. To make such a paper thin cookie seems daunting, but it is as simple as making a sugar cookie, just rolled super thin. A cinch, I tell you! Especially if you are an avid baker. Plus, these worked super well with my icebox cake. Just perfect. Love it! The only thing that I might do next time is leave out the cinnamon. It's just not necessary. But to each his own.

Oh, by the way, the icebox cake recipe will be posted tomorrow if you're interested in undertaking the task : ) It is well worth the effort. Even if you just buy the cookies for the cake. But seriously- just make them.

Make sure to roll the dough out super thin- about 1/8"

Oh, and as you can see, I forgot to prick the cookies with the tines of a fork to "dock" it. Whooooops... they managed in the oven though : )

Chocolate Wafer Cookies (Nabisco Type)
adapted from Fran Bigelow "Baking from the Heart"
yields: about 3 dozen

12 Tb (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup dark, dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted, plus extra for rolling
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour, plus extra for rolling
3/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and mix for 4 minutes on med-high speed, or until light and fluffy.

Add the cocoa powder and mix on low speed until it is well combined. Scrape the inside of the mixing bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and blend thoroughly; scrape the bowl. Mix together flour and cinnamon and add this to the batter. Mix on low speed until the dough just comes together.

Wrap the dough in pastic and chill for 4 hours or overnight. The dough should be firm.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Working quickly on a surface dusted with equal parts cocoa powder and flour (this ensures a nicely darkened cookie), roll half the dough into a 12 x 12 inch square, approximately 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cutter of choice, cut out circles. With a metal spatula, transfer the circles to the prepared sheets and pierce the cookies several times with the tines of a fork. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Place the sheets on the middle rack of the oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes. The cookies are done when they turn dull and begin to bubble. Cool slightly, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Green Smoothie

I know the concept of this is probably so unappealing to most... but try to be openminded. Sometimes you can sneak things like spinach into meals and you would never know it was there simply by tasting it. This is definitely one of those meals. This green smoothie is just so yummy and has absolutely NO spinach taste. I assure you. And since spinach is such a superfood, who wouldn't want to sneak it into your diet. 

Peanut butter and banana's have such a strong flavor that they completely mask any spinach flavor there might have otherwise been. The added cocoa powder makes it a nice fudgy peanut butter banana smoothie. Really that should be the name of this drink since you can't taste the spinach and it doesn't even end up being a vivid green color. Another surprising thing about this shake is that it doesn't need that much sweetener. I thought 1 tsp sweetener would be way too little, but it wasn't at all. I don't know why either, but it really was simply perfectly sweet. I didn't really question it, I just happily accepted it. I ended up using agave nectar, but you can use honey, stevia or even splenda. Heck, if you're not in it for the health food kick go ahead and use granulated sugar.  

I don't like adding ice into my smoothies. I would rather have them creamy than icy.... so instead a throw in a nice dollop of 0% greek yogurt. Plus the added protein makes for a perfectly balanced meal!

Green Smoothie
Serves 1

2 cups baby spinach (the smallest leaf has the most delicate flavor)
1 Tb peanut butter
1 Tb cocoa powder
1 tsp sugar or sweetener of choice
1 cup milk
1 banana, chopped and frozen

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Look at all the spinach in there! Guess what? You can NOT taste it. I swear.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

This Weeks Delish: May 21, 2011

This Weeks Delish
May 21, 2011

I have certainly had a busy week- I feel like just yesterday it was Monday and already it's Friday! I hate those kind of weeks.... oh well. I did manage to find time to share a few good recipes with you. Again, I apologize in advance for all the recipes that will be posted next week, which will all be conducive to my inability to really chew (wisdom teeth extraction). However, I will do my best to still share some delicious treats with you! Let's see what other's shared this week, shall we?

  • This Whole Wheat Bread (Step by Step) isn't really a recipe so much as it is a tutorial, but I just thought it was fabulous. There was a time when I had no idea how to make a yeast bread and something of this sort would have been incredibly helpful to have had. I basically had to teach myself and it took me quite a lot of trial and error runs to get it right. A lot. Way more than necessary. So, if you need help or are interested in learning about yeast breads, check it out.
  • Yay! Another recipe by the famed "Baked" cookbook authors and bakery owners- Strawberry Whoopie Pies. This wasn't actually in either of their cookbooks, so I am glad that I stumbled upon it on this site. I have never actually made a whoopie pie, but this one looks fantastic! Plus it uses an meringue based filling and I absolutely adore meringue frostings!
  • The season of delicious fruit is upon us! Celebrate with a nice Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp now that everything is at it's peak level of flavor. This recipe looks great because it utilizes a lot of healthy ingredients you wouldn't normally put into a crisp like agave nectar and whole wheat flour. Yummy and healthful!
  • I always forget how much I love orange marmalade till I have some with a scone. Seriously, though I should make more things around orange marmalade, it is just so yummy! These Orange Marmalade Cookies look like they would fit the bill perfectly. Something other than spreading it onto a scone, how ingenious!
  • YES! An easy no bake recipe. I love it. Nothing is better than being able to throw something together easily and then not have to bake it. This No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake looks scrumptious and it can't get any easier, I swear. I am actually planning on making a no bake cake for you next week... although admittedly, it is quite a bit more labor intensive than this one.

