Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wheat Blender Pancakes

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Easy

1 cup milk
1 cup wheat kernels
1 1/2 t salt
2 T oil
2 T honey
2 eggs
2 t baking powder

Preheat griddle or pan. In blender, combine milk and wheat kernels and blend on high for 3-5 minutes. Add in other ingredients and blend for another minute or two, this time on low. Pour onto griddle and cook (you want to flip your pancakes when the bubbles get big and the first few start to pop). The end! These are delicious and have a great texture—and they're healthy too!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Heart Attack Mashed Potatoes

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Super easy

Too late for Thanksgiving but in time for Christmas, I present you a recipe (sort of) for the best mashed potatoes EVER. These are the kinds that will have you sneaking helpings from the bowl and licking your plate when you're done. My only problem in sharing this recipe is that this is one of those dishes that I don't really USE a recipe for—it's all done "a little of this, a little of that." So I guess you could say it's more of a "method." Either way, it's easy, and you'll never be able to go back to plain-with-butter potatoes again!

Sour cream
Cream Cheese
Salt and pepper

Peel, chop and boil potatoes until soft. Add butter, sour cream, cream cheese, and milk (I usually start with about 2 T of the first three ingredients, and 1 T of milk). Using hand beater, whip potatoes until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If needed, add more sour cream/butter/cream cheese—I think I always have a little more sour cream than anything else, and a little less milk (you don't want potato soup!). Enjoy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Soft Pretzels

Rating: 5 Delicious Stars
Prep Time: Easy-Medium
Source: Adapted from my friend Sacha

I LOVE soft pretzels. I mean, they are a combination of two of my favorite things: bread and salt. What could go wrong? I even have a favorite soft pretzel vendor... weird, huh! In high school, I used to make soft pretzels all the time, but I fell out of the habit after I went to college. The recipe I used required a long rising time, which isn't difficult, but I'm all about instant gratification—I want snacks that don't take a huge amount of foresight! So when I found a recipe that required NO rising time, I knew I had to try it. This recipe is for non-risen pretzels, but if you would prefer to let yours rise, simply allow to rise 2-2 1/2 hours after kneading dough. With this method, you can skip the boiling water bath and simply brush pretzels with warm water that has baking soda in it, then put them right in the oven.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 T yeast
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 1/2-5 cups flour (to get a typical mall-type pretzel you will need to use all white, but you can substitute about half wheat if you prefer)
Baking soda
Egg white
Kosher or other coarse salt

Preheat oven to 475 (be sure to do this at the beginning, cause it takes awhile!). Grease cookie sheet. Fill a medium saucepan with at least 3 inches of water and add about 1 tsp. baking soda for each cup of water. (I usually just estimate). Put on stove to boil. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a normal bowl if you're feeling really buff), combine water, yeast, and sugar. Add flour (I usually put in about 4 cups, then let it mix for a minute, then add more if it needs it) and knead until you have a soft, elastic dough that isn't sticky to the touch (if you use half wheat flour, it will be slightly sticky, but not much). 

On a clean countertop, pull off small sections of dough (mine are usually about the size of a clementine or a bit smaller) and roll into long snakes—yep, just like you used to do with playdough. For best results, you want  your "snakes" to be about half an inch in diameter. Cross ends to form a traditional pretzel shape, and press dough together in the three places that it meets (this will keep it from all falling apart in the boiling water bath). To get that perfect pretzel shape, slip two fingers through the top loops of pretzel and carry it over to the water bath that way. Gently boil for about 30 seconds, then remove and place on cookie sheet. When all of your pretzels are done, brush with beaten egg white (if you don't have an egg you can use a cornstarch wash—1 T warm water to 1 T cornstarch—but it isn't quite as good for this) and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until pretzels are a deep golden brown and no longer doughy on the inside. Let cool a few minutes before trying to get them off the pan—in my experience, they come off better when they're cooler. Before eating, brush warm pretzel with butter (and if you're me, sprinkle MORE salt on it!). Enjoy! This recipe would also make great bagels (just shape your snakes into circles, boil them, and omit the salt on top).

For other pretzel flavors: I like my pretzels as salty as possible, but if you prefer other pretzel flavors, feel free to switch things up! For cinnamon sugar bagels, omit the salt, brush with butter when they're out of the oven, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. For parmesan pretzels, omit the salt and sprinkle with parmesan after doing the egg white wash. You can really do anything you like with these - use your imagination!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

(Our granola bars all wrapped up and ready in what has become the official granola bar basket!)

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Easy
Source: My friend Stacy

I've been wanting to do homemade granola bars for months, but just couldn't find a recipe I liked the look of. The one that came most highly recommended used an ENTIRE CAN OF SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK to hold it all together. Now, I like sweetened condensed milk as much as the next person (almost as much as Winnie the Pooh), but let me tell you something about the sticky stuff. It has 22 grams of sugar...per tablespoon. So, for obvious reasons, I opted against that recipe. When I found this granola bar recipe on my friend's blog, I was so excited. I made it for the first time last week, and we're already on our second batch! These make great take-along snacks for class/work/gym/errand-running/whatever. They're also delicious for breakfast. And unlike the sweetened condensed milk recipe, these granola bars only have roughly 10 grams of sugar per bar (if you cut them into 15 squares like I do).

1/4 cup sugar (I prefer brown)
1/4 cup maple syrup (I'd also like to try molasses, since I don't have real maple syrup and my fake stuff isn't very healthy!)
1/4 cup honey
2 T peanut butter
1 egg
1 T milk
1 t vanilla
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t allspice (I use nutmeg because I have no allspice; it gives my bars a nice autumnal flavor!)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups rice krispie cereal
1/3 cup chocolate chips (I like to chop mine up a bit so that the chocolate is more evenly distributed.... you could also use mini chocolate chips) - The chocolate is technically optional, but what's a granola bar without a little chocolate?

