Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts

Friday, March 7, 2014

CTB 2014 - The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Sorry I've been AWOL for the past week or so. I've been crazy busy with my new job and haven't had the energy to do any more computer work once I get home. I'm so excited to share that I just passed my three month anniversary at my new job and I am officially a regular, full-time employee!  I have all those regular employee perks, like paid time off, snow hours and holidays.  Though I don't think I'll be using my time off anytime soon.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Apple-Cinnamon Dulce de Leche Sweet Rolls

The holiday season is sneaking up on us so quickly! I think it's time to transition to regular everyday recipes and into holiday ones! I'm ready to make snowman cookies, peppermint-chocolate everything and maybe a savory recipe or two. The next two weeks I'm dedicating to Thanksgiving recipes and today we start with breakfast!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Peanut Butter-Banana Bread

I thought that nothing could be better than my original banana bread.  Until I made it into coconut French toast.  Then I thought that was the most amazing version of the bread, until I made this loaf.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Restaurant Wars - Red Lobster

I have two complaints when it comes to Red Lobster.  First, the wait.  I have never once walked into this restaurant and gotten a table right away.  It could be three o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon and you could walk in to find a forty minute wait.  Second, the service.  I'm sure it stems from the really long wait and all the people wanting to sit down and eat, but the service you get is more along the lines of - sit down, eat your food and get out.  Red Lobster isn't the European, sit as long as you'd like, linger over a cup of coffee and dessert, kind of place.  Don't take your time, eat your food and give up that table!

The reason we come to RL?  The cheddar bay biscuits of course.  Isn't that why everyone goes there?  That and I don't cook a lot of fish at home because someone won't eat it.  Eating out is the best way for me to get my lobster, fish and shellfish fix.  When ordering out, I get to order the shmorgasboard of shrimp, lobster and fish meal! 

So after waiting almost fifty minutes for our table, Boyfriend and I ordered.  He got his favorite chicken linguine dish and I loaded up on broiled fish and shellfish.  I was trying to order something that wasn't super greasy, apparently broiling also requires heaps of butter, because my dinner was still floating in oil.  To was Boyfriends pasta, but that's just the way he likes it.  We ate lots of cheesey biscuits and had almost all of our dinners to take home.

For our Red Lobster dinner at home, I had to split it into two nights.  There was no way that I could make a pasta dinner and a fish and shrimp dinner at the same time.  As much as I would like to tell you that Boyfriend helps out in the kitchen, his kitchen skills begin and end at heating.  He's had a few culinary masterpieces, but for the most part he's a prepared food preparer. 

Sunday night we had spicy chicken linguine with my own take on cheddar bay biscuits.  Monday night I threw some chicken in the fridge for Boyfriend while I prepared myself some lemon tilapia and shrimp scampi.  I'm in love with the way the chicken and pasta turned out.  It was much lighter than the restaurant meal, but so full of flavor.  It's perhaps because I used an aged parmesan cheese that was amazing.  I wanted to eat it by the chunk.

Monday nights fish dinner was a little tricky to pull together, mostly because fish cooks so fast.  The fish was ready to go much faster than the shrimp and I wasn't ready to juggle all these things (I was also preparing broccoli, stuffing and Boyfriends chicken!).  The shrimp scampi was much lighter than what I got at the restaurant, mostly because I cooked the shrimp in half butter/half olive oil.  My tilapia was simply cooked in a little butter and spritzed with some lemon.  Simple and delicious.

If you only make one thing from this post, make the biscuits!  Oh man, I think I ate four or five of these Sunday night.  I totally deserved it after that long, four-mile run.  There are many recipes for these biscuits online, but they almost all utilize Bisquick.  I was looking to make them entirely from scratch.  With a little tweaking, I think what I came out with was amazing.  If you aren't a salt freak like I am, maybe cut the garlic salt in half.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Sandwich Bread (Part 2)

I have been eating whole wheat bread since I was a little Wilde one.  Our freezer was always stocked with loaves and loaves of bread.  Sandwiches were always a part of my daily school lunches. 

