Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apple Cake Bread

FALL IS HERE!  And so are here's to some gooey cinnamon apple goodness.  This loaf-cake is crispy on top and warm and soft on the inside, with tart apple bites strewn throughout.  Pick up some apple cider at the farmer's market to complete a really delicious snack, dessert or breakfast.
What you'll need:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 large granny smith apples, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sugar+1 tsp cinnamon, set aside
Preheat oven to 350 and in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, place oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and apples. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture until fully combined. Place the dough in one greased bread loaf pan and bake for 25 minutes.  
Take the pan out and sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top.  Bake for another 25 minutes, until golden and crispy on the outside and warm and gooey, but not raw on the inside.  Let cool for ten minutes, and then enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pumpkin Sandwich Bread

Looking forward to fall?  Try making this pumpkin bread.  This is not the uber sweet pumpkin bread topped with cream cheese frosting you see around Thanksgiving (although I have no objections to that kind!).  Rather it is light and mild, with just a touch of pumpkin flavor--perfect with just a little butter or for a turkey sandwich.  You'll probably see me top it with turkey and apple butter in the near future!  I didn't take pictures until the end because the process was messy.  I was covered in flour and pumpkin by the end--But it was worth it.

What you'll need:
2 bread loaf pans
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2-7 1/2 cups (approximately) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, stir yeast into water and gently whisk. Add milk, eggs, pumpkin, oil, 4 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, ginger and cinnamon to yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.  Or, wrestle with the dough until you get frustrated and debate buying a hand mixer on amazon.

Gradually add remaining flour, a little at a time, until you have a dough stiff enough to knead.  Or, when the mass becomes manageable enough to take it out of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.  This took me 7 1/2 cups of flour in total!  When you finally get this beast under control, put the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Take the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface.  Any area that is not oiled will get covered in pumpkin dough and  So lightly oil everything. Divide the dough in half and place in 2 loaf pans. Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.  FINALLY bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 30 minutes. Immediately remove bread pans and cool on a wire rack to prevent crust from becoming soggy. For a shiny crust, brush tops of bread or rolls lightly with vegetable oil. 
Enjoy while warm!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I love chicken lettuce wraps!  I think they are the perfect crispy salty meaty combination.  Invariably there were always ordered and completely demolished when we went to Cheesecake Factory in St. Louis (is it weird that I miss that place?).  This however, is a fine substitute and SO easy to make, I can't believe I haven't made it before.
What you'll need:
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 zucchini, finely diced (use the whole zucchini if you want to up the veggie factor)
1 can diced water chestnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/2 chopped white onion
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
for the sauce:
2 tablespoons hoisin
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
sriracha to taste

Start by chopping the garlic and veggies.  Wash and dry the lettuce and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok or large heavy pan and add the onions when the oil is smoking.  When the onions turn translucent, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Add the chicken and 1/2 the sauce.  Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and saute on high heat until the chicken is cooked through.  When the chicken is totally cooked through, drain the pan of the juices at the bottom.
Then add the finely diced zucchini, the water chestnuts and the rest of the sauce.  Saute for about a minute until the sauce is absorbed and the zucchini cooked through. 
Serve with white rice, hoisin and extra sriracha.  Eat and enjoy!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fig Orange Jam and Prosciutto Goat Cheese Jam Crostini

Ever get the Martha Stewart-bug and feel like doing things you've never done before, like...make jam?  If you haven't, just ignore this post.  If you have, and totally want to learn how to make jam, read on!  I saw this recipe a while ago and just knew I'd have to try to make jam at least once this summer--I absolutely love figs, so I thought this sounded amazing.  When I found a beautiful box of them at the farmer's market, I realized it was time--I was ready to jam.  This stuff is so easy, because you make it in the microwave.  Yea, you read that right.  You can make jam in the microwave!  Super easy, and super delicious.  All you need in terms of kitchenware is a pyrex bowl or measuring cup, and a glass bottle to put the jam in after.  I think you can get some on amazon, but I just found a few at Home Goods for just a few dollars each.  To sterilize them, you put them in the over at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.  I don't know how long the jam will last out of the fridge, but mine has been good so far in the fridge for 2 weeks.

adapted from Allrecipes
What you'll need for the jam:
1 1/2 cups diced fresh figs (6-10 figs, depending on the size of the figs)
1/2 cup seeded, peeled orange, diced
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon butter

What you'll need for the crostini:
1 baguette
6 ounces goat cheese
1/4 pound prosciutto

Put all of the ingredients for the jam into a large pyrex bowl and let sit for 1/2 hour or more.  If your pyrex measuring cup is large enough to hold all of the ingredients, that is fine too.   
After half an hour, put into the microwave for 5 minutes on high.  Stir after 5 minutes.  Repeat 3 times, 15 minutes in total.  By this time, the jam should be done.  The traditional test to see if it is ready is to place a drop of it on a cold plate.  If the jam somewhat holds its shape, then it is ready.  If it is not ready, put it in for 5 more minutes.  Mine took 20 minutes in total.  When it's done, put it into the glass container and let it cool down. 
If you want to wow some guests (and I happened to have some very special guests over that very weekend) make some crostini with your new jam!  Cut the baguette into 1/2 inch slices and place in the oven at 350 for just 5 minutes so the outside gets a little crispy.  Smear each slice with a bit of goat cheese, and then a tablespoon of jam.  Top with thinly sliced prosciutto.  The goat cheese is tangy and the salty prosciutto offsets the sweet jam.  My guests went crazy for them!! Let's just say a whole bunch of jam was consumed that night.  And red wine.  Because it goes perfectly with these crostini.

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Baked Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti

    I have an unhealthy addiction to tomatoes.  I treasure them in the summer, and get weird looks when I get starry-eyed at the farmer's market looking at the brilliant selection of beautifully colored tomatoes.  I am always thinking of new ways to use tomatoes and have a long list of recipes bookmarked that use them.  Last night I wanted some comfort food, and while I love making tomato sauce with the fresh tomatoes, it's fairly time intensive, and sometimes you just want something delicious for dinner that's really really fast.  This "sauce" that I read about on Wednesday Chef caught my attention and only really needs three ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil and panko.  When added to some spaghetti will make a completely satisfying and delicious meal.

    adapted from the Wednesday Chef
    What you'll need (serves 2):
    1 pint the freshest little cherry or grape tomatoes you can find
    1/2 cup panko
    a few tablespoons olive oil
    Enough spaghetti for 2 people(I used whole wheat which I thought went well with this lighter sauce)
    *Feel free to jazz this up with parmesan and basil, if you have it on hand.

    Start by preheating the oven to 350, and boiling a pot of salted water.  As Paula says, the water should "taste like the sea!"  Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet.  Season with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then sprinkle the panko on so all the tomatoes are covered.  If you have parmesan, add that on now, as well.
    Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.  While baking, boil the spaghetti till al dente.  When the tomatoes are done, they should be hot and sweet, and the panko a very light brown.  Mush the tomatoes down with a fork, and then toss with the spaghetti, and a tablespoon or 2 of the starchy pasta water.  
    Add basil, more parmesan and a touch of olive oil.