Monday, March 26, 2012

Week 12: Piping Technique - Fine tip cookie piping

Well, this challenge was a total fail. First, I don't really have good piping accouterments. Nor do I really want any.  As you may have noticed, I tend to shy away from things that take patience or precision.  It isn't that I'm incapable so much as uninterested.  So, I knew I had to pipe with my crappy plastic, leaking bag and my not very fine piping tip.  Well, we were headed to a BBQ at a friend's house and it was going to be dark out, so no one would be able to see my crappy piping anyway so I went for it. 

I made about 3 dozen sugar cookies and cooled them.

To honor the new spring season I went with yellow and blue frosting and I iced the cookies with yellow as the base. 

I tried making flowers, dots, lines, swirls, and even a really embarrassing attempt at a bird (see it in there?), but they all looked pretty awful.  My frosting was acting weird (separating oddly) so I called it quits after a handful of cookies and just brought the yellow frosted ones to the BBQ.  They tasted fine, but over all I call this challenge a bust. 

Week 12: Cheeeeeeese - Spinach & cheese stuffed chicken breasts

Cheese isn't our favorite ingredient so while I wanted to make a cheese encased grilled cheese (a la The Sporkful - see video here), I knew neither of us really wanted to eat that much cheese so I found a recipe for stuffed chicken breasts in Cooks Illustrated (recreated here).  

As usual I took several liberties with the recipe the two big ones being I only used two chicken breasts, but I thinned them out by slicing them lengthwise, and then I also swapped the ham it calls for with spinach.  Below are the two chicken breasts I started with.

Here you can see I'd sliced them lengthwise then pounded them out so they were an even thickness.

I used cheddar and havarti cheeses because I had them and more cheese means more better.

I sauteed up some onions and garlic...

 ... and added them, along with the cheddar and havarti to come whipped cream cheese to make this: 

I put spinach down then a glob of the cheesy goodness on each chicken breast.

I rolled each one, dredged it first in flour, then in an egg wash, then finally in panko crumbs.  Sadly, there are no pictures of that part of the process because my hands were covered in chicken, but here is the final product of that process:

In two tablespoons of hot oil, I browned the outsides of them, turning every minute or two to get an even crisp.

Once browned, they went onto a foil-lined baking sheet and were baked till the internal temp registered 155 degrees. While they baked, I steamed up some brussel sprouts (obviously, right?  we eat them non-stop!).

And, here we have our final product!

They were fantastic.  They could have used a bit more salt and pepper, perhaps added to the panko for some external flavor, but needless to say, we managed to choke down this dinner in record time. 

Monday, March 19, 2012


 I saw a picture of this a while ago and have been waiting to try it. Regular meatloaf recipe just put into muffin tins and baked! I usually make turkey meatloaf and every time it is different because I use whatever the heck needs to be gotten rid of in the fridge (mushrooms, peas, corn, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, celery, onion... just to name a few of what I've put in meatloaf in the past!).

Once again, my picture taking skills were sub-par yesterday and I wasn't being very diligent about documenting the steps, but whip up some mashed potatoes and slice a few cherry tomatoes in half and - BAM- meat muffins! SO cute and fun to eat. 

Week 11 CC: Breakfast - Buttermilk Waffles

I wish I had time to make amazing breakfasts all the time. Breakfast is my favorite meal category. After a long wonderful night on Saturday and perhaps a bit too much Jameson, I needed a waffle. Bad. After making Irish Soda Bread the day before, I had left over buttermilk so the solution was clear. 

Joy of Cooking has a simple and easy butter milk waffle recipe (reproduced here) which basically is one bowl of dry ingredients and one bowl of the wet stuff.

I made a well in the dry and poured in the wet.

I love love love my waffle iron. It was actually a gift to my sister several years ago, but she is partial to the thin waffles and generously re-gifted this Belgin waffle maker right back to me. Andrew and I went through a crazy waffle phase after receiving it but have since slowed down. 

A little turkey bacon for the salty protien.

The waffle was fluffy on the inside with a nice crunch on the outside. It was warm and filling and it held up to my blackberry freezer jam quite well.  I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture with the jam on it. You'll just have to trust me. It was awesome - perfect Sunday breakfast.

Week 11 BC: Savory - Rosemary Butter Cookies

Baking challenge for this week was "savory".  At Halloween my friend brought over something similar and I've been wanting to try them ever since.  