Anything else you want—dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc. I typically use a mix of sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds.

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, combine first seven ingredients and mix well. In smaller bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice/nutmeg. If you're lazy like me and don't want to use two bowls, here's my cheat: I pour the flour on top of the wet mix in one corner, and then add the soda and spices on top of the flour. I gently mix all the dry things in without incorporating the wet mix, so that the soda and spices are mostly blended through the flour. Then I integrate it all together. Pour dry mix into wet mix and stir to combine. Add oats, cereal, chocolate, and extras. Mix well. Press into greased 9x13 pan and, using a sharp knife, cut into 15 squares. Cook for 18-20 minutes (in my oven it's exactly 18). If your oven is cheap like mine and cooks unevenly, you might want to turn the pan halfway through cooking so that the bars are evenly cooked and not overdone on one side. Granola bars will look light brown and toasted when they're ready. They'll still be very soft while they're hot, so don't take that as a sign that they need more cooking! Let cool completely in pan. Once bars are cool, re-cut along the lines you put in at the beginning and wrap individual bars in plastic wrap. Enjoy! Try not to eat them too quickly....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Whole Wheat Crackers

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Easy

One of my favorite snacks of all time is saltine crackers with cheese and some fruit. I don't usually buy crackers, though—they're cheap, but even cheap things add up, and they're so not good for you! I never seem to be able to justify spending a few dollars on totally empty calories. However, I'm trying to work on having more quick snack-friendly foods in my house, and so I decided to take a shot at making my own crackers. There are tons of basic recipes floating around on the internet. This is the one I used—it's super easy and very customizable. You can add herbs for a savory snack, or honey or sugar for a sweeter cracker. I also want to try adding some parmesan cheese sometime. The options are endless! I put sesame seeds on top of mine, because I love sesame seed crackers, but next time I would add them in the beginning with the flour because they do have a tendency to fall off the dough! 

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white unbleached* flour
3/4 t salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3-3/4 cup water
Salt for sprinkling
Other desired herbs or spices

Preheat oven to 350. In medium bowl, mix flours and salt. Mix in oil and water with wooden spoon. I found that after the oil and water were mostly integrated, it was easiest to use my hands to knead the rest of the dough together. Knead for a minute or two; dough should be supple but not sticky or wet to the touch.

Divide into 3 sections. On lightly floured surface, roll dough out as thinly as possible. Transfer to cookie sheet (it sounds difficult, but it was actually pretty easy to pick the dough up and slide it onto a sheet). Repeat with other two balls. If you don't have three cookie sheets, you can do them in batches in the oven. Using a fork, prick a few holes in each cracker.

Using pizza cutter or pastry roller, score or cut crackers (my original recipe said just to score them, but I honestly didn't think it made any difference whatsoever) into desired shapes. I just did squares and rectangles this time, but you could also use a cup to cut round crackers—next time I have to do a snack plate for a party, that's my plan! Sprinkle salt over dough. Bake for 10-15 minutes; when the outside edges of the dough start to turn golden, your crackers are done. The longer they bake, the drier they will be; we thought that the best time was when just the edges were golden, so the crackers in the center were still a little more moist (but crunchy). Let cool. If you scored before baking instead of cutting, break crackers along scored edges. Enjoy! They are delicious with cheese and like I said, this recipe is VERY customizable.

*This recipe is fine for bleached flour too. I always use unbleached because it's typically the same price, contains more of the wheat protein, and doesn't have as many harmful additives. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chiles Rellenos

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Easy

I had this meal this summer in Utah and loved it! I knew Mahon would like it too, so once I got back I made it for him. We've now had it a few times, and I can tell it is one that will become a favorite in our rotation!

Crock pot roast
Mild long green peppers, such as Anaheim or banana (the larger the better)
1 egg
1 T flour
Monterey Jack, Mozarella, or Parmesan cheese
Oil for sauteeing

In crock pot, cook roast according to your crock pot's settings with about 1/4-1/2 cup water and your desired blend of Mexican-esque spices. When roast is well-done and falling apart, shred and set aside. In bowl, combine egg and flour. Wash peppers and slice off tops and bottoms. Slice down the middle to open them, and remove seeds and membranes. Fill peppers with shredded beef and cheese (stuff them as full as possible, but not to the point where the stuff is falling out, or it will make your life harder during the next step). Heat skillet to medium-high and drizzle with oil or butter. With pastry brush, coat outside of peppers with egg mixture. Place in hot pan and fry until egg is cooked and pepper is tender (1-2 minutes). Transfer peppers to baking dish and sprinkle with more cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese starts to brown. Enjoy! We had this tonight for dinner along with roasted chickpeas and apples and let me tell you, we were licking our plates!

Cindy's Fresh Pasta

Rating: 5 stars... we make it every week or two!
Prep time: Medium-hard (if you have a pasta machine it would be a lot easier)

I love pasta, and I love cooking, so it was only a matter of time before I tried making my own pasta, right? It is a HUGE hit with us—it's become one of our regular meals and we have it every week or two. I almost always serve it with a simplified version of the cream sauce from this recipe. The homemade pasta with that sauce is hearty enough that I usually just serve it with that and veggies on the side. Fresh pasta definitely takes more time and effort than store-bought, but the taste is so unbeatable!!! We make a huge batch and it never lasts more than 2 meals!

