Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A bit of this and that makes sunken delicious cupcakes.

So you want to make cupcakes.  Simple chocolate cupcakes from a box.  Sure - that's easy.  I was curious if there was a better way to make cupcakes from a box mix.  Found a recipe that used a box mix and items I assumed I had on hand - easy peasy!
Start pouring things in the mixer, hrm... I could use just a cup of skim milk, but why not use the rest of the heavy whipping cream I have - don't want it to go to waste.  Topped off the whipping cream with skim milk, that makes 2% - right?  Maybe 3 1/2%...
1 cup of sour cream.  Of course I do.... don't have a cup of sour cream.  Dang it.  Well I'm committed now, the milk and oil are already sloshing around... instead half a cup of sour cream and have a cup of.... oh!  A half a brick of cream cheese, let's clean that up!  Plop!  In it goes!  Don't worry, I had 4 eggs.  The batter?  Tasted amazing.
The cupcakes baked up nicely, although when they came out they sunk a little, perfect to add a nice swirl of frosting on top.  Want to hear about the frosting?  Sorry - you'll have to wait.
These cupcakes?  I'd make them again - just as I did... and maybe even the right way.  Who knows - maybe they'd be even better!

Chocolate Cupcakes 
1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
1 box chocolate fudge instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a stand mixer, combine all ingredients. Beat for about two minutes. Place slightly less than a 1/4 of a cup of batter into each cupcake liner. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A tale of pins and pies...

Let me tell you a story... a story about a pin on Pinterest.
My friend Brian told me about this pie... this amazing pie he had that was half sweet potato and half pecan pie.  It had a bourbon sauce on it and was to die for... so he claimed.
I tried to pin the link - you see, because that's what I do.  I pin things on Pinterest.  The problem with the link he gave was that it had no photo.  You have to have a photo for pinning links on Pinterest.  So I googled, found a similar looking (I could only assume) pie used that image, pinned the link, moved on with my life.
Since then over 3000 people have repinned that silly reference link I made for myself.  I finally had to make a rule in my email to delete any emails that came with the title of the recipe.  My phone pops up all day with notifications about people liking or pinning this recipe.
I guess if that many people are interested in it, I should at least try the recipe.  Plus the raving review Brian gave it.
We celebrated Christmas with Andy's family and my father-in-law loves both sweet potato and pecan pie... also bourbon.  From all accounts that I heard - it was awesome.  I'm not a fan of any of those things so I decided not to partake.  Although I should have at least tried the sauce, that bourbon was hard to find.  Apparently my ability to find a liquor store in business is not great.  Then when I finally did find one and brought the teeny tiny bottle home Andy said "oh, they have those at every gas station."  [facepalm]
It's up to you if you want to try this pie.  Heck - pin it on Pinterest.. Or pin this blog post... you do what you want... it's your life. Think I'll just sit here and smile at the cute little bottle of bourbon.

Pappadeaux's Sweet Potato Pecan Pie With Bourbon Sauce

1 (9 inch) pie shells, unbaked

Sweet Potato Filling:
1 1⁄4 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes (2 medium)
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup sugar
1  egg, lightly beaten
1⁄4 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1  pinch salt
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3⁄4 teaspoon allspice
3⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
3  tablespoons butter, softened

Pecan Pie Filling:
1 1⁄4 cups sugar
1 1⁄4 cups dark corn syrup
3  eggs, lightly beaten
3  tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1  pinch salt
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1⁄4 cups chopped pecans

Bourbon Sauce:
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
1  cup milk
1 (3 1/2 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix
3  tablespoons Bourbon or 3 tablespoons brandy or 3 tablespoons rum
1  teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Sweet Potato Filling:  Combine mashed sweet potatoes, sugars, egg, cream, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and butter in an electric mixing bowl and beat at medium-low speed until smooth (do not overmix).
Pecan Filling: Combine all ingredients.
Bourbon sauce: Whisk all ingredients together until creamy and smooth.
To Assemble: Spoon sweet potato filling into the pastry shell.
Fill shell evenly to the top with the pecan filling.
Bake at 1 1/2 hours or until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
Store pie at room temperature for 24 hours before serving.

Serve pie slices with Bourbon Sauce.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Apple Slices or Slices of Apple?

Apple Slices - what is in your mind right when I say that?  Well, you can see the picture above so I'm not sure your answer actually counts.  Tell a 3 year old she gets to have an Apple Slice if she finishes her dinner - guess what she thinks she's getting?  A slice of apple.  Tell my dad?  He thinks he's getting a pastry filled with apple filling with icing on top.  Very different things.  My folks made this mistake watching our kids.  Told Bronwyn that if she finished her dinner she got an apple slice!  Wow she was disappointed when it was not a nice red apple slice.
I like to call this Apple Slab Pie because it seems to make more sense than Apple Slices.  This is a combo of two different recipes that we've tried.  The one recipe is from a family friend long ago but it had very little in the way of spices.   The other recipe had a crust made in a very odd way.  So - we compromised and tweaked and served this for Thanksgiving.  Easy to serve, people can have a big or little piece, try other desserts too.  No big commitment unless that's your hope.
This recipe for sure is winner.  It feeds an army or just the right amount.
Oh… and Bronwyn got her apple… she was at Grandma's… anything goes… almost.

Apple Slab Pie 

3 cups flour, sifted
1 cup lard (vegetable shortening)
½ cup water
1 egg
1 Tbls. Vinegar

15 medium size cooking apples
2 cups sugar
6 Tbls. Flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of all spice
1/4 tsp cardamom 
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup butter

4 Tbls. Butter melted
2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Milk as needed for thin glaze

Cut flour into lard until size of a pea. Combine water, egg and vinegar; blend into flour mixture.  Divide dough in half.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Use an ungreased jelly roll pan.  Roll half of dough out: Place on pan.  Slice peeled apples (She used granny smiths) and place on crust.  Combine sugar, flour, spices, and salt.  Sprinkle over apples, dot with butter.  Roll out remaining dough and place over top of apples and seal crust… Make several slits on top.  Bake 1 hour.

