Friday, July 29, 2011

Fresh Peach Bread with Streusel

This bread is excellent.  The nuts in the streusel get all toasted and so yummy and the fresh peaches add a little surprise in each bite.  It was on my must make while peaches are in season.  I felt almost guilty using those delicious juicy peaches for baking.  ALMOST!  After baking this bread, the guilt was gone.  The juice from the peaches goes through the batter too. YUH-UMMM!  We really enjoyed this bread, can you tell?


PEACH BREAD WITH STEUSEL TOPPING

adapted from Tasty Kitchen

INGREDIENTS:


  • 2 cups Fresh Peaches, Chopped Into 1/2 Inch Cubes (can use more if you like ;-)
  • 2 cup White Sugar, Divided Use
  • 1-½ cup All-purpose Flour, Unbleached
  • 1-½ cup White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Canola Oil (I used a small thing of drained applesauce and the rest oil to equal 1cup)
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
STREUSEL TOPPING
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup AP Flour
  • 1/3 brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Chop the peaches into 1/2 inch size pieces and place in a bowl. Place 2 tablespoons of the sugar on the peaches and stir, set aside.
In large bowl mix all purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl mix the wet ingredients: eggs, the remaining sugar, oil and vanilla.
Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and mix until almost completely mixed, you should still be able to see some of the dry ingredients.
Add the peaches and stir a couple of times until just mixed. Do not over mix. Pour into 2 greased 9 X 5 loaf pans.
Mix streusel with fingers or fork then add nuts.  Sprinkle over batter and bake for 50-60 minutes. Test to see if the loaves are done with wooden skewer or toothpick. When it comes out clean or with crumbs on it, it is done.  Don't overbake!
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then take the loaves out and cool on a rack for 30 minutes.  Drizzle with glaze.

FOR GLAZE:
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract and 1 TBSP of milk.  Whisk and add more sugar until thick but still drizzles in ribbons.  

Potato Pancakes

  


Every now and then when I was growing up my dad would get a hankering for potato pancakes and would whip some up.  We would eat them as fast as he could make them.  Spread some butter over them and eat them with our fingers when they were almost too hot to hold.  I love them!
Some grate onion into it, but I enjoy the pure potato variety more.  This was how my Polish grandfather made them.  

Now I get a hankering and can whip them.  Never seem to be as great as my dad's though.  Anyway, we made some the other night and my kids gobbled them up!  They liked to dip them in sour cream which is how my husband likes them too, but I still prefer them with just butter.

NOTE:  My husband does not like that these are called "pancake", because they are in no way sweet and they are more like a hash brown.  But they are what they are.  ;-)

POTATO PANCAKES

  • 6 white potatoes (mine were large, so maybe up to 8 if they are smallish)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp onion powder
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2-2/3 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. milk
DIRECTIONS:
Using a food processor, grate potatoes.  Dump out potatoes and switch attachment to regular one.  Dump potatoes back in and pulse until reduced to mealy consistency (sounds appetizing, right?) so it looks like this.
   
  Dump in large bowl.  Add salt, pepper, onion powder, and flour.  Depending on how much water is in your potatoes, add more flour.  Add milk to thin and mix.  Heat griddle on medium high heat.  Once hot, grease with some butter and use ladle to put on skillet.  (I reduced heat on my iron griddle to med. here) Cook until golden on one side, about 4-5 minutes, and then the other.  Serve hot with butter and/or sour cream.

Ranch House Crock Pot Chicken with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes




This was SO easy and was SO tasty! Crock pot meals are normally good, but not great.  This one was great!
Thursday night are a bit crazy because my oldest has gymnastics at 5-6:15 which would be dinner prep time.  The solution is the good old crock pot.  This dish was originally made with pork, but I changed it to chicken because I don't eat pork.  Not for any reason other than I don't like it.  But I do love chicken.  
I was very hesitant that a recipe so simple could be good, but the sauce or gravy is full of flavor.  Sop it up with crusty bread good.  The chicken was fall apart tender.  So, brace yourselves.  You need 5 things for this chicken recipe, one being the crock pot. 