5 regular eggs
3 1/2 cups flour (I do at least half whole-wheat, it's so much yummier!)
Dash of salt
Olive oil

In bowl of stand mixer* with dough hook attachment, combine eggs, flour, and salt. Let mix on low speed until everything is integrated. At this point you will start to have a dough ball forming on your hook, but it will be fairly dry/crumbly and there will be a lot of crumbs left in the bottom of the bowl. Slowly drizzle olive oil in until a lot of the crumbs are moistened and integrated into the dough ball (I usually end up with about 2 tsp olive oil). If you don't want olive oil (which enhances the flavor), just use water. Let mix for another moment to get the olive oil worked into the dough. There will still be a few crumbs in the bottom of your bowl and your dough will still be fairly dry. SLOWLY (you don't want much water) drizzle water into bowl ONLY until the rest of the crumbs are moistened and integrated into the dough bowl (it usually works best to drizzle a little water, wait a few minutes, add a bit more, etc.—if you get too much water, your dough will be very sticky and tough to roll out). If you do end up with too much water and sticky dough, add a tablespoon or two extra flour and let it integrate into your dough ball. You are going for a dough that is not at all sticky—it should be sticking together, but fairly dry to the touch. If you don't get this right the first time, don't worry; it took me a few times to figure out the right consistency for the dough. 

Once everything is added, allow the dough to knead in your mixer for about 5 minutes. Once it is done kneading, remove the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes (if you skip this step, your pasta won't work). After dough has rested, fill the biggest pot you have with salted water and start bringing it to a boil. On lightly floured surface, roll dough as thin as you can get (if you have a pasta maker, great, use it!). It's tough to get this really thin by hand, especially if you add wheat flour. Ours is usually pretty, um, robust. ;) Using a pizza cutter or pastry wheel, cut pasta into desired shape (because our dough is fairly thick, like I said, I usually try to cut it into very thin strips). Do not let your strands drape over each other, or they will start to stick and mold together. We usually will divide the dough into 2 portions and roll it out on 2 separate surfaces, and just leave the noodles flat until we're ready to put them in the pot. When your water is ready, gently lift your cut noodles (a flat plastic spatula or pastry scraper can be helpful if they are stuck to your rolling surface) and toss into water. They will float to the top fairly quickly, so I find it helpful to stir the pot often to make sure noodles boil evenly. The boiling time will depend on the thickness of your noodles; ours usually take 6-10 minutes. I test the noodles frequently. When they are cooked through to your satisfaction, strain them and add to sauce. We usually put half of the noodles in cream sauce to eat that night and the next day for lunch, and drizzle the rest of the noodles with olive oil (to keep them from sticking to each other) and put in the fridge for a meal in the next few days. Depending on how hungry we are, this recipe usually provides enough pasta for 2 meals (including leftovers). I won't lie, though, when we make this, we eat a ton—it's delicious! It definitely is a more time-intensive meal, but on a day when you can spare a few extra minutes in the kitchen, it is SO worth it. We make this meal as a team—I try to get the pasta dough all put together and resting by the time Mahon gets home from work, then he rolls it out and I cut it.

*If you don't have a mixer: Pour flour out in a mound on a clean countertop. Create a well in the center of flour; add eggs and salt. With your hands, slowly work the flour into the eggs (starting from the inside of the well and working your way outward). Once everything is combined, add a little bit of olive oil and/or water to help dough hold together (without getting sticky). Knead dough for 10 minutes, cover with plastic, and let rest 20 minutes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chicken Fajitas

Rating: 5 (million) stars
Prep time: Easy (it is less easy, but yummier, if you pair this meal with fresh Flour Tortillas)

This has been our favorite new meal this summer. We can't get enough of it! It's also good with a bit of zucchini or yellow squash. 

2 chicken breasts (marinated with Soy-Citrus Marinade)
1 bell pepper
1 medium onion
2 large carrots
Olive oil

Heat outdoor grill or stovetop grilling pan (depending on the weather!). In medium skillet, heat about 1 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Chop pepper and onion into large pieces and add to pan. Peel carrots and julienne and add to pan. Season with salt, black pepper, and chili powder. Sautee pepper and onion until tender and browned. While pepper and onion are cooking, grill chicken until cooked through and slightly blackened. When chicken is done, remove and slice into thin strips. Fill tortillas with a few pieces of chicken and some of the pepper/onion mixture. Top with desired toppings (i.e. cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, etc.). Roll up and enjoy!

Soy-Citrus Marinade

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Easy, as long as you remember to thaw the chicken first!

There are a lot of delicious marinades out there that combine soy sauce with fresh citrus. I have always been a fan. But here is a recipe for those of us that don't always have fresh lemons on hand! This makes about enough marinade for 2 large chicken breasts.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
3 T lemon juice
1 T orange juice concentrate
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t chili powder
1/4 t black pepper
Water (if you plan to marinade more than 2 hours)

In plastic bag or suitable container, combine all ingredients and mix. Add thawed chicken breast(s), making sure to coat both sides. Marinade 30 minutes-2 hours (or 12-24 hours if your marinade contains water), turning chicken once or twice. Grill in hot grilling pan or outdoor grill. Enjoy in Chicken Fajitas, stir-fry, or alone!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jam Tips

I get asked a lot about my freezer jam recipe. Well, let me tell you—it's easy. I buy the No Sugar Needed Sure-Jell pectin (in the pink box) and use the Quick and Easy Freezer Jam recipes included. Contrary to the label on the box, you do need sugar, but it's a lot less than a typical recipe. The directions are given in minute detail; as long as you follow them to the letter, you will get perfect jam every time! For my last two batches of jam, I also went off the beaten path a little and substituted some mild-flavored clover honey for some of the sugar. (I would have done all, but I didn't want the honey to overpower the fruit. As it is, it adds a nice sweetness and mellow undertone.) In both jam batches I made (strawberry-raspberry, and peach) I put in half the sugar called for. Because honey is slightly sweeter than sugar, I didn't put in quite as much honey as sugar; the general rule of thumb is to replace sugar with honey at a 1 cup to 3/4 cup ratio. So for a jam that called for 3 cups sugar, I did 1 1/2 cups sugar and about 1 1/8 cup honey. For a jam that called for 2 1/2 cups sugar, I did 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1 cup honey. The only other change I made was to decrease the water by 1/4 cup and boil the honey/sugar/pectin/water mixture for 3 minutes instead of 1, to account for the extra moisture in the honey. Both jams ended up with a great taste and a nice firm set. So go out and buy yourself some fruit and No Sugar Needed Sure-Jell! Freezer jam is really one of the easiest recipes around!