These days I rarely make myself a sandwich for lunch, but I do like a slice of toasted wheat bread, topped with a thin layer of peanut butter. 

The recipe that I went with for my whole wheat experiment came out just like the bread from my childhood days.  With a hint of sweetness and a whole lot of whole grains, this bread may tempt me to head to the deli and make a sandwich.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Sandwich Bread (Part 1)

I really enjoy making bread dough.  I love kneading the dough and the final texture of it.  It's so much fun to play with!  Then there's the science of the yeast and the rising dough.  Making bread is just like a little science experiment in your kitchen.  Just ask any biologist, yeast is very important to science!

The only problem with making bread, I have to find someone to eat it!  I just don't eat that much bread these days.  Since I moved to New Jersey (over a year ago), I have bought one loaf of bread.  Since I got my braces put on (six months ago), I haven't bought a single loaf.  I decided it was too much work to eat sandwiches with the hardware on my teeth.

When it finally came time to the Why Bother? sandwich bread challenge, I decided I had to try something a little different.  You can buy so many different varieties of bread at the local grocery store, farmers market, local bakery or Panera.  I even live equidistant to all four of those places!  I had to make a bread that I would want to eat.

After looking through my five bread-making cookbooks, I settled on two very different loaves.  Today I present to you a pesto swirl bread!  Swirls of freshly made pesto in between airy layers of white bread.  While it came out delicious, I wouldn't suggest using it as a sandwich bread.  The swirls of pesto made the swirls of the bread pop out when the bread was sliced.  Each piece of bread was like a little slinky.

The slinky effect was the exact reason I decided to make a cheese sandwich out of my bread.  The idea came to me in the mid afternoon and I was thinking about it all through my long train ride home.  Two slices of pesto bread, filled with fresh, homemade mozzarella cheese, grilled and melty.  There was no way it couldn't be amazing.  And I was right.

Come back on Sunday for part two of sandwich bread!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Tortillas

Okay.  Confession time.  I do not like corn tortillas.  There, I said it.  I don't really like going out to "authentic" Mexican restaurants because they always serve tacos on corn tortillas.  It's a combination of the texture, flavor and the fact that they fall apart so easily.  My taco fillings always wind up on the plate (or my lap).

When I was confronted with the tortilla challenge, I asked myself  - Should I really bother making corn tortillas?  I'm not going to eat them.  I've eaten in some pretty good Mexican restaurants in the city and I don't even like their tortillas.  I would also never buy them from the store to begin with.

With these thoughts running through my head I decided against making corn tortillas.  I did do a little corn tortilla research and they seem pretty easy to make.  Mix some masa harina with water and press balls of dough flat.  Grill the flattened dough on a skillet for a minute each side.  Ta da?  Gross corn tortillas.  Sorry, I mean corn tortillas.  To each their own.

I am a flour tortilla girl all the way!  And I really enjoyed making these this week.  The total amount of time I spent on the recipe was an hour.  Those sixty minutes include all the required resting time for the dough, shaping and grilling!  You can have a Mexican party on the table in no time flat.

These homemade tortillas were a blast to make.  Once I got the right consistency of the dough, somewhere between a still ball of play-doh and a sticky blob of oatmeal, rolling and grilling the tortillas was like making little pizzas.  I went with a recipe that included a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat flour, pretending that they would be healthier (as I planned on filling them with melted cheese, any level of healthfulness would be good!).