RANCH HOUSE CROCK POT CHICKEN
Adapted from http://picky-palate.com

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 large chicken breast halved thinner to make into 6
  • 1 can healthy request cream of chicken soup
  • 1 packet dry ranch dressing
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
DIRECTIONS:

Dump ranch dressing and soup into crock pot.  Mix.  Dump chicken into crock.  Cover and cook 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 on low (I did high and it was 3.5 hours). Pork may need longer  When it is done, whisk in the sour cream.  Serve with parmesan mashed potatoes.

PARMESAN MASHED POTATOES

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 lbs peeled, cubed potatoes
  • 5 Tablespoons real butter
  • 1 Cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Bulb of roasted garlic 
  • 1- 1 1/2 Cups warm skim milk (any milk will work)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut off top of garlic bulb and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Wrap tight in foil and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and tender.  Remove.  Squeeze bottom to get out cloves of garlic.
  Place potatoes into a large pot of cold water. Place onto stovetop over high heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile,  Once water is boiling, cook for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and transfer to the work bowl of a stand or electric mixer. Mix on low until potatoes are mashed then add butter, parmesan, garlic, milk (start with less), salt and pepper. Season to taste if needed. For thinner mashed potatoes add more milk, slowly until your desired consitency.
Scoop mashed potatoes onto serving plates and top with chicken/pork chops and soup gravy from crock pot. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Greens and Beans



My grandmother makes this all the time.  I made this last week when my in-laws were visiting.  We all had seconds of it.  How many times do you get seconds of the veggie?  This is a wonderful side dish that is so healthy and packed with vitamins and tastes wonderful!  I love this dish.  I could make a meal out of it.  You can add more broth and make it like a soup.  I like a shallot in it too, but didn't put it in this time because I didn't have any.  Make sure to top it with lots of parmesan cheese!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


GREENS AND BEANS


INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced (depends on size)
  • OPT. Shallot, minced very fine
  • 2 (15 oz) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lb. of greens (I used a mixed bag) can use frozen chopped spinach if desired (turnip greens, or beet greens...not salad)
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese
DIRECTIONS:


Heat oil in large skillet. Add garlic (and shallot if desired); saute about 2 minutes. Add beans, greens, and 1 cup broth. Boil until greens are tender.  Add more broth if desired.  We like a little bit of broth in it.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve topped with parmesan cheese.  Can also toast some Italian bread crumbs for top if desired, or red pepper flakes for a kick.

Root Beer BBQ Chicken




I saw this on my friends Cristine's fabulous blog: http://cristinecooks.blogspot.com/ 
awhile back and have been wanting to make it.  It is hard to keep root beer in our house though because my husband will drink it if it's around.  I finally made it the other night, and it was absolutely delicious.  The chicken was so tender and full of flavor.  The kids all loved it.
I made the BBQ sauce too and honestly, while it was very good, to me it was not necessarily better than some other sauces I have had.  I would definitely make the chicken again.  Not sure this particular BBQ sauce is needed though, to make it as fabulous as it was.

Root Beer BBQ Chicken
Recipe from Prudence Pennywise

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cans root beer, divided use
  • 1/2 cup smoky barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, plus 1/4 cup more for marinade
  • brown sugar, if needed
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 1 TBSP each paprika and garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
DIRECTIONS:

In a small saucepan, boil one can root beer until thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup each smoky barbecue sauce and 1/2 cup Dijon (I used Honey Dijon). Taste this sauce and add brown sugar if the sauce needs a little sweetness. (Notes: you should have plenty of extra sauce for dipping-just reserve half of it before spreading it on the chicken.)

Meanwhile, smear chicken with Dijon. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder; drizzle with olive oil. Place in zip top bag. Pour root beer over chicken, cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Grill or broil chicken, about five minutes per side, or until outside is nicely browned and inside is no longer pink. Baste with BBQ sauce while cooking.











Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Banana Cinnamon Rolls



These were very good cinnamon rolls.  But I was very conflicted about them.  You see, I smelled the wonderful yeast smell of baking bread, and then I smelled banana bread.  My nose was confused as to what I was making.  I was also confused with taste.  Same deal.  But they were very good.  I think for me though, I would prefer to let my cinnamon roll be a cinnamon roll and my banana bread to be banana bread. 
  
These rolls were dense, sticky and came out beautifully.  I can't imagine anyone turning one of these down or wrinkling their nose.  They have all the makings of a great bun. I guess I just wasn't ready for the fusion of flavors.  But I still ate a whole one by myself, so really, how can I complain? 






BANANA CINNAMON ROLLS
Adapted from http://www.boneats.ca/2010/03/ooey-gooey-banana-cinnamon-buns.html
Makes 12 

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk, heated to 105 to 115°F
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar (or honey)
  • 2 cups bread or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
some chocolate chips in this one!

For the filling:
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
For the frosting:
  • 1/4 cup softened butter 
  • about 3 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp milk
  • about 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 


DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, stir 1 tablespoon of the sugar into the warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let rest for 10 minutes.

While the yeast is coming to life, in a separate bowl, stir together the flours, cinnamon, remaining tablespoons of sugar and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the mashed bananas, melted margarine and the yeast/milk mixture after it has bloomed. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients on medium low until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Slowly mix in the rest of the flour and mix.

Switch the attachment to the dough hook. At this point, your dough may still feel quite wet and soft. Add some flour, a tablespoon at a time, while the machine is running on medium low until the dough starts to come away from the bowl. (I added 7 TBSP.)  Knead for about 10 minutes. The dough will be ready when it has formed a nice ball, but is still very soft and slightly tacky to the touch, but comes away cleanly from the bowl. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour or more (I did about 2 hours), or until it has doubled in size.

Punch the dough down; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Roll the dough into a 12 x 16ish-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Smear the dough with the softened butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture, spreading it around the whole surface of the dough with your hand  So fun to play with my food). Roll up the rectangle tightly, from the long side, and pinch the seam to seal. Cut the roll into 12 even slices. (This will be a messy process, as the sugar/butter mixture will start oozing out. Don’t be afraid of it. Just go at it.) Place the slices, cut sides down, in a greased 9x13 baking pan. Give them a little bit of space in between as they will rise. Cover with plastic wrap and pop them in the fridge to rise overnight.

In the morning, pull the cinnamon buns from the fridge a half hour (or an hour or so) before baking and place them on top of the stove while the oven preheats to 375°F (if using a glass or dark-coloured pan like I was, reduce the temperature by 25°F). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown.

Remove the cinnamon buns from the oven and set on top of the stove to let cool a bit. In a bowl, whisk the softened cream cheese and softened butter.  Dump in the vanilla, whisk, then add the powdered sugar.  Add the splash of milk and whisk. Frost and eat while warm.

JUNK (Pope's bread or Pane papato)




This is an Italian fruit snack/bread that is packed with dried fruit and nuts and is like candy.  It is traditionally made around Christmas.  It keeps forever, is great for traveling (no crumbs), is very versatile and tastes so wonderful!  This can be made with any dried fruit.  Traditionally it had cocoa powder and candied fruit rinds (orange, lemon).  I like it the way my grandmother makes it though.  Lot of nuts, honey and dried fruit.   We used almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts traditionally, but you could used walnuts, and any other nuts you want.  You could probably do candied ginger in teeny tiny pieces too.  I even added sesame seeds this time.  Pretty easy really, and it makes a lot to last you.  I freeze my loaves and take them out as needed.  I have heard you can seep them in wine too.  But we love it sliced and eat it like an energy bar. The name "Junk" came from my mom's because she couldn't say "Pane Papato" and it stuck.  It is my father-in-law's favorite!