There is one other issue with jam... the issue of texture. As any jam maker will tell you, the texture of your jam is very important! The fruit shouldn't be pureed; you should have visible chunks in your jam. (Yum...)

HOWEVER, I personally don't agree with the way that the package tells you to prepare your fruit (berries: mashed, fruit: finely chopped). I like chunks of fruit in my jam, but I also like my jam to have a good amount of spreadability. What I've found works best for me is this—for most fruits, I will take about 3/4 of the fruit called for and put it in my blender on the lowest setting (on mine it is called "grate"). This setting evenly chops your fruit without grinding it too finely. It gives you nice fruit chunks that are not too big, not too small, and fairly even in size. (The exception to this rule is raspberries, which really are by nature pretty mushy and so can be smashed with a masher and come out just fine.) Once the fruit in the blender is all evenly chopped, I put it into a 4-cup glass measure or small bowl. (It may help to process your fruit in smaller batches if your blender is having a hard time with the full 3/4 amount.)

Then I take the last 1/4 of my fruit and put it in the blender on the highest setting. This will finely puree the fruit into a smoothie-like consistency. Once this part is all pureed, I pour it into the glass measure along with the rest of the fruit and mix it up. Now, when I mix this with my pectin/sugar mixture, I'll get a perfectly-textured jam that has lots of fruit chunks but also a very good spreadability! (This method is also good for fruits like plums and peaches that have a lot of hairy fiber in them... it helps separate the fibers so that you don't have stringy jam that is difficult to spread.)

So there you have it... Cindy's Science of Jam Preparation. This may not be the way that works best for you, but as for me and my house, this makes the best jam on earth!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cindy's Honey-Whole Wheat Bread

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Rating: 5 hefty stars!
Source: Me!

It's jam season. Do you know what that means? I want to eat jam. All. The. Time. And, though my awesome 5-minute boule is good for many things, it's not a fabulous bread to have with jam. I like to have a good whole wheat sandwich bread on hand for my jam sessions. The problem? Until this week, I didn't have the "perfect" whole wheat bread recipe—my basic Whole Wheat Sandwich bread took too long and wasn't amenable to storing (which means no fresh bread every morning!), and my 100% Whole Wheat sandwich bread had too many ingredients and wasn't quite what I was looking for anyway.

Enter my decision to try to make my OWN 5-minute bread stored dough recipe! I've spent enough time reading and making the recipes from "Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes A Day" that I figured I had a pretty good handle on what elements were essential to the stored dough process. Accordingly, I took my beloved Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread and tweaked it until I ended up with what is, in my opinion, the BEST jam-friendly bread EVER! So here, for your culinary pleasure, is my very own bread recipe.

Cindy's 5-Minute Honey-Whole Wheat Bread

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T yeast
1 generous T salt
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4-2 1/2 cups white flour* (see note at bottom)

Warm water
Oatmeal, seeds, any desired toppings

In a large bowl or stand mixer bowl, combine water, yeast, and salt. Add oil and honey and mix a little bit. Add in flour (holding back the last 1/4 cup to make sure your dough is not too dry) and mix ingredients together. Dough should NOT form a ball, and should still be fairly sticky, but you want it to be oozy, not runny! If needed, add more flour. Transfer into a 5-quart plastic container (or a metal bowl lined with wax paper/freezer paper/plastic wrap). Obviously, if you have a mixing bowl that is at least 5 quarts and plastic, you can do this all in one bowl! Cover with something that is not airtight (but DON'T use a towel, or the dough will stick to it... trust me!) and let rise for 2 hours on a draft-free countertop. At the end of the 2 hours, you can shape a loaf or store in the fridge. When you are ready to shape a loaf: Grease loaf pan. Sprinkle flour liberally on top of dough, and get plenty of flour on your hands. Remove a section of dough about the size of a canteloupe. Work into a loose ball (dough will not hold shape very well; that's okay). Set in bread pan. Turn oven to 375 degrees. While oven is heating, let dough rest for about 40 minutes if it has been refrigerated (if it hasn't been it doesn't really need any resting time at all). Just before baking, combine about 1 t. water with 1/2 t. cornstarch. Brush over top of loaf. Sprinkle with desired toppings (oatmeal, seeds, nuts, whatever you feel like—my favorite combination right now is flax & poppy seeds.) With serrated knife, slash loaf three times diagonally across the top. Place on top rack in oven and bake 40-50 minutes, until the top of the loaf is a deep brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool on a rack. Enjoy with butter and your homemade freezer jam! Now pardon me, I have to go eat the rest of the loaf clean my kitchen.

Yield: I like to use medium-sized loaf pans, which take a fair bit of dough. I estimate that this amount of dough will probably make 2 medium loaves and 1 small loaf, depending on how much dough you use. The recipe can easily be doubled if you have a big enough container (10 quarts or more).

*Extra healthy tip: I have also made this bread recipe using nearly all wheat flour (5 1/2 cups wheat, 1/2-1 cup white) and it works great, especially if I give the dough a little extra resting time before baking it. After much experimentation, I think my favorite flour combo is: 5 1/2 cups of wheat flour, 1/2 cup white flour, and 1/2 cup rolled oats. DELICIOUS!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5-Minute French Boulè

Prep time: So easy you won't believe you're making bread
Source: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day, heavily revised by me

Not only is this the easiest bread recipe I've ever tried, but it is also THE MOST DELICIOUS. And the best part about this technique is that you can have fresh bread every single day! Also, don't be overwhelmed by the amount of text in this recipe. I've tried to include all of the tips and tricks I've learned in several years of making this recipe so that it's very easy to get a perfect batch of bread on your first try.

