Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Most Versatile Dough Ever (Breadsticks/Pizza Dough)

Rating: 5 stars
Prep Time: Minimal

This basic pizza dough recipe is adapted from the Betty Crocker cookbook. One batch, separated into two parts, makes two round pizzas. Or you can use all of the dough on a large rectangle pan to make delicious, fluffy breadsticks. The adaptability is endless—this recipe can be used for white pizza dough or wheat pizza dough, and the breadsticks are limited only by your imagination! Some of my favorite breadsticks: 1. All-white flour brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and fresh parmesan, baked till crispy and golden outside and white and fluffy inside (shown above.) 2. Half-wheat, half-white, brushed with butter and sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese (shown in the picture with the potato soup). You can also add your favorite combination of spices....something we do often!

Versatile Breadsticks/Pizza Dough

1 cup warm water
1 T yeast
1 t sugar

Combine these ingredients in medium-sized bowl. Let yeast sit for a minute to proof. Then add:

2 1/2 cups flour (sometimes it needs a little more, sometimes a little less)
1 t salt
2 T vegetable oil

Stir with one finger until flour is moistened and ingredients being to come together. Then use hands to knead dough into a smooth ball. Spray ball with vegetable oil spray, cover with a clean towel or napkin, and let stand at least 5 minutes. (Wheat dough takes longer to rise. Also, I usually raise the dough more for breadsticks than pizza, because I like thin pizza crust and fluffy breadsticks.)

For pizza: divide dough into 2 separate balls. Working dough gently with fingers, spread on 2 greased round pizza pans. Brush edges with olive oil. Top with desired toppings and bake at 425 for about 12 minutes.

For breadsticks: Working dough gently with fingers, spread dough on greased rectangular pan. Top as desired. Before baking, cut breadsticks in dough with pizza cutter. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apple Pancakes

Rating: 5 stars
Prep Time: Medium

1 egg
1 c. flour
1 c. milk
1 T. sugar
2 T. oil
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 medium apple, chopped finely

For topping:
Whipped cream OR next 3 ingredients
Approximately 1/3 cup whipping cream
2 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla

3-4 apples, sliced thinly
1 T. sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 T. butter

In medium frying pan, heat butter (over medium heat). Put topping apples in pan; sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Stir and cover; let this cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes and then switch to low heat until you are ready to use them. For whipped cream: combine all ingredients and mix on high until cream is fluffy.

For pancakes: Beat egg until fluffy. Add all other ingredients except chopped apple; stir until just mixed (don't overstir). Fold in apples, mix and fry on griddle or pan around 350ºF (surface will need to be greased if it's not already seasoned).

Top cooked pancakes with whipped cream and apples and enjoy!

This recipe is made possible by my brother Jared, who gave us an awesome griddle for our wedding present.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Black Bean Tortilla Soup

This is one of my favorite super-easy recipes. It comes together in exactly as long as it takes your chicken to boil! I usually boil the chicken separately and start the soup at the same time, so that when the chicken is done it can quickly be cubed and added to the soup and served immediately. It also can stand a lot of abuse. The last two times I've made it I have left out a crucial ingredient—the first time it was the chicken, the second time it was the tomato sauce! Both times we hardly even noticed!

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Prep Time: Very Easy!

3 cups chicken broth
3 cups beef broth
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 small can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 can black beans
2 chicken breasts, boiled and cubed

Sautee onion and pepper in butter. Combine all ingredients in large saucepan and heat over medium-high for 10-30 minutes, depending on how much time you have! Serve topped with cheddar cheese and tortilla chips. (And, if you're like Mahon, sour cream.)

Mother Hubbard Apple Salad

The other day I was desperate for some fresh fruit with dinner, but all I had was a handful of tart baking apples. After scouring my cupboards, I realized that I had absolutely none of the usual ingredients for apple dips or dressings, either, so I improvised. This is a very simple dip/dressing that turned out deliciously—I will definitely be making it again.

Rating: 5 Stars
Prep Time: Very Easy

Several tart apples, diced
1-2 ounces cream cheese, very soft
3 oz (1/2 container) fruit-flavored yogurt
1-2 tsp white sugar, depending on how tart your apples are
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Soften cream cheese and mix with yogurt. Pour into bowl of diced apples. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over top of salad; mix, and enjoy! With a little lemon juice added, this will refrigerate great (covered with plastic) and make a delicious breakfast snack!