JUNK or POPE'S BREAD

INGREDIENTS: what I used
  • 1 lb. almonds
  • 1 lb. pecans
  • 3 TBSP sesame seeds
  • 1 lb. dried pineapple
  • 1 cup dried dates
  • 1 cup dried raisins
  • 1 cup dried strawberries
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup dried mango
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon (I like a lot. Start with less, and go by your nose. Could even use pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (my dad doesn't like the oatmeal, but I do :-)
  • 32 ounces (2 LB.) honey
  • 1-2 cup of whole wheat flour and more for kneading in
DIRECTIONS:

Pour all nuts and dried fruit in a bowl.  Add spices you desire.  Toss to coat.  Dump in honey.  You want it to be coated well.  (this is the only binder in it).  Add the flour and stir.  Add some more until it looks like this.

Sprinkle about 1 cup flour on counter and put some big spoonfuls down on top.
Knead the flour into the bread and begin forming a loaf from it.  Like this.
It will begin to hold together.  Don't do too much flour.  You want it to hold loaf for, but not be dry.  After you knead it, working the flour in, form a loaf about 1 1/2" tall, 4 inches wide and 10-12" long.  Like this.  

Line a cookie sheet with parchment and preheat oven to 350. Transfer carefully to cookie sheet.
Make more loaves to put on the cookie sheet like this.
Bake until just begins to brown, about 30 minutes.  Don't overcook!  When it comes out it will be hard and seem impossible to eat.  Will look like this:
When cool, use a very sharp knife to slice.  Enjoy!

Pesto Tomato Melts



These sandwiches were just wonderful.  Close your eyes and "MMM!" good.  We all really enjoyed them! And they were super simple to make.  We used a sunflower bread because we all enjoy a hearty bread with some crunch.  But they would be fabulous on any kind of bread.  So go on and make them!  You won't be sorry!

PESTO TOMATO MELTS
made 4 sandwiches

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 8 oz. sliced mozzerella cheese (we used fresh)
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 8 slices bread
  • 2 TBSP butter
DIRECTIONS:

Warm griddle pan on medium heat.  Butter one side of each piece of bread.  On the other side spread pesto on each slice.  Slice tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Place on 4 slices of bread.  Place sliced cheese on top and top with other bread, butter side out (obviously, we are making glorified grilled cheese here people!).  Place on hot griddle and let sit until nice deep golden brown.  Turn over.  If the cheese oozes out, don't worry about it.  It just makes it that much better, I assure you.  Cook until golden brown on both sides, cut and enjoy!

Watermelon Sorbet


I love sorbet.  I love how it is light and refreshing.  When we lived in Los Angeles, we would frequent the zoo.  They had fresh watermelon juice which had chunks of watermelon and I would always mix it with lemonade.  I get so I crave it now.  It is so refreshing and just make me happy.  This is great, without being too sweet.  I added about 5 strawberries because I just couldn't resist and it was wonderful.  A great refreshing summer treat.  I apologize for the pictures... was losing daylight and it was melting quick!


WATERMELON SORBET




INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 cups diced watermelon
  • about 5-6 strawberries
  • 1/4 lime juice (about 2 limes)
DIRECTIONS:

Bring water to a boil and add sugar.  Boil for a minute until sugar is dissolves.  Let cool.
   Blend all ingredients in blender in batches, until mixed.  Can put through strainer if you want it really smooth, but I like the strawberry seeds.   Chill  for 2 hours.  Put in ice cream maker for 30 minutes.  Transfer to container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cilantro Pesto Pasta


This is a dish that I have been making almost for 12 years.  I have not made it for way too long and we missed this dish.  It is so good and worth making for sure.  The combination of ingredients may sound odd,(the beans) but it works!  This is great cold too.  Enjoy!