Basic Loaf (French Boule)

3 cups warm water
.5-1.5 T yeast
1 1/2 T kosher salt (a heaping tablespoon of table salt)
6 1/2 cups flour (I like to use 3 1/2 cups wheat, 3 cups white)

A note on yeast and flour in this recipe: The original Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipe calls for 1.5 T yeast per batch. However, after making this recipe for several years, I've started decreasing the yeast in most batches I make and increasing the rising time. Most similar high-moisture bread recipes I've seen use only half a tablespoon of yeast and allow the bread to rise overnight. In my opinion, less yeast and a longer rise time makes for a yummier, more sophisticated crumb, so I typically do .5-1 tablespoon yeast and allow it to rise longer (usually 4-6 hours for 1 tablespoon and overnight for half a tablespoon, though if my kitchen is really warm 6 or so hours is usually enough for the smaller amount too). If I'm in a hurry, I still use the higher amount of yeast and a 2-hour rising time.

The original recipe calls for all unbleached white flour. However, since we're big whole-wheat bread fans over here, over the years I've steadily increased the amount of wheat flour in my recipe. The amount of wheat flour that I can get away with without it resulting in a dense and heavy loaf varies greatly depending on the kind of flour used; if I use freshly-ground white wheat flour I can substitute all of the white flour for wheat, but if I use store-bought red wheat flour I can only get away with half to two-thirds. I try to make sure that my wheat flour batches have plenty of time to double in their initial rise, and I typically rest the refrigerated dough longer than white flour (40-60 minutes verses 20-40). Personally, Mahon and I have both come to prefer the taste and texture of this recipe with wheat flour, and it's still light and delicious with a perfectly crisp crust.

How to make the bread:

In a large (5 quart) container, mix together all ingredients with a wooden spoon. That's all you have to do: mix gently until all the ingredients are combined and evenly moist. It will be very "gooey" and moist and not at all like a typical bread dough. Then stick your spoon in the sink, cover your bowl with something breathable (I typically do plastic wrap or tin foil, and I punch holes in the top of the covering—I tried a towel at first but my dough rose so high it stuck to the towel and that was a pain to clean off!) and let sit in a draft-free place for 2+ hours (see rising note above), until it's doubled in bulk

After that time, you can work with the dough (although it's easier to shape if it's been refrigerated first). Pull or cut a section of dough that's 1-1.5 pounds (about the size of a large grapefruit to the size of a canteloupe). Gently fold the edges of the dough under until you have a ball. (If your dough is really wet, you won't be able to do this; you can either add more flour or just plop some dough onto your pan. It's still delicious, but not quite as pretty.) Allow your dough to rise for at least 30 minutes (it's impossible to over-raise this dough, so feel free to leave it out a few hours, though it will lose a lot of its shape). 20 minutes before you are ready to put it in the oven, turn your oven on to 450 degrees. Place a dish with a lid (it can be an enamel-coated cast iron pot like Le Creuset, an oven-safe nonstick pot, or a glass or ceramic dish with a lid—I have been using an oblong vintage Pyrex baking dish and it's worked great) on the top rack of the oven and allow to heat with the oven for 20 minutes (it's important to heat it this long, or your dough will stick). 

After this preheat is done, slash your loaf with a serrated knife (you can slash it with an X, a tic-tac-toe, or with diagonal lines running in one direction) and carefully lift loaf into your prepared pan. Cover with lid (you might be able to use a non-lidded dish and cover it with foil, but I haven't tried this yet) and cook for 20 minutes. Remove bread from dish (it should release very easily) and allow to cook for 15-20 more minutes, just sitting alone on the oven rack (it will be plenty done by this stage—now you just want to brown the crust). Remove from oven and allow to cool almost all the way before cutting. (I usually can't resist, and so I slice off one of the heels and eat it hot with butter, but you don't want to cut off more than that because the bread actually finishes cooking as it cools.)

If you don't have a lidded dish to use, that's okay! Cook it free-form on a regular baking sheet, and during the oven preheat time put a metal cake pan (empty) on the bottom rack of the oven. When you put the bread in, pour a cup of hot water into the cake pan and then close the oven door right away. Bake 35-40 minutes.

One other thing—you may be tempted to brush the top of the boule with egg white/oil/something else, like you do in many bread recipes to create a better crust. I did that for awhile, but once I stopped doing it I realized how utterly stupid that was. Trust this bread: it will make you the tastiest, chewiest, yummiest crust you've ever tasted, no help needed.

AN IMPORTANT TIP: I learned from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day that the proper way to store a crusty bread is NOT in a plastic bag. The best way to store crusty bread, it turns out, is to simply place it on the cutting board with the cut side down. I was a little skeptical of this idea at first, but it works GREAT. This bread is amazing the first day, pretty darn good the second day, edible the third day, and ready to be made into bread crumbs the fourth day—if it's still around at that point!

A quick note on larger loaves— I have only used the method above with loaves that are fairly small (about 1-2 pounds). For a much larger loaf, you will want to reduce the heat a bit (probably to 400 or 425) and up the cooking time, so that the center of the loaf has a chance to cook before the crust browns too much.

Old-Fashioned Whole Wheat Bread

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Not hard, but time-consuming

This is soft-crusted wheat sandwich bread like your mom/grandma/Relief Society president used to make. Although I've lately gone to using the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day method, I still have a soft spot in my heart for this recipe.

