Archive for the ‘my favorite things’ Category

Box Brownies from scratch

October 26, 2016

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Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love brownies. If I go to a frozen yogurt sundae bar, a brownie is my first choice in my cup. I have written before about how much I love boxed brownies. For someone who bakes most things from scratch that may be odd. But I grew up on brownies from scratch so a box mix at a party was my favorite treat. Though I do love my mom’s brownies, the texture and stickiness of box brownies is my favorite. I have an awesome college friend who shares my love of brownies, my brownie husband recipe is one of her favorites.

I googled homemade brownies that taste like a box mix and found an amazing recipe. I would say I have made it a dozen times since I found it last year. It is perfect for any occasion and people can’t believe they are from scratch. I recently made them and used the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa instead of regular cocoa and it made them even more decadent. So if you are a closet Betty Crocker box brownie junkie like me, you need to try these! They are super easy and only have a few ingredients instead of ones you can’t pronounce, which is something I always look for when recreating stuff at home.

Quick and Easy Brownies {Like a Box Mix!}

Yield: 12-16 brownies

Ingredients

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 square baking pan, or line it with parchment paper.
2. Mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla extract.
3. Add eggs and mix until well combined.
4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
5. Slowly add to the egg mixture until well combined.
6. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

Recipe modified from AllRecipes.com

 

Your Turkey will Thank you

November 26, 2014

Every year I make the same amazing turkey recipe given to me by my bestie. I wanted to share it with you and also repost the link to the cobbler I am making, a fan favorite in my family.  This turkey has amazing flavor with the combination of fresh herbs, fruit and also the Herbs de Provence. Make sure you use authentic Herbs de Provence, with lavender, as the imitation version does not have the lavender and that makes the dish.

Turkey with Herbs De Provence & Citrus

Ingredients
  • 1 (14 to 15-pound) turkey, neck and giblets reserved
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half
  • 1 granny smith apple, cut into wedges
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 6 fresh sage sprigs
  • 6 fresh oregano sprigs
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (approximate amount)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Directions

To make the turkey: Position the rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a rack set inside a large roasting pan. Place the orange and lemon wedges, onion, and 2 sprigs of each fresh herb in the main turkey cavity. Tie the legs together to hold the shape of the turkey. Stir 2 tablespoons of butter, the herbes de Provence, oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of each the salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the butter melts. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey and between the turkey breast meat and skin. Place the turkey neck and giblets in roasting pan. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.)

Cover the turkey breast with foil. Roast for 20 minutes. Pour 3 cups of broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs to the pan. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the foil from the turkey; pour 1 more cup of broth into the pan. Continue roasting the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F to 175 degrees F or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer. Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes while preparing the gravy.

To make the gravy: Strain the turkey pan juices from the roasting pan through a sieve and into a 4-cup glass measuring cup; discard the solids. Spoon off the fat from atop the pan juices. Add enough chicken broth, about 1 to 2 cups, to the pan juices to measure 4 cups total. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth. Simmer until the gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the turkey with the gravy.

“Get in my belly” strawberry shortcake cake

June 21, 2014

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My new favorite cooking go to buddy is the Pioneer Woman. Maybe you have seen her show on Food Network or read her blog, but if not, check her out. She speaks to me in my language – cooking ridiculously delicious things from scratch. I have made a few of her recipes on here, most recently I made her fajita recipe again that I posted here. I offered to make a cake for someone’s birthday and I went to her amazing blog and just simply searched “cake.” I like doing this as the variety of options that come up are endless, from angel food cake, to decadent chocolate peanut butter to fruity summer treats. I suggest you check out her blog, not only does she post amazing food photography and step by step photos, but she has new take on old favorites, great holiday recipes,  and a recipe for pretty much anything.

So on a recent search I was curious about her strawberry shortcake cake recipe that popped up. I love strawberry shortcake and have tried many versions. This one was not a typical biscuit or sponge cake with strawberry topping and whipped cream recipe. It was the ingredients you would expect to find in this dessert but with a twist – cake and cream cheese frosting. Let me put it out there that I LOVE cream cheese frosting. I don’t know if it is because it is sort of like a quick cheesecake flavored treat or if it is because it is rich and creamy and great to top anything from cinnamon rolls to brownies to carrot cake. Anyhow a strawberry shortcake with cream cheese frosting sounded intriguing. So I decided to give it a go.