CILANTRO PESTO PASTA
adapted from: Betty Crocker

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb. cooked pasta
  • 1 can reduced sodium black beans
  • 1 onion caramelized
  • 1 can diced tomatoes drained or 2 diced/seeded tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 1 lb. chicken
  • 1 TBSP butter and olive oil, divided use
  • Cilantro Pesto (recipe below)
DIRECTIONS:

Dice chicken in bite size chunks and lightly pan fry in a tiny bit of butter and olive oil.  (Chicken will release juices and you want it a little browned so don't add too much grease).  Season as it is cooking with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cook until just cooked through, transfer to plate and return skillet to stove.  Slice onion thin and place in hot skillet, over med- high heat with a bit of olive oil and butter.  Cook a few minutes and reduce heat to medium.  Let cook until onion are soft and browned and sweet, mixing every few minutes so not to burn.  This will take about 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta. (reserve 1/2 cup pasta water to thin pesto if needed)  Add beans, tomatoes and chicken to onions.  Add cooked pasta and cilantro pesto.  Toss to coat, adding some pasta water to thin, if needed.  Top with more parmesan cheese or even some goat cheese chunks and enjoy!

CREAMY CILANTRO PESTO

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • heaping 1/3 cup good parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (more if no cream)
  • 1/4 cup cream (to make regular omit and add more evoo)
  • pinch cayenne
DIRECTIONS:

Clean cilantro and remove stems (they tend to get stringy) and dry.  Place in food processor with pine nuts and garlic cloves.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  Stream in olive oil and process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper and lemon zest and juice and pulse.  Add parm. cheese and cream in and stir by hand or pulse.  Cover tightly to maintain color until ready to use.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Berry Tart (the miracle)



 This is my miracle tart.  I had made my crust and pastry cream and was bringing in my berries to wash and dry to top it all.  I was so proud of how glorious it was all turning out.  And a tart is a fairly time consuming thing.  Easy, but many steps to get the end result.  My sweet little girl wanted to see the most beautiful tart and opened the over full fridge to take a peek.  That is when I heard the crashing of a pan to the floor and the tears started to fall (not really, but need to add some drama here).  I looked at the floor and saw no tart.  Where could it be?  It was in perfect form, upside down on the door of the fridge.  So, yelling for my husband to help, I lifted it (it broke in my hands) and placed it back in the pan.  I lost some pastry cream (which is a glorified vanilla pudding; so wonderful) and my husband lovingly cleaned that up, with his fingers and mouth.     
So there is a the tale of the miracle berry tart.  Which, by the way, was outstanding and we enjoyed every single morsel of.  Even that which was on the refrigerator door.


This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan.


SWEET TART DOUGH

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor pulse flour, sugar and salt a few times.  Add butter a little at a time and pulse for a few seconds after each addition.  Once all added, pulse until coarse crumb.  Add egg yolk and pulse in 10 second increments until dough forms.  Pour out onto clean surface and incorporate any loose dry ingredients with a light kneading.  Butter tart pan and press dough into pan.  Freeze for at least 30 minutes (longer the better).  Preheat oven to 375.  Butter shiny side of foil and press into crust.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Carefully remove the foil. If the crust is puffy, use the back of a spoon to gently press it down.  Bake for another 8 minutes or so, until the crust is golden brown.  Transfer the crust to a wire rack (still in the pan), and let it cool to room temperature before filling. (Freeze uncooked crust for up to 2 months, wrapped of course)

SWEET PASTRY CREAM

The pillage.
 INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons high-quality unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks with the sugar and cornstarch until well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk to temper the yolks so they won’t curdle.  Whisking the entire time, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk.
Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (to the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil.  Keep it at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.  (It will get thick quick!)  Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Whisk in the butter until the bits are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth.
Scrape the cream into a bowl, and place the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water. Stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is completely chilled, about 20 minutes.  Pour into prepared tart shell.  Lick the bowl.  :-)

BERRIES

Wash about 2 cups of berries (or any fruit really, peaches would be wonderful.)  and place on paper towel to dry well.  Pour over tart.  Take about 3 TBSP. of apricot jelly and microwave for 30 seconds.  Add a little water to thin (maybe 1 tsp.) and drizzle over berries to add nice shine and more deliciousness.
Eat, saying "MMM" after each bite for effect.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pizza Dough and Margherita Pizza

I have made homemade pizza dough many times and am always very disappointed.  It comes out hard and tough.  Edible, but barely.  I follow directions pretty well, so I guess they were just bad recipes.  I finally found a great one!!  It was fabulous!  YAY!
Okay, so enough rejoicing and on to the recipe!  I apologize for the shape of my pizza's.  I tried the method in their directions telling me to make the pizza and transfer it to the hot pizza stone (not possible), and will tell you how to do it right.  The key is, make this around 2 pm, if possible or day before and chill after first rise. 

