Tuesday, October 29, 2013

World's Easiest Bread

This is literally the easiest bread to make.  Thanks to Jenny for passing this recipe along.  All you need are four basic ingredients and a dutch oven.  Enjoy it with some soup on a perfect fall night!  

3 cups of flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 c water

Mix together flour, salt and yeast, and add water.  
Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 12 to 18 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with dutch oven inside.  
Take bread out of bowl, coat with flour and form into a ball.  Cover with a cloth while the oven preheats.
Put dough in the dutch oven and cover.  Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the dutch oven lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Apple Pie

This has been one busy and fun-filled four day weekend.  My family came to town for the marathon and we got a lot done in the two days they were here, including plenty of eating.  It was exciting to see my dad and sister finish the marathon together in 4 hours and 47 minutes.  I spent the day tracking them with the rest of my family and were able to see them at 3 different mile markers throughout the city.  

I probably should have baked this pie before my family visited so they could eat some.  Sorry!  The smell of this pie in the oven right now makes me think I won't have a problem finding people to eat it.  As much as I love Chicago in the summer, I think it's even better in the fall.  I hope you get a chance to make this pie and eat it on a cool fall day.  The recipe for the crust and filling is from smitten kitchen but adapted from America's Test Kitchen (my favorite). 

Pie Dough
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons all-vegetable shortening, chilled
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
10 tablespoons ice water

The recipe from smitten kitchen included a dough recipe for a lattice-top pie.  I used the recipe but did not do a lattice-top pie.

1. Add flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and combine.  Add in shortening and process together.  Cut in the 10 tablespoons of butter and turn on processor until all is combined and a crumbly dough forms.  

2.  Transfer dough from the food processor into a mixing bowl.  Add 8 tablespoons of ice water and use a rubber spatula to combine.  If needed, add 2 more tablespoons of ice water to help the dough stick together.  Divide dough into two pieces in the shape of a 5 inch square, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. 

Apple Pie Filling
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, about 3 medium
2 pounds McIntosh apples, about 4 large
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly

1. Place the oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500 degrees.  

2. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator.  Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap.  Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle.  Transfer the dough into the pie plate, lifting up the dough from the edge and pressing it into the base corners of the pie plate.  Do not cut off any dough that hangs over the edge.  Place dough and pie plate in the refrigerator.   

3. Peel, core and cut the apples into thin slices.  Toss apple slices with lemon juice and zest.  In a separate bowl combine the sugar, flour, salt and spices.  As suggested on smitten kitchen, I doubled the measurement for all of the spices.  Pour over the apple slices and combine.  Fill the pie shell with the apple pie filling. 

I had trouble with the next step because I did not roll the bottom crust out as much as I should have.  I kind of made up my own steps, but I suggest following the ones listed below from smitten kitchen's page.

4. Roll out the second piece of dough to a 12-inch circle and place over the pie filling.  Trim the top and bottom edges to 1/2 an inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that the folded edge is flush with pan lip.  Flute edging or press with fork to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

5. Place pie on baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top crust is golden. Rotate the pie and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue baking for about 30 to 35 minutes until crust is deep golden brown.

6.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool.  The directions say to cool for 4 hours, but you're crazy if you think I'm waiting that long to try the pie.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Blueberries are one of the best fruits of the summer.  Since summer is winding down and I bought a 5 pound box of blueberries, I figured it's time to use them up and bake some blueberry goodness.  It's hard to believe it's already Labor Day weekend and soon the leaves will be falling.  These blueberry bars will be the perfect treat to bring to a picnic in the park tomorrow and to start the long holiday weekend.  

This recipe is for a 9 x 13 pan.  I cut all the ingredients in half and used 
an 8 x 8 pan and it turned out great.  

Crumb Ingredients
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking power
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
1 egg

Blueberry Filling Ingredients
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons corn starch
Juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar baking powder and salt to make the crumb mixture.  Add in the butter and use a fork or pastry blender to combine, then add the egg.  Press half of the crumb mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

In a separate bowl combine the sugar, corn starch and lemon to make the blueberry filling.  Add in the blueberries.  Pour the blueberry filling into the pan and spread evenly over the crust.  Crumble the remaining dough over the blueberry filling.  Bake the bars for 45 to 50 minutes.  Let the bars cool, then dig in.

Thanks to Brown Eyed Baker for this delicious recipe!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

European Adventures

One year ago today I was boarding a plane with my mom, dad and grandpa headed to Scotland.  While there, we stayed in Glasgow, traveled to Edinburgh, the Highlands of Scotland and spent a few days in England.  The train ride through The Highlands and meeting family in England were definitely highlights of the trip.  I also loved the Scottish accents, how friendly the people were and learning about my ancestors from England.  I would love to go back someday but in the mean time I will just have to live vicariously through my pictures.      
Streets of Glasgow
Grandpa read Harry Potter for the first time ever on this train ride and loved it
Train ride in The Highlands
Train ride in The Highlands

I love to eat and always enjoy finding unique restaurants to eat at. We ate at a variety of places and I made sure to order fish n' chips any chance I had.   
Boar Burger
Haggis (Scottish dish that contains a sheep's heart, liver and lungs minced with oatmeal, onions, suet and seasonings).