Compared to store bought, my homemade circles were flavorful, airy and flexible.  I used the tortillas for dinner, the same night that I made them.  I had another quesadilla a few days later and it was still pretty delicious!  If you have time, get in the kitchen and make tortillas yourself.  Think of the possibilities of making your own!  The different flour options, adding different herbs and spices and the different tortilla sizes you can make in your own kitchen.  I know I have a few ideas that I want to try out next time!  Stay tuned for more Mexican nights!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Hot Dog & Hamburger Buns

As the majority of the northern hemisphere begins to shake of the last winter chill, we start to think of one thing – being outside. Summer evokes thoughts of times spent in my parents backyard. The backyard would serve many a purpose… Dog-training arena, where I would try to get our golden retriever to play fetch. Operative word being try, she was more of a watcher… Campground, where in the hot nights of the summer my brother and I would camp out in tents, with the dog watching guard… Slip’n’slide/water-soaked wasteland, where we would set up the slip’n’slide at the top of the hill and hurl ourselves to the bottom. We would inevitably wind up sliding off the end and becoming covered in grass…

Most importantly, our backyard was Grill Town. While the grill was never packed away for the winter, it saw its prime use during the days of warmth and sunshine. Grilled chicken, shish kabobs, hot dogs and hamburgers. The grill would see lobster tails and freshly caught fish, Polish sausage and corn on the cob.

Let it be known here and now, I was never in charge of the grill. In fact, to this day I have not cooked anything on a real outdoor grill. The reason? I scared myself half to death while trying to light the grill in the summer of 1993. The simple lesson I learned, do not let the grill fill up with propane before clicking the ignition switch. KA-BOOM! I’d like to eradicate this fear, but currently I don’t have a backyard. I think it’s safer for all of us.

While I might not have a grill, or a place to grill, or the courage to buy/ignite a grill, I do have a grill pan. I have also had it long enough that it has a nice seasoned coat on it. I know it’s not the same, but it’s all this apartment-dwelling, grill-exploding woman has! Luckily this Why Bother? Challenge isn’t about grilling. The month of May is dedicated to all things hot dog!

We start the month with hot dog and hamburger buns! In two weeks we’ll perfect our ketchup and mustard-making skills. We’ll finish out the month by making pickles and you’ll be ready for all of your summer BBQs!

Why are we bothering to make our own hot dog buns? It’s because the store-bought variety consist of 99.3% air. Seriously. Go to your local grocery store and grab a bag of buns. Now squeeze them and squish them down as hard as you can. You’re left with a ball of bread that is about the size of a golf ball. Now carefully put the buns back on the shelf and walk away, quickly.

Air-filled buns are generally flavor-free. These buns should only see the plate when there are fifteen of them piled high and you’re in a competition to eat the most hot dogs in two minutes. Personally, if I’m going to eat it, I want it to have a little flavor! These buns that I made last weekend totally delivered.

These aren’t your average weakling hot dog/hamburger bun. They are sturdy, have great texture and have flavor for days. They were best the day they were baked, but sprung back to life with a few minutes on the grill. These guys are simple white bread bun and I have major plans to make a whole-wheat version before the summer is up.

The lesson from this challenge – Make your own buns, save the store-bought ones for hosting an eating contest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Casserole

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday weekend (or regular weekend!) and that you are now ready for the holiday season.  Did you fill yourself to the brim with turkey and stuffing on Thursday?  Or were you like me and had some Buffalo chicken at the local bar?  Did you head out Friday morning and fight the crowds?  Or were you like me and you stayed far far away from any store that sold anything on Friday? 

While I may have missed out on the food festivities this year, my thanksgiving was not without celebration.  I just enjoyed my thanksgiving holiday in the morning and spent the afternoon travelling!  Boyfriend and I spent the early morning hours under the sunny skies of New York City, watching the Macy's thanksgiving day parade. 

Having done the New York City new years eve thing once, we were concerned about the sheer numbers of people that would be at the parade.  We were told to expect 3.5 million people to line the streets of Manhattan and watch the parade with us.  The one thing that we neglected to account for was the length of the parade route.  Starting at 77th street and Central park west, travelling south to 34th street and 7th avenue, the parade winds its way over two miles of New York City pavement. 

