Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits

I have been in the search of a biscuit recipe that does not taste like baking powder.  I came across a couple different recipes online and in my usual style, combined them to create my own recipe.  This recipe is very simple and took me 10 minutes to make and about 10 minutes to bake.  


The ingredients in this biscuit recipe are things I like to keep well stocked in my house, they are the basics of baking and will help you get by...especially when you need to go to the grocery store like me.   


Here is what you will need:


2cups flour
2teaspoons baking powder
½teaspoon salt
2teaspoons baking soda
6tablespoons chilled butter
1cup buttermilk



Pre heat oven to 425 degrees
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.  I did not have a pastry cutter, so I used what I had. (Next time, I think I will use my Kitchen Aid for this step, on low speed until the mix is crumbly. Maybe I'll get a pastry cutter from Santa this year too!). 
Add buttermilk, tossing with a fork until a dough ball forms (there will be small chunks of butter). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. 

Knead lightly a few times with your hands, just until smooth. Pat the dough to desired thickness, 1/4 to 1/2 inch  (depending on how thick you like your biscuits).

Using a round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits. It's okay if they are not perfect.  



Bake on ungreased baking sheet (I used a baking stone) for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. For the last couple of minutes, I moved the biscuits to the top rack of the oven so they would brown.  


They turned out very light and fluffy, but most importantly, they did not have a bitter baking powder flavor. 



I put butter and syrup on mine and Kent put jelly on his.  Both were delicious! 

Variations:

If you were making these for dinner, you could add garlic, chives and cheddar cheese to the recipe and have a great dinner biscuit.  

If you were needing a quick dessert, these would also make a great strawberry shortcake.  



Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Brownie you will Crave...


One can never go wrong with brownies. I came across this brownie recipe on 3 or 4 different food blogs I was reading, all of which said this was the best brownie recipe they had ever made. The original recipe came from a blog called
Smitten Kitchen, she has great recipes by the way! However, like many recipes, I added my own personal touch. Most people have the basic baking ingredients needed in their pantry and it actually is a pretty simple recipe.

If you like gooey, chocolatey goodness, you will love these brownies. This recipe is baked in an 8 X 8 inch pan, as opposed to a 9 X 13 inch pan (which you would use if you were making a brownie mix out of a box).

Here is what you will need:



10tablespoons (1¼ sticks, 5 ounces or 141 grams) unsalted butter
cups (9⅞ ounces, 280 grams) sugar
¾cup plus 2 tablespoons (2⅞ ounces, 82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
¼teaspoon salt
½teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2large eggs, cold
½cup (66 grams, 2⅜ ounces) all-purpose flour
cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray an 8×8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and microwave for 1:30 minutes.


Remove and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.


It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smoothes out once the eggs and flour are added.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour.


Stir until you cannot see the flour any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.

Stir in the nuts, if using (I did not use any nuts). Spread evenly in the lined pan.


Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool.


The recipe said to cut the brownie into 16 or 25 squares... I cut ours into 9.

I topped the brownies with vanilla bean ice cream and a few raspberries. It was DELIGHTFUL with the warm brownies, the cold ice cream and the tart raspberries to compliment the chocolate. I will definitely be making these again! If you are making for a large crowd, you may want to double the recipe and use a mixer (my arm got tired of stirring the mix).








Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Orange Sweet rolls...orange you wishing you were here for breakfast?

Since I started my maternity leave early, you would think I would be sleeping in every day until noon, however, that is most certainly not the case. Once again, wide awake at 4:30 AM...so what am I thinking about? Food, I am starving!!! I knew I was not going to be able to go back to sleep, so I just got up and started thinking of the possibilities for breakfast.  


One of my favorite all time breakfast foods has got to be orange sweet rolls.  So, I started looking up recipes online. I went to the Cooking Channel website, and looked under Kelsey's Cooking Essentials (one of my new DVR scheduled recordings) and found a recipe. Just like any other recipe, I tweaked it.  


The good thing about this recipe is you can use the dough for not only sweet rolls, but cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, pizza dough and I am sure you could fry it and make great doughnuts.  


INGREDIENTS:

For the dough:

(3) .25 oz. packets active-dry yeast 
1 3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup honey (I used Orange Blossom Honey, it's some of the best honey in the world from central Florida)
1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs, beaten
4-6 cups flour, plus more if needed (I ended up using about 7 cups)




For the Filling:

3/4 cup sugar
zest and juice of one orange (I used 2 Clementines)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
(1) 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons orange juice
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 Teaspoon vanillaorange zest (I used zest of 2 clementines)







DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid), combine the instant yeast and warm water. Let it activate for 5 minutes or until bubbly (it took a little longer for mine).





