Friday, December 31, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread

Bike Boy and I were cleaning out our kitchen cabinets this past week, trying to fit all the new kitchen gadgets and fun stuff into a new home and I came across our bread machine. Our bread machine that has just taken up space for many years, unused and unloved. Do you have any of those appliances in your kitchen?

In my quest to eat more healthy and to make more food at home, I had a desire to make some bread. To give our bread machine some love. It was a delicious experiment and one I'll definitely repeat.

Gorgeous! Both the bread and my pastry board. :)



 
Whole Wheat Bread
 Taste of Home
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (70° to 80°)
  • 1/2 cup water (70° to 80°)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
Directions:
  • In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. 
  • Select basic bread setting. Choose crust color and loaf size if available. 
  • Bake according to bread machine directions (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed). 
Yield: 1 loaf (1-1/2 pounds).


Happy Bread Making!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Home!!

We finally made it home! Christmas was great and we really enjoyed our time with our family but it is really nice to be back home. A week away from home makes my house a disorganized mess. Lots of cleaning and organizing to do the rest of this week.

Apparently my family know my little cooking and baking hobby so I got many new toys to play with in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it means I have to rearrange my kitchen cabinets! But I think I'll survive. :-)

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday! I know I did but I am so ready to get back into the routine. Which means making a menu (and sticking to it!) for the week.

Wednesday: Homemade pizza with pepperoni and green bell peppers
Thursday: Chicken Enchiladas
Friday: Pulled Pork
Saturday: Dinner out with Bike Boy

What's on your menu the rest of this week?


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We awoke to snow this morning and it hasn't stopped. With the snow falling, it looks like a winter wonderland! You just don't see that in Texas.

We have been baking like crazy this week; we made oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate fudge, puff pastry raviolis, caramel pecan chocolate thumbprints, and mint chocolate chip cookies. Trying to keep Bike Boy and my BIL from eating them all before tomorrow!

My mom and mother-in-law made snickerdoodles with me this morning and then we all made rum cake. The cake is baking and I lost my helpers but it's okay. The snow is the perfect background for a Christmas cake. I hope we make this an annual tradition.

Apparently, my father has been holding out on me because we have a family recipe for Southern Comfort cake that has been passed down. I hope to get the recipe soon and share with you all.

I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Christmas filled with family, love and SNOW! I'll back next week with some recipes to share. Thank you for reading my little blog and encouraging me to keep going with it.

Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Going Back

I'm headed back to the Mid-West today! Back to cold winters and potential of snow. Here's hoping for a light dusting of the good stuff on Christmas Day! Shh, don't tell but I think Texas has made me a weenie when it comes to winter. Winter clothes, I keep them in the back of the closet for when we visit.

I'm going to be cooking and baking with my bil, John, this week. Hopefully, I'll come home with some mad chef skills and teach him a thing or two about baking!

Safe travels to all who are making the trek to see family this week! Me, I'll be the one sleeping in the packed full car with no room to recline the seat.

I'm gonna need a massage tomorrow...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Final Week of 12 Weeks of Cookies

I cannot believe it's already the 12th and final week of this baking group! I have had so much fun and discovered so many new and wonderful blogs. I want to thank April from Abby Sweets for hosting this baking group. Thanks April for letting me be a part of the party! It was a lot of fun and I have a ton of new recipes to try.

We had a great time at our annual holiday party this past weekend and I wanted to show you all a couple of pictures of the cookies I made for the party.




Caramel Pecan Thumbprints from Bree @ Baked Bree. Chocolate Caramel Pecan Thumbprints

Snickerdoodles were a huge hit at the party. Snickerdoodle Recipe
Mint M&M cookies, melt in your mouth goodness!


Brown sugar cookies made in the Wilton Holiday Cookie Pan. Gave me all sorts of headaches but they were very delicious as always.
Click the links to see the recipes for the thumbprints and snickerdoodles.

Here are the recipes for the Mint M&M cookies and Brown Sugar cookies. I hope you enjoy making these this upcoming holiday season!

Mint M&M Cookies
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened @ rm temp.
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag mint m&m's

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside
  • Cream butter with sugars. Cream until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, salt, vanilla, and honey. Stir until well blended.
  • Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring between additions.
  • Fold in m&m's.
  • Scoop dough onto a parchment covered cookie sheet leaving about 1 1/2' space between cookies. Bake 9-11 minutes in 350 degree oven. 
  • Let sit for 2-3 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack. 