3 cups warm water
1 T yeast
1 T salt
Generous 1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
Approximately 8 cups flour (I typically do about 6 wheat, 2 white—my store-bought wheat is too coarse to use 100% whole wheat and get a proper raise)
Sunflower seeds, rolled oats, flax seeds, poppy seeds or any combination of preferred grains & seeds (optional)
Egg white (if you use seeds)

Preheat oven to 350. In mixer with dough hook attachment, combine water and yeast. Add 3 cups wheat flour, salt, oil, and honey, and mix on low speed until combined. If desired, add a small handful of sunflower seeds to dough at this point. Slowly add in the rest of flour until your dough is no longer sticky and forms a ball on the dough hook, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. (A note on breadmaking: the flour measurement is NOT an exact science. Depending on the temperature, humidity, and other factors, you may need more or less flour. Once your dough ball is pulling away from the sides of the bowl and you can touch the dough without getting it all over your finger, then you have added enough flour.) Turn to a higher speed and let the mixer knead the dough for about 6-8 minutes. Remove dough from hook and form into a ball; spray with cooking oil (making sure to coat all sides) and let rest in bowl, covered, for about an hour or until doubled in size. Divide dough into 3 portions. Roll each portion flat with a rolling pin to remove air bubbles, then shape into a loaf (you do this by rolling your flat rectangle up into an oval and patting the ends together). Place loaf in sprayed loaf pan, cover, and allow to rise for another hour or until doubled in size. If desired, brush loaf with beaten egg white and sprinkle toppings over loaf—I use a mixture of ground rolled oats, ground flax seed, and poppy seeds. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 30 minutes, or until loaf is rich brown.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade

Rating: 5 stars!
Prep time: Easy

It's that time of summer when I find myself craving cold, fruity drinks all day long. Tonight I came up with this delicious creation to assuage that thirst, and it was perfect! I will definitely be making it again. Also, if I've calculated it correctly, it's only got a little over 7 grams of sugar per cup. Then again, I never said I was good at math....

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup finely chopped or pureed strawberries (I used frozen strawberries and just put them in the blender while still frozen to chop them up)
1/2 cup lemon juice
5 cups water

In small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and strawberries. Heat until boiling; reduce heat and simmer for three or four minutes. Cover and let stand in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. In pitcher, combine water and lemon juice. Add strawberry syrup and stir; serve over ice (if you serve the lemonade right away, it will still be warm from the syrup, so don't skimp on the ice!). Enjoy. I also would love to try this with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc... the options are endless!

Chicken Parmesan

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Easy

Uncooked chicken breasts, cubed
Bread crumbs
Italian seasoning
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in skillet. Mix breadcrumbs (about 1/3 cup) with about 1 T italian seasoning. Toss chicken breasts with breadcrumbs and fry in skillet until lightly browned on each side. Transfer browned chicken into casserole dish; cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with parmesan cheese; bake for another 10 minutes. Serve with tomato sauce, or if you discover you have no tomato sauce halfway through cooking your meal (like I did), with lemon dressing (mince one clove garlic and add to 2 T olive oil; heat in microwave for 1-2 minutes; stir in 2 T lemon juice). Serve over pasta; top with parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Flour Tortillas

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Medium... at least compared to the tortillas you pull out of a bag!

Growing up, I LOVED it when my mom made fresh flour tortillas. Fresh flour (I can't believe I initially spelled that "flower"! yikes!) tortillas + crock-pot cooked pinto beans was my idea of heaven. These tortillas have so much more flavor than tortillas from a bag! Now, we make them once every week or two. In this particular picture I used 1/2 wheat 1/2 white flour, but I sometimes do all white flour—they are both good in different ways.

4 cups flour
2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder (err on the side of too little or you will end up with puffy flatbread instead of tortillas)
1/2 cup shortening or butter
1 1/4-1 1/2 cups hot water

Heat pan or griddle to about 325 (do not grease). In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. With pastry blender, cut in shortening or butter (tip: if you are using refrigerated butter, slice before adding to flour mixture for easier blending). When shortening/butter is mostly blended, add water gradually (I usually start with 1 cup, mix, and then add the water about 1/4 cup at a time after that) until dough is moist and holds together without being sticky. Knead with hands for a minute, then divide into balls a little bigger than a golf ball. On VERY VERY lightly floured surface, roll balls as flat as possible and transfer immediately to hot griddle or pan (otherwise they will puff up). Cook a few minutes on each side, until tortilla is just beginning to have golden-brown spots but still flexible. Fill with your normal taco filling.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Six (or five!)-seed Soda Bread

Rating: 5 stars for heartiness and great for soup!
Prep time: Easy

This, paired with Panera soup, was my lunch today. It's definitely denser and heartier than a yeast-risen bread, but oh my goodness, was it good!!! It was absolutely divine paired with the broccoli cheese soup. I might never be able to serve the two dishes apart again! Not to mention, it was so EASY and so GORGEOUS!

2 1/2 tablespoons each sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy, and flax seeds (I actually had all of these on hand)
1 t. fennel seeds (I didn't have these, so I just left them out—you really can customize this seed list to be whatever you prefer, or have on hand, though I thought the 5 I used were perfect)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups spelt or wheat flour (for those of us who don't have spelt flour on hand!)
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus a little more for brushing (I didn't have buttermilk so I used a buttermilk substitute, 1 cup milk to 1 T lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (really, let it preheat all the way before you start making the dough—the dough makes up very fast and you want your oven to be all the way hot when it goes in). Place a rack in the center of the oven. Mix all seeds together in a bowl; set aside.

In larger bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt. Mix in all but 2 tablespoons of seeds. Create a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in 1 3/4 cup buttermilk (or substitute). Mix until just combined (but not too sticky), then turn onto a lightly-floured surface and knead about one minute (add a little flour at this point if necessary) or until mixture makes a nice bread dough. You don't want to knead too long, as the bread should go into the oven ASAP. Lightly flour a cookie sheet OR line with parchment paper. Shape dough into a round loaf and place on cookie sheet; with serrated knife, mark deep X in top of loaf. Brush with remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with remaining seeds. (Next time, I'd mix some egg yolk in with the buttermilk as some of the seeds fell off after baking—although I'm actually pleasantly surprised by how well the buttermilk did hold them on.) Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bread is a rich golden brown. Enjoy! Yields one loaf.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Tarts/Pie

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Easy-medium

My mom always makes fresh strawberry pie in the spring, when NC strawberries are abundant, delicious, and cheap. I was just dying for some strawberry pie this spring, but we just didn't have enough in the budget for the 4 pounds of strawberries it would take—plus, two people don't exactly need a whole pie to themselves. Instead, we created these darling strawberry tarts. I won't tell you how many of these we've eaten in the past week....

