Archive for March, 2013

The Bunny made me do it!

March 31, 2013

cake

Today the girls have me making this Easter Bunny cake we saw on food network. I decided to make my bunny chocolate so I had to find the perfect chocolate cake recipe (posted below). I have caught a few episodes of the Pioneer Woman and I thought I’d give her cake a go since her recipes look simple and delicious. I will post a pic of the bunny later, but for now, here is the chocolate cake. I halved the recipe since I only need 2 round cakes and it came out perfect!

Ingredients
Cake:
4 sticks butter, plus more for greasing
8 heaping tablespoons cocoa, plus more for dusting
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 whole eggs, beaten

Directions
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heavily grease and dust with cocoa four 9-inch round cake pans.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cocoa. Stir together. Add the boiling water, allow the mixture to boil for 30 seconds and then turn off the heat. Pour over the flour mixture and stir lightly to cool.

Combine the buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla and beaten eggs. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the butter/chocolate mixture.

Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool completely before icing. Refrigerate the layers after cooling for best results.

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Chicken Biscuit Pot Pie

March 27, 2013

chicken

I have never been a fan of chicken pot pie, something about the soupiness of it and the pie crust just didn’t equal delicious to me. But both my dad and hubby love pot pie. After a recent trip out to eat where Campy had a KW version of pot pie that was actually pretty scrumptious I was inspired to overcome my aversion.

Well whose recipes usually convert me over to a believer? That would be my lovah, Alton Brown. Hold up, Alton Brown you say? Ok so he may not been oozing with dancing with the stars sexiness but his recipes are technical and my perfect go to for any accurate version of your favorite dish. I found his chicken pot pie and of course he one upped it by not making a pie crust, but using biscuits! Think what it would be like if chicken and dumplings and chicken pot pie had a baby.

To me this was the perfect compromise, as I love biscuits and even though I am not a casserole fan, the biscuits distracted me enough to indlulge. Even my picky kiddos dug right in. Some tips: the cheese in the biscuits made them even more tasty and the shredded rotisserie chicken was nice and tender, instead of the usual dry chicken pot pie meat. My mom wasn’t a fan of the chicken sausage, next time I would probably use just regular sausage. Are you wondering why I put sausage in a “pot pie” – well, think biscuits and gravy, mmmm! So if you want to make a relatively simple version of chicken pot pie even more delicious you should check this recipe out – click the link or see below

Chicken Biscuit Pot Pie – Courtesy of Alton Brown & FN

Ingredients
Filling:
1 pound bulk-style chicken sausage
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 pounds shredded, cooked chicken, about 5 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Biscuit Topping:
12 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
1 teaspoon freshly chopped sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 ounces extra-sharp white Cheddar
4 ounces unsalted butter, frozen
7 ounces low-fat buttermilk
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
For the filling: Set a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Crumble the chicken sausage in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add the butter and melt, stirring to coat the sausage. Sprinkle the flour onto the sausage and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the milk and chicken broth and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, salt, sage, and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside while preparing the biscuits.

For the biscuits: Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, thyme, sage, and cayenne pepper in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Grate the cheese and butter using the large shredding disk of a food processor or the large side of a box grater. Immediately add the cheese and butter to the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Pour in the buttermilk and stir just to combine. Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and start folding the dough over on itself, gently kneading for 30 seconds, or until the dough is soft and smooth. Press the dough into a 1/2-inch thick round. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out the biscuits, being sure to push the cutter straight down through the dough to the work surface. Make your cuts as close together as possible to limit waste. Gather together any remaining dough, pat out again, and cut out as many biscuits as you can in order to get 9 total.

To build the pie: Set the biscuits on top of the filling, placing 8 around the edge of the pan and 1 in the middle. Bake until the biscuits are tall and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I did not have a large enough skillet so I used a 9×13 pan and I just used scraps of biscuit dough to fill in spaces between round biscuits

Sunday Scones

March 24, 2013

sconescones

When Sunday rolls around each week I can’t help but want to heat up my oven. I don’t know if it is the relaxed pace of my morning, not wolfing down cold toast and burning coffee on my way to work. Maybe it is the allure of eating something delicious in my jammies. Either way I love to find new recipes to try out or old reliable ones to make. My scone recipe is nothing fancy but it tastes delectable. This time I folded in some fresh blueberries to enhance the recipe. I have made it with cinnamon chips, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate chips or just plain.

It is up to you how you want to make them unique. Don’t be intimidated by dough, this dough is extremely easy to work with and it comes together with patience. At first it may seem you have a pile of crumbs on your counter, but as you work with the dough, the butter will melt from the warmth of your hands and the dough will come together, I promise! Just don’t over work the dough, once it just comes together, stop kneading it (it is not like pizza dough) or your scones will be tough. So if you are feeling the Sunday oven breakfast love, bake up some scones and serve with butter and jam, for a cozy start to your morning

Sunday Scones

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients:

2 cups of all purpose flour

3 Tablespoons of sugar

1 Tablespoon of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

6 Tablespoons of chilled butter (I usually stick mine in freezer real quick while preparing other ing)

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup half and half or light cream

1/4 c – 1/2 c of dried fruit, nuts, chips, or fresh fruit, small amount

1 Tablespoon of half and half and 2 teaspoons of sugar for glaze

1. Combine flour , 3T sugar, baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender, if desired add dried fruit, nuts, chips (if using fresh fruit, see next step). Combine 1/2 cup half and half and egg in separate bowl and add fresh fruit if using. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, stir just until moistened.

2. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, knead 12-15 times, until nearly smooth. Pat or lightly roll into a circle with 1/2 inch thickness, cut into 6-8 triangles (like a pizza).

3. Place scones 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with 1 Tablespoon of half and half mixed with 2 teaspoons of sugar, using pastry brush. Bake in 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or till golden. Remove from baking sheet, cool 5 mins and serve warm.

Slice down the middle, like a sub roll, and spread butter, jam or whatever you like inside the two halves, and manga!

Cinnamon roll pancakes, need I say more?

March 10, 2013

photo

So you all know my hubby is always giving hints about recipes he would like me to make. This time around he left the cinnamon roll pancake recipe on my FB wall so how could I resist? Those drool worthy pancakes taunted me everytime I logged in. I have to admit, as far as recipes go, this one was a bit challenging. But it was well worth it in the end. The hardest part was getting the cinnamon roll filling piped into the pancake when it was on the griddle and knowing the right amount. The frosting looked too buttery to me at first but then I saw how it melted over the hot pancakes so it was buttery for a reason. Oh and it made like a million pancakes, so I would halve it unless you have breakfast guests. So if you are tired of your standard Sunday go to recipes, take your pancakes to a whole new level, and forget the syrup!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Ingredients:
for the Pancakes:
4 cups all-purpose flour
8 tsps baking powder
2 tsp. salt
4 cups milk
4 tbsps vegetable oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

for the Cinnamon Filling
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

for the Cream Cheese Glaze
1/2 cup butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
To make the Cinnamon Filling:
Mix the three ingredients together. Place in a disposable piping bag and snip the end off or put in a Ziploc bag and snip the corner off.

To make the Pancakes:
Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Stir them together until everything is moistened leaving a few lumps.

Heat your griddle to exactly 325 degrees. You don’t want these too cook too quickly, and you won’t want your cinnamon to burn.

Make desired size pancake on greased griddle and then using the piping bag and starting at the center of the pancake, create a cinnamon swirl. Wait until the pancake has lots of bubble before you try to turn it. You will find that when you turn it the cinnamon swirl will melt. The cinnamon will melt out and create the craters which the cream cheese glaze will fill.

To make the Cream Cheese Glaze:
In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter and cream cheese and then stir together. Whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Add a little milk if needed to make
it a glaze consistency.

Place pancake on plate, then cover with cream cheese glaze. Forget the syrup, even my kids said no to it, these are sweet enough on their own. Think IHOP Cinnabon Pancakes, but in your own home and wearing your jammies

Gnocchi Alfredo Amore

March 2, 2013

photo

I have posted my gnocchi adventures before but this time I used a new technique, using the back of a fork to hand press your gnocchi shape. (See video update below) It is not a requirement to roll it like this, as you can just simply hand cut your gnocchi and be done, but the fork tines do make a nice traditional gnocchi indentation.

Making gnocchi is hard work but it is well worth the delicious result, especially paired with my pistachio alfredo concoction. Pistachio alfredo is a yummy treat we ate when we lived in Sicily, they used what they grew around them at the little farm agiturismos we went to, so pistachio was a plentiful ingredient in many dishes. Something about the rich soil from the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Etna made the vegetation grow like crazy in Sicily. I usually double the gnocchi recipe to feed my family of four, the gnocchi is not a large serving even with it doubled, but it is very rich and filling so you don’t eat a giant bowl.

Update: here is my video of my technique to hand roll your own gnocchi: http://youtu.be/HW5t2WbbPlg

Gnocchi

  • 1 pound baking potatoes, preferably Russet
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of nutmeg

alfredo

  • 2 T of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated pecorino Romano, or more if you like
  • 1 cup of shelled pistachios grinded to powder in a spice grinder or nutribullet
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

1) To make the gnocchi: Bake or microwave the potatoes until soft (do not boil as the potatoes absorb too much water). Peel the warm potatoes and press them through a ricer, or mash them; measure out 1 ¼ cups potato; enjoy the rest as you see fit.

2) Mix the baking powder with the flour, and sprinkle over the potatoes.

3) Add the cheese, yolks, salt, and nutmeg, mixing just until everything comes together in a smooth ball.

4) Place the dough on a floured work surface, cover, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

5) Take about a third of the dough, and roll it into a rope about the thickness of a finger.

6) Cut ¾”-long pieces. Using a gnocchi board, or the back of a fork, roll the individual gnocchi to create ridges on one side, and a little space in the middle.

7) Place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted with flour, cover lightly, and chill until ready to cook. Gnocchi may be stored in the refrigerator up to a day, and in the freezer for several months.

8) To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow boil, and add the gnocchi.

9) Once gnocchi float to the surface, cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain cooked gnocchi, and toss with sauce.

10) For the Alfredo,  melt butter and add minced garlic, then add cream over medium heat until it starts to slowly bubble and thicken. Then stir and keep simmering until the sauce is reduced in volume by about a a third. Add the cheese and stir until all the cheese melts and the sauce becomes smooth, add salt and pepper to taste (I don’t need salt usually because butter and cheese have salt) then add ground up pistachios and stir it in to thicken sauce.

12) Toss with pasta and sprinkle servings with pepper and more cheese if you like.

Yield: 4 appetizer portions, 2 main course portions. Double gnocchi recipe to feed family of 4, sauce makes enough in one batch…