Baked Potato Soup

This is one of the very first things I learned to cook as a
little girl! It is a Ray family favorite and now a Baldwin

family favorite, as well. Although it is called "Baked
Potato Soup," I actually prefer the potatoes boiled.
It's much faster and they have a smoother texture.
Rating: 1 million stars
Prep Time: Easy

Baked Potato Soup:
1/4 c. instant mashed potatoes
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
3-5 c. milk (depending on if you like your soup very thick or thinner)
3 lg. baked or boiled potatoes, diced
1/4 t. garlic pwdr.
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt (at least)

Combine mashed potatoes & broth. Melt butter in pan, mix in flour and cook till bubbly. Slowly whisk in milk. Add spices, then add broth to mixture. Let cook at a very low simmer 20-40 minutes. Top with cheese, chives, or crumbled bacon. (Or, if you're me, none of these!)

The breadsticks featured in this picture are my favorite (and extremely versatile) recipe, which I'll post later.

Freezer instructions: Prepare roux as instructed but add half the broth instead and thicken. Add mashed potatoes to the other half of the broth and combine with roux. Fold in cooked potatoes and freeze (will be very thick). Thaw on stovetop and add milk; cook for about half an hour.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Apple Harvest Coffee Cake

Rating: 5 stars
Prep Time: Easy

Recipe adapted from Johnny Appleseed Coffee Cake, found here.

This recipe calls for Bisquick, which I don't have . . . so I looked up a recipe for homemade Bisquick mix and improvised. This proportion makes almost exactly the amount called for in the recipe. It can also be quadrupled to make a lot, and frozen for later use. (I probably would have done that, except that we're running dangerously low on flour!)

2 cups flour
2 T baking powder
3/4 t salt
2 T sugar
1/4 c shortening

Mix first 4 ingredients together; cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. In separate bowl, mix:

2 cups Bisquick (or all but 2 T of mix listed above)
2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup milk (I think I did more than this - it was awfully thick)
1 cup peeled, finely chopped apple

Combine all ingredients but apple, beat vigorously 1/2 minute. Fold in apple; pour batter into greased 8 or 9-inch pan.

2 T bisquick
1/4 cup sugar
1 T cinnamon
2 T cold butter, sliced

Combine first 3 ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over coffee cake; bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Apple Pie

Rating: 5 stars
Prep Time: Easy

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Cookbook.

9-inch Pastry Crust:
(This recipe only makes one crust, so in order to do a lattice-top pie it must be doubled. I actually find it easier to just make it twice, since the dough is VERY flaky and so not really easy to divide into two balls without overworking the dough.)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water (I have never managed it with less than 4)

Combine flour and salt; cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle ice water, 1 T at a time, evenly over surface; stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Shape into a ball; cover and chill until ready to use (at least 30 minutes). Roll pastry to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. (I find that I have to have my surface more than "lightly floured" or else the dough sticks to the table and breaks when I try to remove it. If the dough is sticking to the table despite the flour, use a flat spatula to gently scrape it off the table. Usually this works just fine.) Fold in quarters, place in pie plate, and unfold. Trim excess pastry along edges. For lattice top: roll out second ball of pastry as directed; cut into one-inch strips. Weave in lattice over filled pie. Separate 1 egg yolk and beat slightly; brush over lattice with pastry brush. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Apple filling:

6 cups sliced apples (the recipe also says to peel them, but I actually didn't notice that until this very moment and have never peeled mine)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 T flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 T butter or margarine

Combine apple and lemon juice in large bowl. Combine next 4 ingredients. Spoon over apple mixture, tossing gently. Spoon filling evenly into pastry shell, and dot with butter. (Alternatively - if you are making the pie in stages, you can mix up the crust and the filling and put each of them in the fridge for a few hours. This marinates the apples and makes a nice sugary sauce... if you do that, leave out the butter.) Cover pie with lattice top. Cover edges of pastry with aluminum foil. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 and bake 50 more minutes. Dish up and enjoy!