Brown Sugar Cookies
by: Tracy's Grandmother

Ingredients:
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2 sticks of margarine 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c buttermilk (I use sour milk - 1/2 c milk with 1/2 tsp vinegar and let sit for about 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
  • Cream sugar, margarine, and eggs together. Beat well.
  • Add milk and vanilla and beat well.
  • Stir in flour, salt, soda, and cinnamon. 
  • This dough is extremely sticky so flour your hands and rolling pin very well before rolling out dough. 
  • Roll out on a flour covered board or mat and cut into desired shapes.
  • Bake at 375 for 8 minutes. 
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack.




Post Linked to I'm Lovin It Fridays

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Rum Cake

Don't you just love the holidays? Especially when it involves this bad boy of cake. The Pioneer Woman's website is dangerous both to my heart and my hips. One of my friends asked me how I stay so skinny. The answer to that question is that I get one slice or cookie and Bike Boy, neighbors, and friends get the rest. Okay, I may have fibbed a little there on the rum cake because the second piece hit my hips last night. But it was awesome going down. Bike Boy is gonna have to share his slice or I'm going to be on a starvation diet until March.

Christmas Rum Cake
by The Pioneer Woman

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 box of instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 c cold water
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum (any rum is fine but I like this rum)
  • 1 c finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 light brown sugar

Glaze Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c Rum
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Grease a bundt pan thoroughly. 
  • Mix all the cake ingredients together. PW puts the chopped nuts and brown sugar on the bottom of the bundt pan and then adds the cake ingredients on top of them but I messed up and added them in the batter. I actually found I like that better because the nuts were evenly spread throughout the cake.
  • Bake the cake for 55 - 60 minutes. Check cake around the 50 minute mark so you don't overbake the cake.
  • When the cake has about 10 minutes to go, begin to make the glaze. 
  • Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 4 -5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Turn off the flame and slowly pour in the rum. Stir to combine and reheat for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on how strong a rum taste you want in your glaze. 
  • Remove cake from the oven and immediately drizzle 1/3 of rum glaze on the bottom of the cake. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Gently poke the entire surface of the cake with a fork. Slowly drizzle the remaining glaze on the cake.
  • Allow to cool at room temperature before serving. 


Monday, December 13, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Baked Beans

For our holiday party this past weekend, I made these baked beans as a side dish. The combo of sugar and spice make these beans an unique and tasty side dish for your family get-togethers, holiday parties, or just a week night meal. They are super easy to make to!


Sweet and Spicy Baked Beans
  • 1 boneless pork chop (4 oz), diced
  • 1 med yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (red or green or a combo), diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2/3 c prepared BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar
  • 2 cans (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (15 oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a medium skillet, cook pork chop, onion, bell peppers in the the olive oil over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes. You want the pork chop to be cooked and the onions and peppers to soften.
  • Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
  • Transfer mixture to a 9x13 baking dish and cook for 30 minutes or until beans are tender.

Friday, December 10, 2010

12 Weeks of Cookies Week 11 - Cinnamon Mexican Wedding Cookies

These cookies are an interesting and fun spin on traditional Mexican Wedding cookie. There is more cinnamon both in the dough and powered sugar goodness on the outside. One thing though: beware that these cookie crumble. One of our friends took a bite and half of his cookie fell straight onto his desk. He loved the taste of them but they were a challenge for him to eat. In my defense, I made them small enough to take one big bite but I like to think he was savoring the cookie. I jest; but I am really grateful to Bike Boy's co-workers who eat all my desserts and share their opinions each week. It sure does make a good girl feel good. :-)

Now onto this week's cookie: Wanna see a picture? Okay, okay, you twisted my arm.

Cinnamon Cookies
adapted from My Texas Life magazine

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c sifted whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
  • Line a cookies sheet with foil and set aside.
  • Combine 1 c powdered sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
  • Combine butter and 1/2 c powdered sugar in large mixing bowl and beat until fluffy.
  • Add vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  • Add sifted flour and salt to butter mixture mix on low speed for about 2 minutes. 
  • Roll cookie dough into 1" rounded balls and place on foil-lined cookie sheet. 
  • Chill for about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 and bake cookies on center oven rack for 16-18 minutes.
  • Remove cookies from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack. 
  • Once cookies are cool, roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture. 

Enjoy!




Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cake Balls are Chillin'

Planning and baking for a holiday party is interesting to say the least. At least this year, I have put upon myself to delegate some things (such as side dishes and appetizers) to my lovely friends. I think we'll certainly have a feast!