Traditional Scottish Breakfast

Next week my travel adventures continue as I fly west to British Columbia.  If only I got paid to travel.  Now that would be the dream.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Flank Steak Tacos with Cilantro Lime Marinade

Since it's so hot outside today and summer is here for at least this week, 
I felt the need to grill steak and make some tacos. 

Marinade Ingredients
2 pounds of flank steak 
Juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove
Handful of cilantro
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons of honey
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Taco Ingredients
Marinated Steak
Pico de Gallo

In a small food processor combine the garlic, lime, and cilantro.  Add in the remaining marinade ingredients to the cilantro lime mix and process until fully blended.  Cover the meat with the marinade and let sit for at least half an hour before grilling.  Cook the meat on medium-high heat for about 6 to 10 minutes on each side or to the temperature that you prefer.

Assemble the tacos with whatever toppings sound good to you.  I added pico de gallo, avocado, and cilantro and made my tacos with corn tortillas.  Enjoy.

This original recipe can be found at Eat Live Run.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Turtle Cookies

Don't be fooled by my lack of blogging, I still have been baking quite a bit lately.  We practically have a bakery in our kitchen with all the baking that goes on in this apartment.  I took advantage of my time off work on Friday and spent the day with Erikka catching up on life, eating tons of chocolate and baking these delicious cookies.  I stumbled across this little gem of a recipe thanks to Pinterest.  Originally from America's Test Kitchen, I adapted this recipe from The Kitchen is My Playground.

Cookie Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, and 1 additional egg white
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

14 caramels
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/4 cup chocolate chips for drizzle 
1 tsp. shortening

Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Beat together butter and sugar on medium speed in an electric mixer.

Once combined, mix in the egg yolk, milk and vanilla.

With the mixer on a low speed, add in the flour mixture. 

Cover the dough and refrigerate for one hour.

 Right before the hour is up, whisk the egg whites in one bowl and place the chopped pecans in a separate bowl.

Roll dough into balls (about one inch), dip in egg whites followed by the pecans and place on greased baking pan.

Make an indent in the center of each dough ball, about 1/2 teaspoon in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

 While the cookies are baking, melt the caramels and heavy cream in the microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes.  

Once the cookies are done baking, remove them from the oven and fill the indentations with about 1/2 teaspoon of caramel.  You maybe need to repress the indentations on some cookies before filling them with the caramel.

Remove cookies from the pan and let them cool. 

Melt together the chocolate chips and shortening.  Pour the melted chocolate into a zip lock bag, snip the corner and drizzle the chocolate over the cookies.  Use as much or as little chocolate as you wish! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cinnamon Bread

Lately I've been quite obsessed with The Pioneer Woman blog.  So when I saw this recipe she had posted for homemade cinnamon bread I wanted to stop everything I was doing and bake it.  Unfortunately, I was at work when I stumbled upon it so stopping everything wasn't exactly an option. 
If you're in the baking mood but have a lot of work to do around the house, bread is the perfect thing to make.  There is plenty of time to be productive while you are waiting around for the bread to rise and bake.  In my case, being productive meant putting in a load of laundry, watching multiple episodes of How I Met Your Mother and going on Pinterest.  That's productive, right? 

Do me a favor and eat this bread warm with some butter on top. I promise you won't be disappointed. If you are, then mail me your bread and I'll eat it for you! No homemade cinnamon bread should ever go to waste.  Ever.

1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
egg and milk mixed together for brushing
softened butter for greasing the pan

1. Melt butter with milk.  Heat until warm, but make sure the mixture does not boil. 
2.  Once the butter and milk have slightly cooled, mix in the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. 

3. Combine the flour and salt. 
4. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar and eggs.  If you are using a Kitchen Aid mixer, use the paddle attachment. 
5. Mix the milk, butter, and yeast mixture in with the sugar and eggs.
6. Add half of the flour and beat on medium speed until combined. Once combined, the remainder of the flour can be mixed in.
7. Again, if you are using a KitchenAid mixer you will need to switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium speed for ten minutes.
8. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup of flour and beat for 5 more minutes.
9. Warm up a mixing bowl and add some oil.  I stuck my bowl in the oven VERY briefly to get it warm.
10. Add the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in a warm environment for 2 hours to rise. 

11. After 2 hours of rising, roll the dough out into the shape of a rectangle, about 18 to 24 inches long.
12. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and spread over dough.
13. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle onto the dough.
14. To roll the dough, begin at the far end and roll towards you. Make sure to keep it tight and pinch to close when you get to the end.

15. Coat the bread pan with butter to grease and place the dough in the pan, seam down. I made the mistake of not putting the seam down far enough and my bread opened up a little to much while it was baking.
16. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours.
17. Just before the bread is done rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
18. Mix together some egg and milk and spread it over the top of the dough.
19. Bake for 40 minutes on a lower to middle rack in the oven.
20. When the bread is done, remove from pan and if you have patience, allow the bread to cool.

Slice into your bread and enjoy all of its goodness!  When I cut into my bread the center shape just happened to be a "G", obviously in honor of the Green Bay Packers!     
For the original recipe of this cinnamon bread and many other wonderful recipes, check out the Pioneer Woman's website.