Combine topping ingredients and drizzle over warm apple squares. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chocolate Slab Pie of Love and All that is Good in the World

If I have a thing... it's for French Silk Pie.  First date with Andy?   Baker's Square for French Silk Pie.  Birthday dessert request?  French Silk Pie.  I've made it sure... have I ever made a good one?  ah... that's been debatable, until now.
For Thanksgiving there's always the typical Pumpkin or Apple Pie, even sweet potato.  I heard of a family that has French Silk at every holiday.  How awesome and smart is that?
Since I made an Apple Slab Pie for Thanksgiving, I wanted to do the same with the French Silk.  It took some figuring and some futzing, but I got it.
I thought I was so smart with the crust, creating such an intricate pattern and one solid sheet of dough - it was great!  Took it out of the oven... all of those pieces were not individual pieces - great. But it didn't matter, I covered them with filling and it worked out anyway.
I made a double batch of filling and oh did I make my mixer work for it.  But eventually, out of all those eggs, came silk... pure chocolate silk. 
For the topping I did Whipped Topping, I'm not a fan of whipped cream, and honestly - whipped topping (while the commercials all say is oil) holds up  better.  I even attempted chocolate curls for the top.  I say attempted because they were mostly a failure until I was trying to clean the pan off and they finally started working.  Bah... a lesson for another day.
This recipe - awesome.  It can be halved - for sure and done in a pie plate or even a square dish.  I liked that it fed so many and you could have a small piece without obliterating the entire pie, a common issue with the round pie variety.
So will I continue to order French Silk?  Of course!  But I also now have this easy pie in my back pocket to pull out and impress people with.  Mmmm maybe I'll whip some up to eat with Nilla Wafers... oh now I'm getting hungry....

French Silk Slab Pie

2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 teaspoons vanilla
8 eggs
Whipped cream or Cool Whip
2 Round Pie Crusts formed into jelly roll pan and baked.

1.Bake a pie crust or use a Pillsbury refrigerated crust and make according to package directions for a fully baked crust.
2.Beat sugar and butter on medium high until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes.
3.Add chocolate and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
4.Add eggs, two at a time, beating 5 minutes after each addition.
5.Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow filling to chill for 2-3 hours before adding to cooled pie crust.
6.Add prepared whipped topping,
7.You can garnish with shaved bittersweet chocolate as well.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Baking up Bread with My Wooden Shoes On

Warm cozy soup - that's just what you want on a cool fall day - right?  Of course it is (I'll answer that for you). What goes great with cozy warm soup?  Warm fresh bread, hot out of the oven.  It was a Sunday afternoon this fall I decided we probably should have some bread with the soup I was planning to make.  I quickly tossed it together and let it rise on the counter as we left to take a family walk to a new park.
Why did I decide to make my own bread?  We shop at Aldi - all of their bakery fresh bread?  Tastes like sourdough.  Now that's awesome if you actually like sourdough - I do not.  French Bread and Italian Bread?  Completely different things!  At Aldi?  Basically the same loaves of sourdough in different packages. Bah... so... fresh baked bread seemed important.
As we went for our walk, we decided to walk through a local church that has a neat log building so I could take a few pictures, then passed a few businesses on our way to the park.  One of those businesses was a Chinese food restaurant.  Oh the smells coming out of that place were amazing.  I ran in and got a take out menu.  The closer we got to the park, the more convinced we were that soup was off the menu, it got replaced by Chinese food.  So sitting at the park we called in our ordered.  On our way home - we walked and picked it up.  Got it home, rolled up our sleeves... and remembered.  We'd gotten food at this place before.  It was "Eh" at best.  Why do we try new food places?  We have good solid take-out places, yet we go out in the world and test the waters.  Why?  Of course I'm kidding - mostly.
What about the bread?  Oh I baked it and we enjoyed the smell of fresh bread, then ate it the next night with dinner.  Bronwyn - lover of all things carb - loved it.  I love this type of bread - bakes inside the Dutch oven, which causes an issue when you also want to make soup in the Dutch oven.  I see an addition to my Wish List….
Dutch Oven Artisan Bread
4-4 1/2 cups bread flour (or a combo of bread flour and AP flour if you realize you don't have that much bread flour)
2 Tablespoons yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
Proof yeast by combining the yeast and the sugar in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer and then pour the warm water over it. Whisk it by hand lightly. Let is rest for 10 minutes until it is foamy.
In a separate bowl mix 3 cups of the flour with the salt.
Add the flour mixture one cup at a time to the yeast mixture in the stand mixer attached with the dough hook. The dough will start to come together, but still be sticky. Add in the rest of the flour in 1/2 cup increments until the dough completely comes together in a ball. Let the mixer knead the dough for a few minutes. Then dump the dough onto the counter and continue to knead for about five minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover the top with a lightly damp kitchen towel. Let is rise for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the Dutch oven inside.
Do not punch down the dough.
Simply take out the ball of dough, that should have risen. Lightly coat both the bottom and the top of the loaf with flour. Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and just as carefully drop the dough in the center of the Dutch oven. Cut three slits in the top of the loaf. That will give it that artisan top.
Cook for 30 minutes covered. Then take off the lid and cook for another 7-10 minutes, until the top is golden and crunchy looking.
Remove from the Dutch oven onto a cutting board. Let it cool slightly.

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