I was looking at all the goodies I was going to make and realized tonight that I have got to make these cake balls so they could have time to chill. I made the cake as Bike Boy was on his way home from work and then he came into the kitchen and helped me make these bad boys. It was awesome to have another set of hands with mixing and rolling. I'll add pictures tomorrow as I finish up the cake balls.

I hope you all have a wonderful time baking with your family this holiday season! It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Ideas Needed

I have been baking like crazy for our holiday party this weekend. And unfortunately, some of it has not been successful. :( On the bright side, Bike Boy has been enjoying all the experimental cookies. I won't let him take the broken cookies to work. I do have a reputation to uphold. :-)

I bought this Christmas themed Wilton cookie pan and thought it would help me make beautiful sugar cookies without the hassles of rolling out the dough and cutting by hand. The cookies are breaking and sticking so much that it is nearly impossible to get them out of the pan. I am greasing the pan with cooking spray and letting them cool in the pan but nothing is working. Does anyone in blogland have this cookie sheet and can give me some tips? Should I be using a shortbread recipe with this type of baking sheet?

Recipes or tips, anyone? Thanks for any and all help you can provide! I'll be sharing more cookie and holiday party pics later this week.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Mondays -- December 6th

Menu Plans for Week of December 6th

The past two weeks have been absolute madness on my schedule with the holidays and last week cleaning up from the family visit! It was Thursday before I really felt like I was back to my routine and schedule. However, this week brings some chaos as we're having our annual holiday party on Saturday night. I have a lot of baking to do!! But we still gotta eat, right?

Let's see what's on tap for dinner this week.

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: Ravioli and Breadsticks

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Wednesday: I saw this and I knew I had to try it!
Pasta with Garlic roasted Broccoli

Thursday: Grilled Chicken Breasts with Rice

Friday: date night with hubby

Saturday: Holiday Party! We're making Brisket with a potato side dish and tons of dessert goodies!! I'll post pictures and recipes throughout the week. Make sure to check back!!





Post linked to Menu Plan Mondays

Friday, December 3, 2010

12 Weeks of Cookies Week 10 - Gooey Melt in Your Mouth Chocolate Brownies

Mmm, brownies. They are one of my favorite things to eat but I'm usually never the one to make them. I was feeling adventurous this week and decided to make my own.

If I made these brownies again, I would use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips. But that's really all I would change, I love brownies that are chewy and have a melt in your mouth goodness. If you are looking for a gooey brownie recipe, this one works really well. Bike Boy came home and tried them and loved them. What more could a wife want really?

Gooey Melt in Your Mouth Chocolate Brownies
adapted from Southern Living
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c butter
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
  • 1/4 c cocoa
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans or walnuts
  • powdered sugar
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Combine  water, sugar, and butter in saucepan. 
  • Bring to a boil over heat, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and cocoa. Stir until smooth. 
  • Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs to chocolate mixture 1 at a time, stirring after each addition. Your mixture should looks very smooth at this point.
  • Add in vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in chopped pecans. 
  • Stir flour mixture mixture into the chocolate mixture. 
  • Spread into a lightly greased 9" pan.
  • Bake at 325 degree oven for 23-28 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • When brownies are cool, dust with powdered sugar.
  • Cut into squares and enjoy!




Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homemade Gift Idea #1

I have been thinking a lot about what to do for Christmas gifts this week. Blame it on Cyber Monday and Cyber Week (ok, I like to shop at Amazon way too much). I scored some great deals but I know that our friends and family love to try all my baking and cooking goodies. While cookies and fudge are great, I was thinking of something that was a little unique. I thought I could make up some jam and package the jam with this lovely mini loaf of bread.

My dad could not stop raving about this little mini loaf of bread I made for Thanksgiving. It was adorable and delicious. This roll recipe makes several of these mini loaves and they would be great as neighbor, teacher, or co-worker gifts.
Wrap the loaf pan with some cellophane and voila, beautiful and delicious Christmas gift!
The mini loaf pans are $1 at Michaels or JoAnns Fabrics and come in festive colors for the season.


Here a link to the recipe for the rolls. http://tracy-midwesterngirl.blogspot.com/2010/10/fluffy-whole-wheat-rolls.html To make the mini-loaves, cut the dough in 6-8 portions (depending on how big you would like the bread to be). Make sure you have big enough portions to fill the loaf pan about halfway full. More than that and they might rise and expand too much. Place the dough into the greased loaf pan. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes and bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown on top.


 

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