Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Orange Frog Eye" Jello Salad

This isn't actually frog eye salad, but it's close enough to make kids think it is (pineapple, orange, coconut).  And since they *like* frog eye, that's what we called it.  ;>

1 8oz cream cheese
1 small box of lemon jello
1 cup boiling water
2 ice cubes
1 20oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 14oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained (halved grapes would be a good sub)
1/2 to 3/4 cup coconut flakes
1 8oz container Cool Whip

Whip the cream cheese.

Dissolve jello in boiling water, then add 2 ice cubes.  Add to cream cheese.

Add drained pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, coconut and stir until combined.

Chill until partially set, then fold in Cool Whip.  [I let it set overnight and added the Cool Whip the next day before serving…this worked fine.]

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Six Week Bran Cereal Muffins

This muffin batter throws together in a few minutes and stores well for 6 weeks.  Bake as many or as few muffins as you like.  Just make sure you give the batter 8 hours in the fridge before baking your first batch.

5 1/2 cups all-natural bran cereal (I used All Bran and it's just about the entire box)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat germ
2 1/2 cups white sugar
5 teaspoons baking soda
1 pinch salt
4 cups buttermilk (make your own by adding 4 Tbsp vinegar to 4 scant cups milk, let sit for 10 min)
1 cup neutral oil (like canola or vegetable)
4 large eggs, beaten

Optional additional ingredients for baking:
*frozen berries, small pieces of frozen fruit
*chocolate chips
*raw sugar for muffin tops

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until everything is moist. Scrape the muffin mix into a large container with tight fitting lid. Label the container with the date the batter was mixed (or the date it will expire).  Store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.  Wait at least 8 hours before baking first batch.

To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Add any fruit or choc chips to the portion of batter you are going to bake.  Spray muffin tin with olive oil or non-stick spray.  Fill cups 2/3 full.  If desired, sprinkle lightly with course sugar.  Bake for 15 - 20 minutes for standard size muffins (10-12 for mini). Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow muffins to rest in the tin for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.  These muffins taste best when they are cold from the fridge!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Overnight Baked French Toast

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

French Beef Stew

I threw together a new stew tonight and it tastes very much like beef bourguignon without the work. Don't get me wrong - BB is totally worth the work - but not something I have time for very often.

French Beef Stew

1 lb stew meat, 1/2" cubes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
Dash of cayenne 
1 1/2 Tbsp Beef Base 
1/2 cup red cooking wine
4 cups hot water
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp cold water
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
3-4 red potatoes, 1/2" cubes
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp butter 
1 onion
4 mushrooms (baby bellos, sliced)
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

Place flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne in a bag, shake and coat cubed meat.

Brown the meat on med-high heat with olive oil. I use a cast iron ceramic pot.

Drain the excess oil. Add cooking wine and water to de-glaze the pot. Add beef base and remaining spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for one hour.

Combine cornstarch with water and stir into pot. Add carrot, potato, celery, Worcestershire sauce, and continue to simmer for another hour.

In a skillet, sauté sliced onion and mushroom until caramelized, then add to pot for the last 15 minutes.

I noticed a big difference in the tenderness of the meat between 2 hrs and 2.5 hrs simmering. So, if you're not in a rush, give it the extra 30 min before serving. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Belgian Waffles

I got lucky with an internet search for a light, fluffy belgian waffle.  This one comes from and is exactly what I was looking for - just a hint of sugar and spice.  I made one minor change by cutting the cinnamon in half, because I only enjoy a 'hint' of cinnamon.  The ingredient list can look intimidating, but it's all stuff you have on hand, and honestly take about 2-3 minutes to toss together.  Love these!

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cooking oil (canola)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
a pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp if you prefer)

1. Preheat waffle iron
2. Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth.
3. Spray waffle iron w/ non-stick spray before each waffle.
4. Pour approx. 1/2 cup batter on hot iron and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, or to your liking.
5. Serve hot and fresh with berries and whipped cream.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Easy Artisan White Bread

Easy Artisan White Bread - Piseco Baking Company

3 cups lukewarm water
6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups (2 lbs) All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast (SAF)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl or food-safe plastic bucket, using Danish whisk/dough hook.

Mix and stir everything together to make very sticky, rough dough. Or, in a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with beater blade foe 30 to 60 seconds.  Make sure there are no dry spots.

Next, let the dough rise. Cover bowl or bucket with a lid or plastic wrap.  (Remember, your container must be at least 6-quart capacity). Let dough rise at room temp for 2 hours.  (If you are in a hurry you can skip this step and put it right in the fridge, but leaving it at too temp for 2 hours is best case scenario). Store the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before baking. Can be stored up to 7 days.  The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it will get. Over the course of the first day or so, you will see it rise and then fall.

On baking day, grease your hands and pull off 1/3 of the dough or a ball roughly the size of a softball. Form dough into a round ball or longer log.  (You could also divide into 9 large rolls).

Stretch dough into a nice tight ball, leaving seams underneath.  Will look like a ball of freshly pulled mozzarella.  Place dough on parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheet (jelly roll pan). Sift a light coating of flour over the top.  This will keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.

Let the dough rise for about 45-60 minutes. It won't appear to rise upwards that much, but it will settle and expand slightly.  Preheat your over to 450 and place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack. Have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.

When you are ready to bake, slash the bread 2 to 3 times with a sharp blade, making a cut about 1/2" deep.

Place the bread in the oven and carefully pour the hot water into the pack on the rack beneath.
Quickly close the over door.

Bake bread for 25 - 35 minutes, until it is deep golden brown.  Lots of steam will escape oven when the door is opened, so be careful.

Remove bread from oven, and cool on a rack.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gwen's Soft Pretzels

I made a new friend today, who recently moved here from NY, where she owned a bakery.  Her name is Gwen and she makes a KILLER soft pretzel!

Dough -
61 ounces all-purpose flour or approximately 17 cups
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons canola oil
4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons instant yeast (instant is better than active)
4 cups water

Topping - (the topping is what replaces 'boiling' and gives them the brown color and the 'snap')
3/4 cup water
8 teaspoons sugar
8 teaspoons baking soda

Optional - pretzel salt, cinnamon sugar, melted butter

Mix and knead the dough ingredients together until dough is cohesive and fairly smooth.  It should be slightly sticky; if it seems dry, sprinkle it with water.  Cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Turn dough out onto light greased surface, fold over a few times to gently deflate it (get the air out, but don't knead), then divide into 4 ounce pieces. Roll each piece into 18 to 24 inch ropes.

In shallow bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. Shake rope into a pretzel, then dip into topping. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Bake in a 400* oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and brush with melted butter, dip in cinnamon sugar is desired.

*Do not use table salt for topping on pretzels. Use only pretzel or coarse salt, as table salt will soak in while baking.

*This recipe can be halved or quartered, as desired.

*If not measuring flour by weight, hold back 2 cups flour and used to achieve desired consistency.

Everything Topping
Sesame seed
Poppy seed
Minced onion
Minced garlic

For 1/2 recipe of dough:
30.5 ounces all-purpose flour or approximately 8.5 cups
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 tablespoons instant yeast (instant is better than active)
2 cups water