Stir in the honey, on low speed, add 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 teaspoons salt, and eggs. Slowly add the flour, cup by cup, until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour if it is too sticky. You should be able to touch the dough and not get it stuck to your fingers. 




Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with saran wrap, sprayed with cooking spray. Let sit in a warm place, until dough has doubled in size. I had to create a "warm"place. 




















I put one of my pampered chef stones in the oven, let it get hot. Then I put another pan on top of that, then set the dough on it.  Be careful however, not to get the dough too hot or it will start baking. 




Since it was just me and Kent for breakfast, I only used half the dough for the sweet orange rolls.  I left the other dough plain for dinner rolls tonight or tomorrow night.  

On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a 15 by 11-inch rectangle (mine was more like an oval). 


















In a mixing bowl, add sugar, orange juice, and half the orange zest. 






Spread the softened, unsalted butter over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle orange sugar evenly over the dough.




Starting with the long side, roll up dough tightly. 







Cut into slices (about 18 if you use all of the dough), each about 1/2 inch thick. 
Place in greased pans and cover with a kitchen towel or saran wrap. 






Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let rolls rise about 15-20 minutes in a warm place. 





Bake in the oven until tops are golden-brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, brush tops with melted butter, and cool on a cooling rack.





For the glaze: in a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, softened butter, orange juice, orange zest, cream cheese, vanilla and sugar. Mix until well blended. When rolls are cooled, pour on glaze.  





I was very surprised how light, moist and airy the dough was.  They were ooey, gooey orange-y goodness!!

I will definitely make these again and can't wait to experiment with the dough to create the next tasteful treat. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gammy's Oatmeal Pancake Recipe


Every summer, we load up and go to North Carolina, Montreat, to be exact. It usually takes us anywhere from 12-14 hours driving from Tulsa (depending on my bladder and if my husband allows us to stop).  Montreat is 20 miles east of Asheville. Kent grew up going to Montreat every summer, it is his Heaven on Earth. Montreat is a very small college town, with a post office, a town office, an inn, residential houses, a few stores and a few churches.  The college also doubles as a conference center during the summer. 


Six years ago this April, we were engaged at the top of Lookout Mountain (also in Montreat). I am not really what you would consider "athletic", so when Kent was begging me to go for a hike, I was not sure I could make it (the trail is 0.57 miles, I know I am pathetic but the air is a little thinner). After huffing and puffing my way up the trail and finally regaining my breath and strength, he got on one knee and asked me to marry him. 

Lookout Trace is also special to Kent's family, it was dedicated to his grandfather, Gamboo (picture below). 


Below: Me on top of the World :)


We took Bear last year, he loved hiking Lookout



One of our favorite things to do is get up super early and watch the sun rise over the mountains, or watch the sunset.  The Smoky Mountains are beautiful! Seeing the mountains makes you wonder how people can even question whether there is a God or not.  

Kent also likes to "rock hop" and build dams, I swear he turns into a little kid when we get to the mountains. This is him with Logan and Carson, his cousins, playing in the creek, dam building and catching crawdads.  


Montreat is a very low-key place. Because it turns into a conference center during the summer, there are many things to do from Friday night square dances to various activities throughout the week (our favorites are tie-dying, pottery and felting). I like to take lots of books and magazines, as well as cards and board games to play at night. 

Ok, so I know I have posted a lot of breakfast/brunch foods on here, but it is my favorite meal.  This recipe came from Kent's grandmother, Gammy.  We would talk her into making us breakfast at her cabin when we were in the mountains.  

This recipe is very simple and delicious, the oatmeal gives the pancakes texture.  It also leaves you feeling fuller, longer, because of the oatmeal.  Here is what you will need:


cups oats (uncooked)
2cups buttermilk
½cup flour (can use whole wheat)
1teaspoon sugar
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon salt
2eggs

Put oats and buttermilk in a bowl, stir and let set 10 minutes.




While letting your oats set, put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir up.

Fold dry ingredients into oats and buttermilk.
Crack eggs and stir in a separate bowl. 

Fold eggs with the rest of the batter (just until blended, no need to over mix). The batter will seem thick.

Turn skillet on Medium heat and let get hot then spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Cook until browned on both sides. Since these are a little thicker than regular pancakes, they may be harder to flip, the quicker you flip them, the less mess you will make (at least that's hat I tell myself).  

I like to put fresh fruit on my pancakes, today's choice was bananas.  I also used my handy banana cutter that "Santa" brought be for Christmas.  









I sprinkled powdered sugar on top, everything is always better with powdered sugar! I used maple syrup, but blueberry syrup is also quite delightful on top! This made about twelve (12) 4 inch pancakes. If you have any left over, they are even better heated up the next day!