The cake in this “shortcake” is like one I never tasted. It is like a sponge cake but not as soft and it has amazing flavor and texture. In the last few years I became a strawberry shortcake biscuit recipe fan, and had gone away from the cake version. Anyhow, this cake was amazing, it was the perfect vessel for the strawberries and cream cheese.  I am not exaggerating when I say this is ONE OF THE BEST CAKES I HAVE EVER TASTED. Something about the cake and the way you smash up the strawberries and then layer them with cream cheese frosting over the strawberries and then over the entire cake, makes it just sing in your mouth. Plus this cream cheese frosting is richer and more tasty than any I have made before and will be my new go to version for other recipes. This shortcake cake is one that you’ll be salivating over for years to come.

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split the cake when cool

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smash up your fresh berries

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make the cream cheese frosting of my dreams

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it may look plan but inside this cake is magic!

Next time I will top it with more berries for pretty decorations.

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 9 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 3 whole Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

Icing

  • 1/2 pound (80z) Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 pound Strawberries

Preparation Instructions

IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway. (I used a spring foam 9 inch cheesecake pan which shortened my baking time a bit)

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.
Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.

Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly like my bottom (from the pioneer woman, not me, haha). Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoons sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.

Make icing: combine cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.

Slice cake in half through the middle. Spread strawberries evenly over each half (cut side up), pouring on all the juices. Place cake halves into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.

Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining 1/3 cup around the sides.

Leave plain OR garnish with strawberry halves.

IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!

 

Cinnamon Bun Sundays

February 16, 2014

rolls

My readers have seen my many posts on Sunday morning treats before. I recently saw a new recipe I just had to try. It was from a show that always has great recipes, the Chew. Also, these cinnamon rolls are from one of my favorite chefs, Mario Batali. Upon reading the ingredients I was a bit puzzled. The dough had white wine in it, hmm that sounds strange, I thought. I have never used wine in any doughs before, I wondered if it would come together. I have also never had a Mario Batali recipe that turned out bad so I figured what the heck. I had a nice bottle of chardonnay in fridge I use for cooking. The water and sugar amounts in the recipe were less than usual dough so I could see how the wine replaces those measurements.

dough
I have to tell you, when me and my gorgeous Italian sous chef mixed it together it smelled a bit funky. But after we added the flour and got the dough to come together it was the perfect texture and the smell of the wine and the yeast went away. After letting the dough rise, I knew this was going to be great, as the dough was so soft and fluffy. It was really easy to make it the recipe had one of my favorite criteria – I had all of the ingredients in the house (even before grocery day, and my cabinets were pretty bare).

filler

The only thing I tweaked was using my mom’s confectionary sugar glaze, instead of Mario’s version. So if you want to whip up some fresh cinnamon rolls for a sweet Sunday treat, these rolls are a great new version to try.

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Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1/4 cup Light Red or White Wine
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast; 1/4 ounce envelope
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour; plus more for dusting

For Assembling the Rolls

  • 1/2 stick Melted Butter; plus more to coat pan
  • 1/2 cup Demerara or Turbinado Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • Salt

Glaze

  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Warm Water
  • 2 Lemons; zested
  •  To Make the Dough: Combine the Wine, Water and Yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the Honey, Salt and the Olive Oil and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the Flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the Flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
    Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
  • For Assembling the Cinnamon Rolls: Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter a small cake pan and set aside.
    On a clean floured surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin. When the dough is an 1/8 inch thick, pour the Melted Butter generously on top, spreading evenly. Evenly sprinkle the Sugar and Cinnamon over the Melted Butter.

    Carefully roll the dough, working away from you. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into even slices, about one to two inches thick. Arrange the slices in the cake pan to fill pan as much as possible, with the edges of the rolls in contact with each other. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

  • To Make the Glaze: While the rolls are baking, prepare the icing by placing Powdered Sugar in a bowl. Pour the warm water into the Sugar and whisk until smooth. Adjust the Sugar and Water until desired consistency has been reached. Add zest and stir to combine. Drizzle glaze over rolls to serve.

