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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stuffed Blueberry French Toast


I actually made breakfast today! That never happens. My idea of a great breakfast is either cold cereal or sometimes even leftovers from dinner. Pizza anyone?

This morning I decided to make my version of stuffed blueberry french toast. Technically it's not stuffed since I only put bread on the bottom instead of bottom and top. No recipe, I winged it and this is what I came up with.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Line the bottom with a few pieces of bread, broken into bite size pieces.


Then, in a bowl, mix 1/2 block of cream cheese with a tablespoon or 2 of powdered sugar, and a tiny bit of milk. Drop this mixture by small spoonfuls over the bread.
Then, add a layer of blueberries (I used frozen).

In another bowl, mix together enough milk, eggs, a splash of vanilla, and a little cinnamon and nutmeg to cover the bread. Pour over bread & blueberries. Bake this for about 40-45 minutes at 375. I baked it uncovered because I may have added a little too much liquid, so I knew it wouldn't dry out.

I also sprinkled a tiny bit of powdered sugar overtop each of our bowls. Aaron loved it and had seconds.

Usually these type of stuffed french toast recipes are made the night before and left in the fridge overnight to bake in the morning. I may do that someday, but only for a special occasion. I never plan my breakfast the night before.

Next time I would add just a little bit of butter and more of the cream cheese mixture.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Naan

When I made Chicken Tikka Masala a few weeks ago, I forgot to make this naan with it. I finally got the chance to make it tonight. We had some friends over and we had Chicken Tikka Masala - with the naan. It was great!!
Two things - when I was first mixing the dough, I really didn't think it would come together. It was very dry and flakey. It definitely took at least 6 minutes to come together into a nice, smooth ball. My only other tip is to watch it carefully on the grill - it burns easily! Maybe we brushed a little too much butter on? But it tasted great! This recipe makes a LOT! (I think we had 15-16 pieces!)

Recipe from Allrecipes.com
INGREDIENTS
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth.
Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray.

Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.

At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle.

Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wilton Course 2 - Class 4

For my final cake, I made chocolate buttercream instead of the original recipe. I also used half butter and half shortening and eliminated the merengue powder. This was the best buttercream I have made for all my classes, thus far. I will probably stick to this combination for all of my future cakes (except for chocolate).

This class was basically just the assembly of all of the Royal Icing flowers and the Color Flow birds we made throughout the class. We did learn how to create basketweave and rope border out of buttercream. I had a hard time keeping my basketweave very straight on the cake and without gaps in places. Overall, I think everything turned out great! On to class 3 in two weeks....

I couldn't decide which pictures to post. I like them all!










Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

With all of the leftover icing from my Wilton Classes, I decided to make cut-out cookies with my niece, Fallyn, this weekend and let her decorate them. The recipe below is from allrecipes.com. Fallyn liked how soft the dough was and how much fun it was to roll it out and play with it. She said she could do this every day for the rest of her life! Wow - and I thought I liked to bake! She did a great job! Don't they look great?



INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter.

Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

While the batter was chilling, my brother came over with his new puppy...




Back to work we go. Here is Fallyn with the first sheet of cookies ready to bake. She's also modeling my new Apron from TPOX (my WC exchange elf)!

Cake Batter Ice Cream

Lately I've been going star crazy in my Google Reader. Seriously - I star too much. The only way to clean up my starred items is to MAKE the recipe! Unfortunately, I can star things much faster than I can make them. Slowly, I am working through all of them, in n particular order. This one comes from Vicki's Healthy Eats and Sweet Treats. I love Cake Batter Ice Cream from Cold Stone and this was pretty darn close. I will make this one again and again. Go ahead and star it in your reader right now.



Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup yellow cake mix (I bought French Vanilla cake mix after losing a long debate in the grocery over what flavor batter to use.)

Directions:
In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Stir in cake mix, making sure there are no lumps. Husbands like helping with ice cream....

Pour mixture into the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker and let mix until it has thickened (about 25-30 minutes).

Remove ice cream from freezer bowl and place into a separate container.

Place freezer bowl and the ice cream into the freezer to further harden.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Turkey Meatloaf

I printed a bunch of Weight Watchers recipes several months ago and made some really great dinners. One of them was this meatloaf. Aaron & I both like this recipe over any other meatloaf recipe I've made (even Emeril's with a million ingredients!). The flavor is awesome and just the fact that it's a lighter version of a good comfort food makes it even better. It's only August, but I am ready for Fall now. I was a little anxious about getting into cool weather cooking.

I think this was also the first thing I ever made using ground turkey.


Points: 6
Servings: 5
Preparation Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 43 min.
Difficulty: Easy


Ingredients:
1 TBSP Olive oil
3/4 cup onion(s), chopped finely
1/4 cup green pepper(s), chopped finely
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, sharp
1 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. ketchup
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 pound uncooked ground turkey breast (I only used 1 lb)
1 spray of cooking spray
1/2 cup ketchup
1 TBSP unpacked light brown sugar
1 tsp. mustard


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.


Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Saute 3 minutes. Cool.


Combine onion mixture, cheese and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to moisten bread. Crumble turkey over onion mixture; stir until just blended.


The mixture, before adding the meat & egg:


Pack meat into an 8x4 loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard in a small bowl; stir well.


Spread ketchup mixture over meat loaf and bake an additional 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.


Remove meat loaf from pan. Cut into 10 slices. (Serving size: 2 slices)


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wilton Course 2 - Class 3

More flowers for your viewing pleasure. This will be a short post - just a brief overview of class 3.
  1. I didn't have the right tip to make the rose, so I have to practice that this weekend.