My Recipe Pick of the Week:

I vote for the monster cookies. If you are a fan of peanut butter cookies and oatmeal cookies, you'll love these. They have a very serious texture, so moist yet chewy. I like them a lot. As a caution though, don't be smart like me and try and change up the ingredients- just use regular M&Ms...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Carrot Ginger Soup

To help increase my veggie intake while recovering from the whole wisdom teeth thing, I thought a nice thin soup would be perfect! Because smoothies are all well and good, but they are mostly fruit and sooo mostly sugar and I think I generally get plenty of that in my diet to begin with. So why not throw some health in there with some soup! And what a terrific soup this is- carrot ginger. A match made in heaven. I am convinced. Something like peanut butter and chocolate, carrot and ginger are just made for each other. One component totally enhances the flavor of the other. I think it is because both of these ingredients have a natural affinity for sweetness. Carrot cake? Gingerbread? Seriously. These ingredients are begging to be together in this harmoniously delicate soup. There is the slightest bit of sweetness backed by a perfect punch of spice. It's a great soup. Plus! It is easy to boot. Very, very few ingredients. Especially if you don't make the tofu, which isn't an absolutely necessary addition. I just really enjoy tofu, so I fried some up. But honestly, you don't need it. 

Carrot Ginger Soup with Curry Tofu

adapted from Foodnetwork.com


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1-pound bag frozen chopped carrots, thawed
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 2-to-3-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 star anise pod or 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 2 cups carrot juice
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • Torn fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and ginger and cook until the vegetables are just soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the star anise, carrot juice and 3 cups water, then cover and boil until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Mix the cornstarch and curry powder on a shallow plate and season with salt. Pat the tofu dry and roll it in the cornstarch mixture. Heat the remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the tofu and fry, turning, until golden and crisp on all sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
Discard the star anise. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree in batches, or puree directly in the pot with an immersion blender. Thin with water, if needed, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the fried tofu then garnish with cilantro if desired. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blueberry Acai Smoothie

Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting all four of my wisdom teeth extracted- UGH. The whole thing went really well and I feel pretty good. Needless to say, I won't be able to chew on much the next few days, so it's a liquid diet for me! I am kind of bummed about it since I love food so much and now I am very limited as to what I can eat. This does give me a good opportunity to try out some of the new smoothie recipes that I've collected. So be prepared to be faced with a plethora of smoothie and beverage posts for at least a week haha I apologize in advance for that. I try to make my posts as diverse as I can, but this next week, I just don't think I can swing it.

So this is the first thing that I whipped up to eat after my teeth were pulled. Oh boy and was it delicious! I forgot how delicious smoothie's are. Plus it's a very easy, yummy way to bump up nutrition, especially if you're limited in what you can consume, as I am at the moment. Have you heard all the raves that acai berries are getting lately? Well I certainly have and I am all about things that are going to pump me full of antioxidants. That's why I went in the berry direction with this smoothie- simply chocked full of antioxidants. Seriously, between the blueberries, strawberries and acai juice, it's a delight of free radical fighting nutrition! And I was really surprised that it didn't need any added sugar. Usually some fruit smoothies need sweetener because they can be a bit sour, but not this one. It was perfect! And to amp up the protein I plopped in a couple of spoonfuls of 0% Greek yogurt. As with all smoothies it is very versatile. Totally forgiving. Don't have enough blueberries? Add some extra strawberries. Vegan? Use soy milk. Want to really watch your calories? Use almond milk. Any way you work it, this is really a fantastic nutritious and delicious smoothie!

If you're a huge smoothie fan, check out this website. She has an incredible array of recipes!

Blueberry Acai Smoothie
adapted from kblog.lunchboxbunch.com
Serves 2

1 cup milk
1 1/2 bananas, chopped and frozen
1 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries
1 cup acai juice
1/2 cup ice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monster Cookies

About a week ago I finally got the "Baked" cookbooks that I have heard so many people rave about. Oh My Goodness! Am I in love? YES. I want to make each and every recipe in these two books. NOW. Ugh, it's so frustrating that I'll have to creep slowly through them since I am the only one that consumes what I bake (sadly it is just me and my husband, and he unfortunately does not like food). So I have actually been mailing some cookies home to offset my own personal intake a bit haha. Anyways, these cookbooks are amazing! If you like to bake and do not have these books yet, I highly recommend investing in them. 