It is a pretty simple butter cookie recipe with fresh rosemary added. 

The dough is easy to make and 

I cut the dough in half, and on two sheets of parchment rolled each half in into cylinders about 9 inches long and 1.5" diameter. Martha recommends paper towel tubes for shaping them but I didn't have any trouble just rolling by hand. Wrap the cylinders in the parchment paper and freeze for 1 hour. 

When you take them out of the freezer, roll the dough in sugar to coat the outside and slice!  So easy. 

I have another version that is quite similar in process but is more sugar cookie than butter cookie and although I've never been able to get them into circles (the cutting process always flattens one side!), they are always delicious and so simple. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Catcher in the Rye Bread - Update

Ummm, it is delicious. It was all I could do to slow myself down when eating my turkey sandwich long enough to take this picture. It has a nice dense texture with a perfectly crisp crust. The cornmeal on the bottom is really fantastic. Sorry my cell phone takes such crappy pictures. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week 10 - CC: Book/Movie Inspired: Catcher in the Rye Bread

If a body catch a body comin' through the rye...

Those who know me know that I love love love Catcher in the Rye.  It has been a favorite book of mine since reading it my sophomore year in high school. Back in 2003 I even got the original cover art tattooed on my leg. Thanks to the lovely Megan Colette Bronder for this gorgeous wedding photo :) 

Anyway, I digress.  I've been wanting to get better at baking bread and rye bread is one of my favorites.  I used the Cooks Illustrated recipe for Deli Rye Bread which calls for a sponge to be made first.

This soupy yeasty mix sits for 2+ hours covered tightly with saran wrap.   I had to use tape to get the saran wrap to stick tightly.

After 3 hours, it had more than doubled and was all bubbly.

I added the rye flour, the rest of the all-purpose flour, caraway seeds, and salt and used the dough hook to mix it all for about 5 minutes.

Once it was a cohesive ball, I took it out and kneaded it for a few minutes on a lightly floured cutting board.  I used the rye flour rather than the all-purpose. 

Once it had been worked a bit, I formed it into a nice ball and placed into a lightly greased bowl.

Again, I used tape to secure the saran wrap and then let it sit for about 2 hours.

It doubled in size and I cut it into two so that I could make two loaves.  

I shaped each half into a approximately 9x6 rectangles then rolled them up on the long side to make 9" loaves.  I pinched the seam and tucked the ends under.

I placed the loaves onto a baking stone dusted with corn meal and covered them to let them rise again. Approximately 1.5 hours. 

I beat one egg white and 1Tb of milk then basted the loaves.  Six small slices in the tops and they were ready to be put in the oven! (sorry this picture is all looks gross in the pic, but believe me it was better in real life!)

30 minutes at 450 degrees and 25 minutes at 400 degrees and they were done!  The loaves both temped to 200 degrees so I took them out and they are cooling as I write this.  I won't get to taste them till tomorrow when they are fully cooled, but I can't wait! 

Week 10: BC - Book/Movie/TV Inspired - Low Cal Calzone Zone (Parks and Recreation)

If you haven't watched Parks and Recreation, stop reading this and go to Netflix or Hulu and watch an episode.  Any episode.  It is hilarious and it is one of my favorites these days. So with this week's baking challenge of media or literature inspired this show was a clear choice to honor/emulate.  Now, I could have made waffles topped with way too much whipped cream (Leslie Knope's favorite) but there is no baking involved so I went to the obvious second choice: calzone.  Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) talks about calzone in several episodes but my favorite is the one where unemployed Ben becomes obsessed with making the perfect calzone and opening a line of restaurants called "The Low-cal Calzone Zone".


So, here they are!  Not so sure they are low-cal, but they were certainly delicious.

Each one had different ingredients but some combination of the following: onions, broccoli, mushrooms, moose-a-roni (pepparoni made from moose given to us by the in-laws)

Stretching the dough to calzone shape was not too easy, but not as hard as transferring them to the baking stone. Note to self: next time build them on the baking stone. 

This one had the moosearoni, onion, and mushrooms.

Apparently I forgot to take a picture of the other before folding and getting it into the oven, but it has mushrooms, broccoli and onion inside. 

They both baked up quite nicely but one prettier than the other.

This one sorta exploded and juiced out everywhere.  It ain't no thang, cause they were really tasty and a perfect Friday night dinner.

I cut them and we each got half so we could taste them both. 

Pair with a beer and a ceasar salad, and A and I were happy campers.