We decided to go uptown to watch the parade, getting off the subway at 66th street and walking to the park.  By the time we got there, the sidewalks were pretty full and the police had closed off the street.  We stood three or four people back from the barracades, but boyfriend and I have a serious parade watching advantage, we're both pretty tall.  There was also another bonus, we came to see the balloons and balloons float.  The massive characters were flying high above our heads, everyone could enjoy them even without a good place to stand.

With the sunny skies and the warmer than usual temperatures, we thoroughly enjoyed the parade.  Having watched them inflate the balloons the day before, it was fun to finally see them all floating above us.  We each had our favorites and waited the whole parade to wave to Kermit the Frog.  Once Kermit flew past, we darted out of there and flew away ourselves.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - Povitica

On a recent Friday at work, we had ourselves a party.  It was a party that is probably right up your alley.  It was called Bake-toberfest and it was for charity.

For Bake-toberfest, the kitchen-saavy members of my company took to their ovens (and a couple to their cars and the grocery store) and produced some seriously delicious treats.  I wish I had pictures of the tables.  There were pies, cookies, cakes, bars, cupcakes, tarts and even a jell-o dish, lining over fifteen feet of table.  The bakers had really outdone themselves.

You might be asking what we did with all of these treats?  Were we baking and sharing just to pig out and drink all of the milk in the lunchroom fridge?  No, it was all for charity.  For a mere $5, you were allowed to come in the room and enjoy the buffet of sugar.  For a scant $10, you could not only enjoy the treats at work, but you could bring as much home and you could carry.  It was a brilliant idea, because once someone glanced over the table of treats, there was no way that $10 wasn't making its way into the till.

The Daring Baker's October 2011 challenge was Pivitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered-Whisk.  Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!  I decided that it was the perfect item to bring in for Bake-toberfest.  It was totally different from anything else on the table and quickly disappeared.  Even a coworker who tried to stay away from the buffet, couldn't help herself from trying a piece.  When I asked her why, she responded "We have this at home, it's a treat we eat during the holidays!"  My coworker is originally from Romania, and was very happy with this recipe.  She suggests you eat the end pieces, because they are the best!

In the end, Bake-toberfest was able to raise almost $800!  Quite the feat for a table full of goodies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Bakers : FRESH, FLUFFY, FRENCH!

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I don't know why these little beauties weren't on my Culinary Goals list.  I love croissants!  While in France last year I ate them every morning for breakfast with my chocolate chaud!  Perhaps I realized that if I knew how to make them, or was successful at making them, that I would be in trouble. 

The problem being, if twelve light and fluffy croissants come out of the oven and there are only two people around to eat them, how many croissants does each person eat?  The inevitable answer is, too many!  While the croissants are cooking in the oven, the house begins to smell warm and delicious.  A sweet, yeasty fragrance starts to tempt you into the kitchen.  You peek into the oven and see those crispy, golden layers and can't wait until the timer rings.

This is exactly how it played out the morning that I made these little darlings.  I woke up at 6:00 to give the dough the final few turns and went back to bed for another two hours.  Around 8:00, I got out of bed to cut and shape the croissants.  They spent a little time rising and warming up, starting to fill the kitchen with their sweet smell.  After a quick egg wash and short time in the oven I was ready to scarf down a few of these French treats.  I held myself back and only ate two, then took the rest to work the next day to avoid any temptation!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Orange Cinnamon Bread

While I may be the queen of trains, they don't always like to obey my commands.  This is unfortunate, because I have to rely on two different train systems to get to and from work.  Back in March, boyfriend moved to a great little apartment in New Jersey.  He had transferred to the New York office of his company and thereby moved closer to me (while I was still in Connecticut).  In May, I received the offer for my dream job on Long Island and, as you know, I jumped at it.

