Sunday, November 16, 2008

Buttery Soft Crescent Rolls

Since my friend gave me a bread machine, I've been looking for and trying new recipes that use it. Many of the times when I've searched online, people say that they like to use the machine to make their dough, and then bake in their regular oven.

I started thinking about it and realized that this is a great idea. Mostly because my kitchen usually isn't warm enough in winter for dough to rise. And the other great thing, is that you can make all sorts of bread items, not just loaves of bread.

I found this recipe on Recipezaar...and my 8 year old son gives them 4 out of 5 stars. It was very simple and the rolls really get large when you bake them. They fluff up and have a nice buttery taste.

Buttery Soft Crescent Rolls

1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. warm milk
1 egg
1/3 c. butter (softened)
1/3 c. white sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 pkg (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast...about 2 1/4 teaspoons
1/4 c. butter (melted)

1. Place ingredients into bread maker in order recommended by manufacturer: water, milk, egg, 1/3 cup butter, sugar, salt, flour and yeast. Reserve additional butter butter (1/4 cup) for later.

2. Select dough/knead cycle and start. This cycle should mix dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour.

3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with additional butter.

4. Cut into 16 pie shaped wedges. Roll wedges starting with wide end into crescent shapes.

5. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and allow to rise for an additional hour.

6. Bake for 10- 15 minutes at 375°F or until golden brown.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Making pasta using what's at hand...

I need to go grocery shopping. Really badly. You can tell when you open my refrigerator and see the back of it! So, when it was time to make dinner last night, I had to figure out something new.

I started with thin spaghetti, and the thought of olive oil and garlic. Then, I remembered that I had some spinach that needed to be eaten. It all took off from there.

Pasta with Garlic Spinach Cream Cheese Sauce

Boil your pasta in salted water till al dente.

Meanwhile, use about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and saute your fresh spinach. I used about 3-4 cups (it really wilts down to nothing). When the spinach is almost all wilted, add in 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add a half cup of chicken broth. Simmer, reducing by about half the liquid. Add in about 1/3 block of cream cheese. Stir until melted. Toss hot pasta in sauce. Serve!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Took a little advice and made something good...

I took Ilva's advice and made something yummy for myself last weekend. I haven't been doing too much real cooking or baking lately, but my son perked up when I suggested that maybe we should bake a pie.

I used a couple of recipes from America's Test Kitchen...their all butter pastry for the crust and their recipe for Deep Dish Apple Pie. It turned out well, and I even liked it better cold!

All-Butter Pie Pastry

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus additional flour for work surface
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup ice water , or more if needed

1. For Pastry: Process flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of large peas, about ten 1-second pulses.

2. Using fork, mix sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water in small bowl until combined. Add half of sour cream mixture to flour mixture; pulse for three 1-second pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is floury, dry, and does not hold together, add 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water and process until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to five 1-second pulses.

3. Turn dough out onto work surface. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk; wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, 1 to 2 hours, before rolling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling.)

Deep Dish Apple Pie

Use a combination of tart and sweet apples for this pie. Good choices for tart are Granny Smiths,
Empires, or Cortlands; for sweet, we recommend Golden Delicious, Jonagolds, or Braeburns.
Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 24 hours. To reheat, remove the wrap and warm the pie in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

1⁄2 cup (31⁄2 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup (13⁄4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon juice and 1⁄2 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
21⁄2 pounds firm tart apples (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices (see note)
21⁄2 pounds firm sweet apples (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices (see note)
1 recipe Foolproof All-Butter Pie Pastry
1 egg white, beaten lightly

1. Mix 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, zest, and cinnamon in large bowl; add apples
and toss to combine. Transfer apples to Dutch oven (do not wash bowl) and cook, covered, over
medium heat, stirring frequently, until apples are tender when poked with fork but still hold
their shape, 15 to 20 minutes. (Apples and juices should gently simmer during cooking.) Transfer
apples and juices to rimmed baking sheet and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. While apples cool, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place empty rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out between 2 large sheets of parchment
paper or plastic wrap to 12-inch circle, about 1⁄8 inch thick. (If dough becomes soft and/or sticky,
return to refrigerator until firm.) Remove parchment from one side of dough and flip onto 9-
inch pie plate; peel off second layer of parchment. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, roll second disk of dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper or
plastic wrap to 12-inch circle, about 1⁄8 inch thick. Refrigerate, leaving dough between parchment
sheets, until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Set large colander over now-empty bowl; transfer cooled apples to colander. Shake colander
to drain off as much juice as possible (cooked apples should measure about 8 cups); discard
juice. Transfer apples to dough-lined pie plate; sprinkle with lemon juice.

5. Remove parchment from one side of remaining dough and flip dough onto apples; peel off
second piece of parchment. Pinch edges of top and bottom dough rounds firmly together. Following illustrations 1 through 4, trim and seal edges of dough, then cut four 2-inch slits in top of dough. Brush surface with beaten egg white and sprinkle evenly with remaining teaspoon sugar.

6. Set pie on preheated baking sheet; bake until crust is dark golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes.
Transfer pie to wire rack and cool at least 11⁄2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Time flies...

I guess that I must have been busy the last 2 months!

I have been thinking about so many things lately.

I went out on a few dates with a guy. They were fun, but it just didn't feel right. However, it did remind me that I want and need some sort of connection with a guy. Now, to find the right guy. And soon, I hope. The memories of the few kisses we shared makes me start daydreaming at work.

My car has been having issues off and on (yeck), and right now my muffler is hanging about 6 inches from the ground. I know this isn't good, but I think it is too rusted and old to be reattached, so if I take it in, they'll be selling me a new muffler. So, I haven't taken it in. This is on top of two front tires that keep losing air (and two flat tires about a month ago). Damn car.

My work has been pretty stressful as well. I am SO busy, too. Maybe I'll get lucky and next week will be slower.

A couple I know is having serious relationship problems and I feel like I'm stuck in the middle. It's been more stressful than dealing with my own divorce.

I've been staying quiet around my friends because I'm just feeling a little stressed out and down lately. I wonder if it has to do with the arrival of the first cold days of autumn.

Well, this is kind of a blue note to finish on, but I guess that is appropriate.