For those more interested in the pie, I've put the pie measurements in parentheses. The tart recipe is intended to yield one dozen tarts, but it totally depends on how thinly you roll your pie crust—the first time I didn't roll it out very thinly, and we only ended up with 7 or 8 tarts.

1 9-inch pie crust (I used this recipe)
1/2 cup mashed or pureed strawberries (1 cup)
1/2 cup sugar (1 cup)
1 1/2 t. cornstarch (1 T)
1/4 cup water (1/2 cup)
1 oz cream cheese (3 oz)
1/4-1/3 t. sugar (1 t.)
1/2 T milk (1-2 T)
1 lb chopped strawberries (app. 4 lb strawberries, whole), less the amount you used for the puree
Whipped cream (I definitely recommend using real, freshly-whipped cream! Then again, I recommend that for just about anything) for topping

For tarts: Heat oven to 375. Roll pie crust as thin as possible (really, as thin as you can get it without it falling apart on you). Punch circles in pie crust with the biggest cup or other circle you can find—we used a 32oz hospital mug, which I think is about 5 inches in diameter. Gently stretch circles with your fingers, and place into cups of muffin tin. The edges of the crust should be at least as tall as or taller than the edges of your muffin tin. Prick crust with fork (including sides) and bake for 8-12 minutes or until very lightly golden. Once crusts are done baking, gently remove from muffin tins and let cool on a plate. While crusts are baking, mix sugar and cornstarch together. Fold in pureed strawberries and combine. Add water; heat until mixture has boiled for 1 minute (on the stove or in the microwave, either works—if you heat it on the stove, be sure to stir regularly). Let cool. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and milk. Once crusts are cooled, spoon a dollop of the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of each crust. Spoon a few of the chopped strawberries into crust (don't overdo it—these will fill up fast!), using the spoon to pack them in if necessary. Gently spoon or pour glaze over the strawberries. Top with another layer of chopped strawberries. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy! They can be eaten right away (and trust me, we did), but the next-day leftovers are even better.

For pie: Heat oven to 375. Roll out pie crust and place in pie dish. Prick bottom and sides with fork and bake for 8 minutes (or until done). While crust is cooking, mix sugar and cornstarch. Fold in pureed strawberries and combine. Add water; heat until mixture has boiled for 1 minute. Let cool. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and milk. Spread over bottom of (cooled) pie crust (if you don't let it cool a little, it will melt the cream cheese... ask me how I know!). Spread one layer of strawberries, sliced in half, over bottom of pie (cut sides up). Layer glaze over strawberries. Continue to layer cut strawberries and glaze until pie crust is full; top with whole berries. Serve with whipped cream.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garlic-Herb Focaccia Bread

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Super easy

I love focaccia bread, and actually used to make it pretty frequently before I got married. The recipe I used then was an authentic Italian focaccia recipe, and it was yummy, but it took about 4 hours to make and dried out after about a day. A few months ago, I realized there was no reason I couldn't use my all-purpose dough to make a light and fluffy—and much faster to make—focaccia. The other night I put the idea to the test, and it was delicious—including the leftovers! I will definitely be repeating this. It's also a pretty healthy snack, since it's loaded with healthy oils and spices.

1 clove garlic, finely minced
Olive oil
Rosemary, oregano, and basil
Grated parmesan
Coarse sea salt

Heat oven to 425. Grease cookie sheet. Make up one batch of pizza/breadstick dough according to recipe—you are aiming for a pretty soft dough here, so go easy on the flour. Knead minced garlic into bread dough. Coat dough with oil and let rise, covered, for about 15 minutes. Gently work dough onto greased cookie sheet, spreading evenly but not too thinly. Cover and let rise for another 20-30 minutes. Brush top of bread with olive oil; with fingers, press dimples into bread every 3-4 inches. Top with sea salt, rosemary, oregano, basil, and grated parmesan. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. (Note: the second time I made this, I cooked it on the second oven rack instead of the highest rack out of necessity. It actually ended up making a FABULOUS crunchy artisan bottom crust... I think I will do it on that rack from now on!) Let cool for a few minutes; cut into squares and enjoy!

Roasted Chickpeas

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Super easy (though the cooking process takes about 20-30 minutes)

I am always looking for healthy snacks that are high in protein and... oh yeah... taste good too. I found these roasted chickpeas on a few blos, and tried them this week—oh man, are they good!!! I told Mahon, "They taste like they shouldn't be healthy..." but they are. So indulge yourself! They are such an awesome combination of crunchy outside and creamy inside.

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (you can use a can; I personally get the dried beans and cook them)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
A generous sprinkle of your favorite seasonings

Preheat oven to 425-450 (if your chickpeas are very soft, the higher setting will work better). Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas, olive oil, and seasonings together (I've been using my Creole seasoning again and LOVING it on these, but I plan to try different things as well—I have even seen some done with cinnamon sugar!). Spread coated chickpeas onto pan, making sure that they are not on top of each other. Bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets and how crunchy you want them, stirring occasionally. I usually will put them in for 10-15 minutes, stir them, and then check them in 5 minute increments after that so that they don't burn. I take them out when they no longer feel soft and squishy to the touch, and when my "test chickpea" tastes a bit crunchy on the outside. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Green Smoothies

Rating: 5 stars—even my super picky sister likes these
Prep time: Easy

This is not so much a recipe as a method. Really, you can use any combination of greens/fruits that suits your fancy; you can also add sugar (although that would totally kill the nutrition factor), honey, agave, or another sweetener if you so desire. For me, the 100% OJ concentrate, plus the banana, sweetens it up just fine. This is the smoothie that I make every morning; it yields 4 cups.