  2. I suck at making daisies. I think my icing was a little dry and crumbly.

  3. Daffodils can look great, but are a bit of trouble (changing tips and all). Mine need work.

  4. Pansies are simple, fun and can be made quickly. One of my pansies started to look like a butterfly. So I made a butterfly and the pansy butterfly looked better than the real butterfly.


  5. I love making the primroses - almost as much as pansies.


Photos of all:



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wilton Course 2 - Class 2

Class 2 was a lot of fun last night. It was my first time using Color Flow (CF) and Royal Icing (RI). Even the preparation of the icing before class was better than all of the previous classes. I really hate using shortening & butter. It makes everything harder to clean. Our instructor asked us to leave our CF and RI very stiff, and we would thin it down and color it during class.

So, we started off by thinning out the CF to make the birds. We tested the CF by dropping a bit into the bowl and counting to 10. If the CF drip blended into the rest within 10 seconds, it was ready to use. I colored half of it a light blue using Sky Blue color. I piped a white outline (I have really un-steady hands!) of the bird and filled in with blue. I can see why the 10 second test is important. Towards the end of filling in the bird, you could see each place I stopped piping because it didn't blend in as much. Overall, I'm satisfied with my first try. The birds still need their eyes and beaks.I have a lot of color flow left over. I'm thinking I might try and make up a few things for a couple of cakes in the near future.

Next, we started with the Royal Icing flowers. Our first flower was the apple blossom. Again, we thinned down the CF to a slightly thicker than medium consistency, so it didn't get too soft and allow the flowers to lose their shape. I loved making apple blossoms. I really like that RI is a little forgiving in that you can adjust the petals a little after they are piped. I still need to put the yellow centers in (or is it white?), but didn't have a chance to color the yellow yet. I will probably finish it after tomorrow's class. I'm hoping I can strategically place them to cover up some imperfections. See how nice they look?




After the Apple Blossoms, we practiced violet leaves. I didn't get any pictures because I only did a few of these in class and didn't save any. Since they won't be on the final cake, I just made some using the icing for the actual violet flower. I think it could have used another drop or two of water because my wrist was shaking as I was trying to pipe it out. Ouch!

Our final flower was the violet. By the point, my wrist was killing me, so I am not very happy with any of these. I may redo them with a well-rested wrist :) Again, these still need their centers, which will be small yellow dots. This is the only close-up you get of the violets!


And here's a shot of everything we did in class 2. The birds are left on the cardboard to dry and the flowers laid in the plastic formers to dry and to help them curve a bit so they aren't flat on top of the cake.

Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes

I love making these twice baked potatoes. Originally, I got the recipe for Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes from allrecipes.com, but really...you don't even need a recipe for this! I used the same ingredients, just subbing half and half for the milk, but didn't measure anything.

First, I cooked 10-12 potatoes in the microwave (not all at once), and then put them in the fridge to cool. Once cooled, I cut each in half and scooped out all but 1/4 inch of potato from the skins. In a bowl, I mixed sour cream, chopped green onions, crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, tiny bit of butter, and half and half with the potatoes until it was creamy, but not too thick or thin. I made up several bags for the freezer, each with 4 potato halves.
I baked some of them up when we had meatloaf the other night and they were so good! Very creamy and flavorful. I think I baked them at 375 for about 20-30 minutes. You can eat as is, or top with a little extra something. I put a small spoon our sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese on top.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blueberry Muffins

We have a chest freezer in our garage (soon to be moved to the basement for better efficiency) that is getting very, very full. We are planning to buy 1/4 side of beef in December and at this rate we will have no room for it. We have a 25 lb turkey, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, chili, zucchini and banana bread, vegetables, wedding cake, pizza dough, and don't forget the blueberries. I think I have 5-6 gallon-size bags full of them left. So here we have another blueberry recipe...

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart - Mini Blueberry Muffins. I baked them for about 15-17 minutes. Blueberry is not really my flavor of choice for muffins, but they were still really good! Aaron started back to work at the school last week. I'm happy because: 1. I don't have to be the only one to get up early in the morning. 2. I don't have to be the only one to go to bed early at night. 3. I get to bake for his coworkers and kids! Not wasting any time, I sent him to work with a little breakfast treat for everyone this week.

Ingredients
Makes 1 dozen
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. (I used liners.) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Working over the bowl, toss blueberries in a fine sieve with about 1 1/2 teaspoons flour mixture to lightly coat; set aside the flour mixture and the blueberries.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Mix in vanilla.

  3. With the mixer on low speed, add reserved flour mixture, beating until just combined. Add milk, beating until just combined. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. If desired, in a small bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle sugar mixture on top of muffin batter. (Instead, I just mixed the nutmeg into the batter.)

  4. Bake, rotating pan halfway though, until muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn muffins on their sides in their cups, and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blueberry Crumb Bars

There are 4 less cups of blueberries in my freezer thanks to this recipe. I came across these as I was reading blogs yesterday. I was in a baking kind of mood and decided to make them last night. I saw them at Made by Melissa, who found them at Smitten Kitchen, who found them at allrecipes.com. Wow!

This is a great recipe, rated at 4.5 stars by 207 people at allrecipes.com I agree, it ranks pretty high. It was very quick to mix up! I had some peppers baking in the oven for 30 minutes. Well I used some of that time to clean up the dishes, then went and printed off this recipe and had everything ready to go in by the time the peppers were done. That quick. I did end up baking them for an extra 5 minutes, just to let the top get a little more brown.

I knew if I left these at home, I would be 5 lbs heavier in a couple days. Aaron and I had a taste of one and the rest were brought in to my office this morning. Ok, I had another one this morning. Before I could even set the plate down, my coworkers were digging in and saying how great they taste!

INGREDIENTS
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon, if desired. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.


Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
 
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