So, now I travel from New Jersey to Long Island everyday.  I am subject to the trials and tribulations of both the New Jersey transit and the Long Island Railroad and the two systems do not like to cooperate with each other.  Inevitably one train will be late, and the other will be right on time.  This is a problem and I'm the girl you see, running through Penn station, mowing down little old ladies with big suitcases.  I had to hurdle over a toddler once.

Okay, I'm not really jumping over children and knocking down grannies.  But I am that blur you see out of the corner of your eye.  Why do my trains always come in on the furthest apart platforms?  LIRR - platform 21, NJT - platform 1, blurg!

In the past three weeks there have been three different problems.  1. "Police situation" held up my LIRR train for an hour, then it rained on me.  2. Lightning struck some important train equipment, keeping all LIRR trains from entering New York city.  3. A derailed train in Penn station caused all NJT trains hours of delays and rerouted trains.  And I've only been commuting via train for a month, I can't wait to see what the future of train travel brings me! 

I will tell you this, I know all the ins and outs of Penn station, like which bathrooms are generally the cleanest.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Light Wheat Bread

I know, it's Monday, beginning of the work week.  It is also the end of my first weekend as a non-student!  And let me tell you, I enjoyed every non-lab filled minute of it.  I slept in, I baked, I made dinner.  It was fabulous.  Let us compare a student weekend to my first non-student weekend.

Student weekend - Wake up at 6:30 and bake something quick, like zucchini bread.
 This weekend - Wake up at 7:45 and read my book for a half hour (what can I say, I'm an early riser)

Student weekend - Shower quickly and throw on some jeans and a t-shirt.
This weekend - Put off taking a shower and watch some HGTV with boyfriend.

Student weekend - Eat some cereal and a banana
This weekend - Eat a banana while making boyfriend and I some French toast with my homemade bread.

Student weekend - Walk to the lab, enjoy twenty minutes of sunshine (although it is most likely through a cloudy sky).
This weekend - Walk to D Do's and get coffee for boyfriend.

Student weekend - Spend the next several hours working in my hood, staring sadly out the window.
This weekend - Run some errands with boyfriend, spend lots of time outside and get a little suntan.

Ahhh, I'm liking weekends.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Buffalo Cheesey Bread

Things have been so crazy here in Connecticut!  I'm so sad that I won't be able to head home to Buffalo at all this summer.  Major changes are happening (stay tuned) and I'm going to be busy here on the coast for the next few months.  This is good and sad at the same time.

The best time of the year to go to Buffalo is the summertime!  Fall always comes to town with rain and cloudy skies.  Winter barges in with layer upon layer of snow that doesn't completely disappear until March.  Spring slowly melts away and you find yourself in June.  The sun finally welcomes you in the morning and the nights are warm and starry.

Summertime also brings with it some of my favorite Western New York events.  You must head out to the Taste of Buffalo, but be aware, don't go with a large group.  There are so many people at the TOB that it's hard to make your way from one end of Main street to the other.  The food makes the trip totally worth it! 

I'm also a huge fan of Canalfest.  Held in the Tonawandas, it celebrates the Erie canal!  Or, what's left of it, I guess.  Whatever it celebrates, I try to plan my trips home around this event.  It all starts with a huge craft fair weekend, where you can buy everything from coasters to sheds.  There's a Miss Canalfest competition (which I totally wanted to be in when I was little, too bad I wasn't a resident...) and there is food galore!  Ribbon fries with vinegar, funnel cakes with powdered sugar and sausage with peppers and onions.  I always weigh a good five pounds more by the end of the day.

I also am missing my family this summer.  Boat rides on the Niagara river with my parents.  Long walks by the creek with Zoe, my happy, fluffy, red, golden retriever puppy.  Discussing fruit trees and computers with my brother (granted, that computer talk is usually one sided, not my side).  Soon I'll have the time to come home, just not in the next few months.

To cheer myself up and remind myself of home, I made some bread.  It's packed to the top with Buffalo flavor, the only thing that would have made it even more amazing was if I had some blue cheese in the house.  Next time!

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