Here are the steps:

1. Fill blender with 1 1/2 cups warm water
2. Add fresh greens in until blender is almost all the way full (but not packed)—I alternate using baby spinach and spring mix salad right now
3. Peel and chop one medium carrot; put chopped carrot on top of greens
4. Pulse in blender until carrots are somewhat chopped up; then allow to blend on highest setting for 1-2 minutes, or until you can't see anymore leafy bits and it's all liquified. (My blender is really enthusiastic and tends to throw stuff up onto the sides while it's blending, which leaves me with a lot of carrots and spinach chunks... not what I want to be eating with my smoothie! While the blender is going, I'll usually take a spoon and scrape down the sides so that all the chunks get integrated.)
5. Turn the blender off. Add in 1/2 banana (fresh or frozen), 1-2 Tbsp 100% orange juice concentrate, a handful of frozen strawberries (I probably do about 6-8 strawberries), and some frozen blueberries (I probably do about 1/4-1/3 cup blueberries). Pulse blender again to get the big chunks broken up, then blend on highest setting for another minute until smooth. If the smoothie gets too thick to blend, add in another tablespoon or two of hot water, stir it up, and blend it again. When it's done, I usually taste it to see if it needs something else—more OJ, fruit, etc.

Like I said, this can be done with any combination of fruit. I use the berries and banana because they are a) cheap and b) very flavorful, and make a great balance to the spinach. I know my mom sometimes puts apples in hers, but apples are a precious resource in our house and aren't getting wasted on any old smoothie! When peaches & pears are in season, though, I plan to add some of those in as well.

One last note—I do my grocery shopping every 2 weeks, which means it's hard to keep all the fresh stuff fresh. At the beginning of my grocery period, I will pull out some of my fresh spinach and put it into ziploc bags to freeze for the end of the grocery period, when the spinach tends to get wilty. Also, I will usually get about 7 bananas, enough for 2 weeks worth of smoothies. For the first week, I'll use half of a fresh banana every day, and freeze the other half... then when the second week rolls around (when the bananas would be brown), I use the frozen halves.

Lemon Cream Pasta with Rosemary Grilled Chicken

Rating: 5 stars
Prep Time: Easy (and fast!)

Man, this pasta dish is good! The original name is actually—I kid you not—"Really Good Noodles & Chicken," but I wanted to call it something that actually describes what's in it. This cooks in about the amount of time that it takes to boil your spaghetti! The original recipe also has tomatoes and bacon in it, but we didn't have any. I also adapted this to be cooked entirely by stovetop, since we have NOT been having grilling weather!

8 oz spaghetti
1/2 cup cream
2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T lemon juice (or the juice of one lemon)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 chicken breasts, thawed and patted dry
Olive oil
A little more lemon juice

Boil salted water for pasta. On another burner, heat (empty) skillet over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of chicken breasts with olive oil. On one side, sprinkle black pepper, salt, and dried rosemary. When skillet is hot (really hot—it will start smoking slightly), place chicken breasts in pan. (I recommend covering them with a lid as well unless you want to set off your fire alarm.) Cook about 5-7 minutes or until very brown; flip breasts over with tongs and cook 5-7 minutes on other side. Once chicken is thoroughly grilled, remove from pan onto cutting board. Lightly pour lemon juice over hot chicken breast; slice into long strips and tent with foil until ready to use. 

Once pasta is almost done, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook for a few minutes until lightly browned and softened. Add cream, salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or two until bubbly. Add in pasta and parmesan cheese. Serve, topped with chicken and more parmesan cheese (and bacon and tomatoes if you so desire).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tres Leche Cake

Rating: 5 amazing stars
Prep time: Medium
Source: The Pioneer Woman (slightly altered by me)

We will be serving this at birthdays, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, and every other place we can think of for the rest of our lives. Period.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

1 pint heavy cream (I just used what was rest after subtracting that 1/4, and it was plenty)
1 1/2 T sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray 9x13 cake pan. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed, until yolks are thick and pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour yolk mixture over flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.  

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Continue to mix while pouring in remaning 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold egg white mixture into batter very gently until just combined. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean. (The original recipe says to bake 35 minutes minimum, but I did that and my edges were definitely overcooked. Next time I would start checking at 25 minutes.) Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter (or, if you are ghetto like me, a rimmed cookie sheet!) and allow to cool completely. The cake will not be as thick as a normal cake—this freaked me out at first, but once it was iced with lots of whipped cream, I decided it was actually a good cake-to-whipped-cream ratio. However, if I wanted to serve more than 12 people, I would probably do 1.5 times this recipe to make a thicker cake.

When cake is cool, combine sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Pierce surface of cake with fork several times. Slowly drizzle ALL of the liquid onto the cake—I stopped too soon last time, and the middle of my cake was too dry. This cake can hold a LOT more liquid than you think it can! Next time I will saturate the cake in installments... drizzle some liquid, wait 10 minutes, do some more, wait 10 minutes, etc. That way it can all soak in. (Note: the Pioneer Woman's recipe says to discard 1 cup of the liquid, but that offends my miserly sensibilities, so I just subtracted 1 cup of the liquid to begin with.) Cover cake with plastic wrap and chill until you are almost ready to serve it (at least 30 minutes). Don't ice it until you're ready to serve it—that way the cake won't absorb the whipped cream frosting.

To ice the cake, place remaining whipping cream in mixer with 1.5 T sugar and beat on high speed until very thick and fluffy. Spread generously over top and sides of cake. Top cake with maraschino cherries (a la the Pioneer Woman) or chopped strawberries (our preference!). Try not to eat the whole thing! This cake yielded 12 slices for us.