Now on to the first recipe that I have had a chance to make from them- monster cookies! I can't believe I have gone my entire life without ever having a monster cookie... what a fun cookie! For those of you that are unfamiliar, a monster cookie is a morph of the peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. It's also studded with M&Ms.  Now I have had peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies before, but these are just... they're just different! Very little flour is used in comparison to all the ingredients. It is mostly oats that are used for structure. So as a result these cookies are very hearty and nice and chewy. They're best after they have cooled because then they have a chance to set up and the oats soak up the gooeyness and become nice and tender. So try to resist the temptation to scarf one right out of the oven, especially since the recipe tells you to leave the cookies cooling on the pan for 8-10 minutes- way more than the usual 2 minutes. Listen to them. They know what they are doing. And especially listen to them when they say to refrigerate the dough- it is vital. Really though, don't be like me and try to be clever... I thought it would be a good idea to sub the regular M&Ms with pretzel M&Ms because then there would be a fantastic sweet and salty combo. Well, I had never tried the pretzel M&Ms and I certainly had never made this cookies before. So not only did I brake the cardinal rule of always making a recipe as written the first time before making changes, I added an ingredient that I had never tried. Needless to say, I didn't like the results. First of all, the M&Ms were large like peanut M&Ms (which I didn't know- dumb, duh) so each cookie only held like 1 M&M... plus the pretzel part of them wasn't even that salty and pretzel like. They were a total let down. However, the cookies themselves did not let me down! They really were fantastic. Great texture. Great flavor. Just Great.

Monster Cookies
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

1/2 cup flour
1 Tb baking soda
pinch of salt
5 3/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp light corn syrup
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&M's

1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Add the oats and stir until the ingredients are evenly combined.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth and pale in color. Add sugars and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

3. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth (about 20 seconds) and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and beat until just incorporated.

4. Scrape down the bowl and add the peanut butter. Mix on low speed until just combined. Add the oat mixture in three additions, mixing on low speed until just incorporated.

5. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to fold in the chocolate chips and M&M's. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate for 5 hours.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop out dough in 2-tablespoon size balls onto prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies just begin to brown. Let cool on the pans for 8 to 10 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Farmers Bread

This bread is really, really good.


If you're a homemade bread kind of person- you have to make this bread!

I've made a lot of homemade bread and this recipe is definitely at the top of my list. The crumb... oh my goodness, the crumb in this bread is SO delicious! It is so tender and fluffy and soft- Mmmmmmm : ) I love a nice fresh slice of bread. It does require a bit of time since you have to make the starter the night before. I swear it's not hard though. It's a bunch of easy steps over about a day, no different from a lot of other bread recipes. And the shape of the loaf is totally optional. The original recipe has you form it in a parker house roll type shape, but my loaves ended up looking more like mittens haha so if you want to make the loaves as the original recipe dictates be sure to use egg white to brush a seal, not olive oil or water. Also, you can use active dry yeast, just be sure to dissolve it in the warm water first, letting it actuate. Just a heads up too- this dough is very, very sticky. I thought it was going to come out terribly because when I was kneading it, it was just soooo sticky that I had to keep adding flour. Well eventually I said, "enough is enough! any more flour and this dough is going to be tough, I don't care how sticky it is." Some doughs are meant to be sticky, ya know? And my continually adding flour was going to ruin it. So I ended up adding up to maybe an extra 1/4 cup then switched my kneading technique and I think it is going to be my new favorite way for kneading dough. Here is the link if you're interested- it really is ingenious, I highly recommend it. It was almost like the dough was just slapping off the surface and bouncing back up. Kind of like those sticky gel things you can get in the 25 cent machines and then throw against the wall haha well, at least you do when your 9...

Seriously though... look at that crumb!

It even makes great grilled garlic bread! Just slice and brush with olive oil. 
Toast it on the grill and then rub it with a fresh clove of garlic and sprinkle on some salt. 

Haha I totally just pulled off the "mitt" part of the loaf, slathered it with butter and devoured it...

Farmers Bread
adapted from cookingbread.com

Night Before:
1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup warm water

Day of:
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 Tb barley malt or molasses

1. The night before you want to make this bread add all the "night before" ingredients together and mix until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter overnight for 12-16 hours.

2.The next morning place the mixture into a large bowl. Add water (110 degrees F) to the night before mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. Add instant yeast, salt and malt or molasses. Add in a cup of bread flour and mix 'till smooth. Continue to add more flour untill it becomes too hard to mix in the bowl. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and continue to add in the rest of the flour. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes and then place into a clean bowl with a little oil. Turn the dough to lightly coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until double in bulk.

3. Pour out onto a flat surface. Cut dough in half and shape each piece into a tear drop. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

I recommend flattening more dough then I did- about half the round.
That way you'll be able to stretch it almost completely across the top of the loaf. 
4. Afterwards use a rolling pin to roll out one side of the dough to about the length and diameter of the dough. Brush edges of the rolled out part of the dough with oil or egg white.

5. Pull the rolled out part over the round part of the dough. Do the same with the other piece. Place them onto parchment. Cover with pastic wrap and allow to rise 1 hour.

6. Dust the tops with a little stone ground flour. Place into a preheated 400 degree F oven with a hot baking stone or on a cookie sheet (do not preheat cookie sheet). Create some steam by clecing a cast iron pan on the bottom of the oven and pouring about a cup of boiling water into the hot pan and close the door. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until when tapped on the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

See this link for more detailed photos of the procedure