PIZZA DOUGH 

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup very warm water (110 degrees, I used thermometer)
  • 1 envelope (2 1/2 tsp.) active yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups room temp. water
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups bread flour (I used almost 5 to get it to hold together)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • olive oil for greasing bowl
DIRECTIONS:

Measure  the 1/2 cup warm water in glass measuring cup.  Sprinkle in yeast and let stand for 5 minutes until it swells.  Stir with wooden spoon to ensure it is all incorporated.  Add the reamins water and olive oil and stir.

Place flour, salt and sugar into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Combine dry ingredients.  Slowly add wet ingredients and mix until a cohesive mass forms.  Swith out paddle with hook attachment and turn on low for about 5 minutes to knead, adding flour if necessary so it is not too soft or sticky.  (NOTE:  Will still be very soft and somewhat sticky, just want it somewhat workable, for me that meant about another 3/4 cup flour than the 4 called for).  Put into oiled bowl and turn so top is also oiled and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 2 or more hours(I let mine go 2.5 hrs.).
Preheat oven to 500 degrees with pizza stone inside for 30 minutes.  Press to deflate and divide into 2 equal pieces.  (Here is where you chill if desired)Put them both on floured surface and cover with a damp towel.  Leave for 10-30 minutes.  (can use pizza peel here or parchment on cookie sheet, but I opted to do it this way)  Remove stone from oven and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Pick up a dough.  Should spread really easy into circle.  Get into shape as much as possible because once on the stone it will somewhat seal the shape.  Place on stone.  Top as desired. Cook until cheese is golden and crust begins to color, 8-12 minutes.

For a variation mix in some Italian herbs to the dough.
For Margherita Pizza:
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 TBSP EV olive oil
  • some oregano 
  • mozzarella
  • fresh sliced tomatoes 
  • thinly sliced basil
  • salt and pepper

Mix olive oil, garlic and some oregano and spread over dough with fingers.  Top with cheese, tomatoes and basil and salt and pepper.

Key Lime Pie



Breaking out more of the citrus flavors!  Something about the citrus makes it feel like summer!  As if walking out into the 95 degree wall of humidity wouldn't let me know.  ;-)  This is a wonderful key lime pie, but still nothing is beating my triple citrus bars.  There is a version of key lime bars I might try sometime this summer that is also from America's Test Kitchen.

Sorry the pictures are not great.  I was losing my light.

Anyway, this is great and very tangy, so get ready to pucker up!

KEY LIME PIE
adapted from Emeril Lagasse

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 4 TBSP melted butter
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3.5 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 1 TBSP lime zest
 DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter with your fingers (I love to play with my food!).  Pour into 9 inch deep pie plate and press into place with the bottom of a measuring cup. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. 
Lower oven temp to 325.  Zest and juice key limes.  Combine condensed milk, lime juice and eggs.  Whisk in 1/2 TBSP lime zest.  Pour into pie crust, and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove, let cool 10-15 minutes and then chill for at least 2 hours to set.  Once chilled, combine sour cream and powdered sugar and spread over chilled pie.  Sprinkle with remaining lime zest.  Serve chilled.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Berries



I love lemon! We went away for a little anniversary getaway about a month ago and stayed at a fabulous bed and breakfast in Virginia Beach called Beach Spa B&B.  We enjoyed our getaway immensely, and I loved to see what they were going to serve up for breakfast.  One day they served lemon ricotta pancakes.  While theirs were delicious, the lemon was an afterthought in the light pancake.  It was a hint of lemon and I wanted more.
So, here is my version.  No question they are lemon, but not too overpowering.  While my 7 year old loved these, the other kids ate them with a little less gusto, but still ate them well.  My husband and I loved them.  So, I would say they are more of a grown up pancake.  The buttermilk just makes them that much lighter and tangy. Very light and wonderful topped with berries!

LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKES
adapted from Williams Sonoma

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (part skim) 
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or milk)
  • 3 eggs, serparated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
DIRECTIONS:

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and 1/8 tsp salt.
In a large bowl break up ricotta cheese.  Add milk, lemon extract, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest and juice and whisk until smooth (use spatula if needed to further break up ricotta). 
Add flour mixture to ricotta mixture and mix until just combined. Batter will be thick but don't over mix!
Using an electric mixer or a balloon whisk ( I used my new double whisk which I was excited about!)  mix egg white until foamy.  Add 1/8 tsp salt and whisk until holds a soft peak.  Gently fold in 1/3 of egg whites into batter.  Then gently fold in the rest.  Here is a link to show you how to fold if you don't know.  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP4vbktd-PM&feature=related
Preheat griddle to medium low and grease griddle lightly before cooking.  Ladle batter onto griddle.  Cook until bubbles form on top and flip.  Cook until golden.  Serve topped with fresh berries (sweetened if you like) and warm syrup.  Makes 12-14 pancakes.

Perfect Peach Cobbler



When I first wanted to try to make peach cobbler many years ago, I pictured more of a peach crisp.  I grew up with apple crisp, so of course peach cobbler was just that but with peaches, right?  Wrong.  Peach cobbler has a gooey cake like topping that is almost spongy and just wonderful.  It is truly best warm with some vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  Yes, both.
IT may seem strange to put the peach on top of the batter, but the batter rises up over it.  This is one of our favorite summer desserts and with peaches being so in season right now, it is the perfect time to make it!  Very easy and delicious!

PERFECT PEACH COBBLER

FILLING INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 cups sliced fresh peaches (6-8)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon)
BATTER INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350.

Peel and slice peaches and put in a bowl. Mix with sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.  Set aside to let juices come out of peaches.

Put butter in 9x13 dish and put in preheated oven to melt.  Meanwhile, whisk together flour baking soda, salt and sugar.  Add milk and whisk. When butter is melted, remove pan and pour the flour mixture to butter.  whisk a little to incorporate butter.  Pour peaches evenly over the batter.  Return to oven and bake for 45 minutes.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with PB Brown Sugar Buttercream


This cupcake is from Joy of Baking and is an delicious cupcake.  Perfect texture and just very tasty.  I completely screwed up the original recipe for the icing by adding too much peanut butter, so I had to fix it, so I can not tell you how the icing is.  While mine is still a bit too peanut buttery, it is very good.  I am sure the original recipe is excellent.  Sorry.
The combo of peanut butter frosting with this cupcake is very good though.  I could easily eat it with chocolate icing or no icing at all which is strange for me because I am an icing kind of girl.  But this is just an excellent cupcake.  Original recipe came from:
http://tidymom.net/2011/banana-buster-brown-cupcakes/

BANANA CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES 

by Joy of Baking

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 scant cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (little more than 1/3 cup)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 1 medium sized banana)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canola or corn oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.  Using a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set asideIn another large bowl, whisk remaining ingredients until combined: egg, banana, water, milk, oil, vanilla.Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until combined.Scoop batter into cupcake liners 3/4 full.Bake for 20 minuets or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.Remove from oven. Cool completely before frosting.

Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Instructions

In a heat proof bowl, whisk together egg whites, sugar and salt. Place over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking continuously until sugar is dissolved and warm to the touch.  Pour mixture into bowl of electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 15 minutes.  Raise speed to high, and mix until stiff peaks form (this took about 7 minutes).  Reduce speed to medium-low and add peanut butter a little at a time, then butter, 1 tablespoon as a time until fully mixed.  Pipe onto cupcakes.