*Cooks note: My mom’s glaze is confectionary sugar, vanilla extract, milk and butter. I eyeball it but I would say it is: 2 Cups confectionary sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbs milk and 1 Tbs butter, can add more milk as needed to thin out frosting. I use this anytime I need a glaze.

Making whoopee under the moon

February 8, 2014

moon

Eastern versus western is always an ongoing battle in our world. Whether it is BBQ or burger places, each coast always thinks theirs is the best. I have been lucky enough to live on both coasts which has given me the chance to sample many culinary delights. I am a yankee by birth and proud of it. On the east coast my favorite sweet treat is called a black moon or a moon pie. After living out west for the last few years I have found they are called whoopee pies out here. I always get a strange look when I say I am bringing a black moon to a party in CA. But I know if I was home in New Hampshah and said I had whoopee pies for dessert, I might get a funny look.

However you like to say it, moon pies are a real treat. The moist chocolate cake made into a sandwich with fluff (another thing west coast people usually do not know about) frosting to glue it together; can you think of a better marriage? When I have seen these heavenly little pies at bakeries, they are upwards of $5! You can make them very cheaply and then you don’t have to eat just one. Another fun thing is to make mini “slider” versions or just go for it and make a few large ones, with the same batch of batter and frosting.  This is my mom’s recipe (thanks Mahgee), not sure where she got it, but this is the only time my friends and family get excited for me to break out my moons.

Black Moons (aka whoopie pies, aka moon pies, aka heaven)

Cake Ingredients:

1/2 cup crisco

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

2 cups of all purpose flour (king arthur’s is best)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder

1 cup of milk

1. Beat crisco, egg, sugar and vanilla.

2. Mix dry ingredients and then add to wet alternatively with milk.

3. Drop from cookie or muffin scoop (depending on size you want, can use a spoon) onto ungreased baking pan, can make  around 24 halves

4. Bake at 425 degrees for 9-10 mins, check oven temp and watch those suckers, they burn fast. Mine were done in 8! A few got a bit dark on the underside edge, I used a zester to remove the darker spots, a very handy tool to keep you from throwing away stuff that baked a bit too long in spots.

Cream Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup crisco

1 cup confectionary sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of marshmallow fluff

Dilute with tiny bit of milk

1. mix crisco, confectionary sugar, vanilla, and fluff in stand mixer. Dilute with teaspoon or more of milk if needed, to get to nice thick spreadable frosting consistency.

Frost one half of moon and stick second half on top. Dust with confectionary sugar from sifter to make a pretty treat.

Makes around 1 dozen whoopie pies, depending on size. I know I am all about natural and I rarely use crisco in my recipes, but I have tried this recipe with butter and it is not the same, so it is ok to break out the crisco once and a while.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

December 29, 2013

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There are many beautiful colors in the rainbow, but my favorite are red, white and green – the color of the Italian flag. I have been wanting to make this recipe for some time but did not have the specific ingredient (marzipan) or the time, as it takes a lot of steps. I went to the base commissary recently and saw they had marzipan on clearance and took it as a sign. Marzipan is an almond paste that is used in many dolce Italian treats. In Sicily they used it to make these gorgeous replicas of fruit that were hand painted and delicious. I knew of Marzipan before I lived in Sicily because my mom always sought out the marzipan chocolate in her belgian chocolate assortments, so I grew to love the flavor at a young age. My mom can be frugal at times but won’t blink when it comes to spending more on some great chocolate. But I digress…

Since I had the marzipan in my pantry I decided to go for it. This year I was also making my mom’s black and white cookies for Santa, they are such a yummy confection. The recipe I was using was by an Italian chef I really admire, Lidia Bastianich. She has some amazing recipes on her site and a popular PBS show called Lidia’s Italy. I would have to say it was not a hard recipe to complete but it did take a lot of steps and over a couple of days to complete. I would not have been able to do it without the help of my fabulous Italian sous chef, Gianna. The end result was a Italian rainbow bar of decadence and scrumptiousness. Even my husband who is not a huge fan of marzipan or almond extracts, loved the cookies. The only thing we modified was to use strawberry jam instead of apricot to appease the little people in my house. I think this was a good marriage – think chocolate covered strawberries – so that flavor married well with the chocolate and almond. Also I used three 9×12 rimmed cookie sheets and barely had enough batter to fill those, so you might not need the bigger pans in the recipe. If you want to make some special treats for a holiday or event, let yourself be inspired by the Italian flag in this recipe.

Lidia’s Italian Rainbow Cookies:

Ingredients:

8 ounces almond paste
1 cup sugar
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon red food coloring, gel or paste preferred
1 teaspoon green food coloring, gel or paste preferred
Two 15-ounce jars smooth (not chunky) apricot jam
1½ pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 15-by-10-inch rimmed sheet pans (I used 9×12 ones) , and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the almond paste and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until you have fine crumbles. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and pulse until well mixed. Plop in the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until the batter is smooth. Sprinkle in salt, and mix. Sift in flour, and mix until just combined.

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until foamy. While whisking, slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and whisk until firm peaks form. Fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Divide batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one bowl plain, without any coloring. Add red food coloring to one bowl, stirring to make a deep-salmon color. Add green food coloring to last bowl, stirring to make a medium-green color. Spread batter into each of the prepared pans with a spatula. Bake, rotating pans to opposite racks, until cakes are cooked through and just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cakes cool completely on wire racks, then remove from pans.

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Trim each of the layers to even out the thickness of the cakes. Put the green cake layer back, cut side up, into one of the lined pans. Spread one jar of jam over the cake, almost all of the way to the edges. Place the plain layer of cake on top of the jam. Spread the remaining jar of jam almost all the way to the edges of the plain layer. Place the red layer on top of the ham, cut side up. Wrap the entire cake in plastic, and top with another pan, weighted with cans. Chill in refrigerator 4 hours or overnight.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Unwrap the cake, and place on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour and spread the chocolate over the top the cake, using a spatula to guide the chocolate over the top and down the sides of the cake. If the kitchen is cool, let the chocolate harden that way; if it is warm, clear a space in the refrigerator to place the cake and let the chocolate harden. When the chocolate is about halfway set, gently rake the topping with the tines of a fork or a dough scraper with dentals, starting from the end of the chocolate covering all the way to the other end, slightly undulating the lines as you move along. Repeat until all of the chocolate has indented stripes. Let the chocolate set completely.

Using a serrated knife, cut the set and decorated layers into three dozen rectangles, using the outer sides to form perfectly cut rectangles.

Coffeecake Conundrum

June 15, 2013

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The main issue I have with coffeecake is how delicious it is. It is pretty hard not to eat seconds or thirds. Lately we have been on a crumb coffeecake bender. I usually make my mom’s delicious sour cream coffee cake but this time I decided to venture out and try a new recipe she passed along. It is called a New York crumb cake and it is more crumbs than cake, my husband’s perfect ratio. Upon tasting it I was pretty stoked because it tastes just like Entenmann’s famous crumb cake, but instead of $6.99 it costs free ninety nine to make at home. Crumb cakes are easy to make and so incredibly tasty. So if you like to make stuff from scratch that tastes like a knockoff of the real thing or even better, then make this recipe!

New York Crumb Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons canola  or vegetable oil, plus more for pan
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

DIRECTIONS

  1. STEP 1

    Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.

  2. STEP 2

    Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

  3. STEP 3

    Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more. – Check this, mine was way underdone even with the cake tester clean at the second 10 minute mark. I think it needed an additional 5 or 10 minutes, or 25-30 mins total

  4. STEP 4

    Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut into 3-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Pizza Pie, that’s Amore!

May 18, 2013

pizza

My readers all know I have a go to recipe for pizza dough. But I was feeling like trying something new and I have been inspired lately by my new favorite show from the cooking channel, Extra Virgin. This dough was amazing! The Pizzas came out so nice and thin and crisp. The texture and flavor reminded me of when I was in Italy. My hubby says I should only use this recipe from now on.

Gabriele said: “In Italy, pizza dough can be found at almost every grocery store. If you have a favorite bakery where you go to buy your bread, they might also give you some, if you know them. The recipe that I have is one I have been using since I started making pizzas with my father. One of his dear friends who was a famous pizza maker in Florence passed the recipe on to us, and now I share it with you. It’s simple and works great, but don’t forget to check your local stores because you don’t really need to go the extra length to make your own dough. If you do want to make your own dough, you can always freeze it for later.” Here is Gabriele’s recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (.25-ounce) package dry active yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (about 105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup bread flour. Mix well and let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Whisk together the remaining 3 1/2 cups bread flour and salt in another bowl so it will be evenly distributed.

Once the yeast mixture is nice and bubbly and looks like foamy beer, add 3/4 cup cold water and olive oil. Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on and add the flour in increments.

Mix the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough starts creeping up the dough hook and comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough in a large bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Turn to coat all sides of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punchdough down, and let rise another hour.

Divide the dough into 4 equal disks. Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or heels of your hands (and a rolling pin, if you prefer) stretch the disks out to a 10-inch round.

Repeat with the remaining 3 pizza dough disks. Cook the pizzas at 500 degrees (he said 550 on the site but I did not want to go that hot) for about 10-12 mins, or in a brick oven, if you have one, maybe in my dreams!

Baking Bonanza

April 4, 2013

banana

I got home from work today and decided I was in the mood, to bake that is. Sometimes I think that might be even more exciting to my husband, as he loves my baking, haha! I didn’t try out anything new, just stuck to some trusty go to recipes I love to make. I love making my homemade easy pizza dough and so does the family. Best part was I had leftover  of my mom’s famous roasted sausage, peppers and onions, so I had a great topping to add.

Also, any time I have ripe bananas sitting around I can never just toss them, I always have to whip up my favorite banana bread. I don’t mean to be redundant but I recently noticed that I have had my blog for 3 years and I had not posted my banana bread recipe since 2010, so here it goes:

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread

Ingredients
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped or Chocolate chips
Directions
Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Cook Tara’s note: this recipe is super easy and moist and delicious, I used sour cream this time as I did not have creme fraiche and I always substitute chocolate chips instead of nuts, I am not a banana nut bread fan… oh and this was a top secret recipe from a bakery in Boston that was revealed on FN on Giada’s Weekend Getaways. A little schmear of Nutella makes anything hot out of the oven taste even better, BTW

Nutella + Brownies = the perfect marriage

February 23, 2013

brownies

I love when my friends and readers send me recipes. I have been wanting to try a suggestion for Nutella Brownies for some time now. There was no better time than my recent superbowl party. I figured that baking a 9×13 pan of brownies could be extremely dangerous when I am alone and vulnerable, so why not share. The brownies turned out great and everyone was happy to help me eat them. The texture of them was amazing, it was like a store bought brownie mix gooeyness combined with a raw brownie batter stickyness.

I have never used baking melts but I am a believer after trying them in this recipe. Also I have never seen a recipe with that much cocoa in it for brownies so I thought they may be too chocolately. GASP, is there such a thing you ask? The brownies did turn out very rich but not in a bad way, you could just grab a small slice and fill that sweet urge. If I made them again I might halve the recipe to make an 8×8 batch. So if you want to host the perfect wedding in your kitchen, join nutella and brownies, they make a great couple!

Nutella Brownies

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
10 ounce package Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Baking Melts (or chocolate chips)

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 baking dish.
In small saucepan over low heat, melt butter completely. Stir in sugar and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not allow sugar mixture to boil.
Remove from the heat and stir in the Nutella until well combined.
Pour butter mixture into a large bowl or stand mixer, beat in cocoa powder, eggs, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.
Stir in the flour and baking melts until just combined.
Spread into prepared pan (batter will be very thick and sticky) and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out mostly clean. The edges should be set and the center should still look slightly moist, but not uncooked. Cool on a wire rack.