"For I was hungry & you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty & you gave me something to drink..."

Matthew 25:35

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Braided Spaghetti Bread (spaghetti baked inside garlic bread)

if you have something against carbs then this isn't for you. in fact, you should stop reading now because your eyes will probaby fall out of your head in shock at the amount of carbs in this dish.

pasta baked into bread. is that even legal? dear God i hope so- because i'm so guilty.
this is another Pinterest find. if/when i get fat i'm going to figure out a way to sue Pinterest. because it's their fault...not my lack of self control.

Now, you'll need to plan ahead just a bit. This recipe calls for a thawed loaf of Rhodes bread Dough & it takes 6-8 hours for the bread to thaw at room temp.

Braided Spaghetti Bread (adapted from Rhodes bake-n-serve blog)
You Need:
1 loaf Rhodes Bread Dough, thawed to room temp
6 oz spaghetti cooked (i used angel hair)
1 cup thick spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup cooked italian sausage or cooked hamburg (optional)
8 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 in cubes
parmesan cheese
2 tblsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
dried basil

Directions: Pre heat oven to 350° Lay out a large sheet of parchment paper (do it. don't even both trying to go sans the paper. i'm 99% sure you'll make a mess when trying to transfer) & roll your loaf out into a 12x16 rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap & let it rest while you get everything else ready (10 min or so)

Cook your spaghetti (or angel hair) according to directions & drain. Mix in the tomato sauce & italian sausage/hamburg (optional) & let it cool slightly while you continue to prepare.

Cut your block of mozzarella into chunks.

Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish & stire in the minced garlic & a few shakes of basil. Uncover the dough & using a pastry brush, brush a little more than 1/2 of the butter mixture onto the dough.

Now spoon the spaghetti lengthwise in a 4-inch strip down the center of the dough- top with the mozzarella chunks.

make cuts 1 1/2 inches apart on the long sides of the dough to within 1/2 inch of the filling.

Start braiding by folding the strips towards the filling- braid left over right, right over left, etc etc- all the way down.
Finish the ends by pulling the strips over & tucking under the braid

Then brush the remainder of the garlic butter all over the top of the bread. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese, a little more basil & some garlic powder. I also added smoked paprika.

Slide the parchment paper to a large baking sheet & bake in your pre heated oven for 30 min- until golden brown. Let it rest for about 5 minutes & then slice to serve.

(here's an iPhone pic of the leftovers)

Lunch- leftover baked spaghetti in garlic bread. #carbs

This was incredible. How could it not be? Past + Bread + Butter + Garlic...you get the idea. It was also so much food. Enough for dinner 2 + nights & leftovers on the 3rd day.

& you can totally put your own spin on this bad boy- next time I'm going to make this with broccoli & chicken & cheese. Adding broccoli makes it healthy- of course.
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Monkey Bread

I've made Monkey Bread before- but it was the quick out of the can method. Which is awesome & works when you want monkey bread right now. But I have this love affair with making dough, letting it rise, smelling the yeast...it makes me feel rather pioneer'ish & primal. Does that make sense?
So last Sunday I got to gettin' & made some dough- cut it up- rolled it in butter & sugar & then ate way too much. I really did- my stomach revolted later that night & Pepto became my best friend.
Was it worth it? Hell yes.

Monkey Bread (via recipe girl)

Total Prep Time: 1 hour Total Rise Time: 2 hours Bake Time: 30 minutes
You Need:
1 cup warm milk (about 110°)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110°)
2 tblsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package instant (rapid rise) yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for surface work
2 teaspoons salt

Brown Sugar Coating:
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon1
3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted

Glaze (optional):
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk

1. Place rack in middle-low position of your oven, making sure that there are no racks placed above it. Spray bundt pan generously with nonstick spray.

2. Prepare dough: In a microwave-safe bowl, mix milk, water, melted butter, sugar and yeast. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough hook attachment to mix them together. With machine on low, slowly add the milk mixture. When the dough begins to come together, increase speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is shiny and smooth. If the dough is too wet and isn’t coming together, add 2 to 4 additional Tablespoons of flour (stop the machine once to scrape sides if you need to); this should take 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work with your hands a little bit to form a smooth, round ball. Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray. Place dough in the bowl and spray the top lightly with nonstick spray as well. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. Turn your oven on 400 degrees and let it warm up for 1 minute. Turn it OFF. Turn ON the oven light. Place your covered bowl of dough into the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size- 50 to 60 minutes.

3. When dough is almost done rising, prepare the brown sugar coating. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, melt the butter. Set aside.

4. Form the bread balls: Remove dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 64 pieces (cut the square into 4 pieces and then cut each piece into 16 pieces). Roll each piece into a ball. Dip a ball in the melted butter, then roll in brown sugar mixture; place into the bundt pan. Continue with remaining 63 balls of dough, layering the balls as they accumulate in the bundt pan. If you have any melted butter left over, drizzle a couple of tblsp (not all of it) over the layered dough balls. Cover the bundt pan with a clean dish towel, and place back into the warmed oven to let the dough balls rise for another 50 to 60 minutes (they should get puffy and rise almost to the top of the pan.)

5. Ready to bake: Remove the pan from the oven and preheat oven to 350°. Remove the dishtowel. Bake about 30 minutes, until the top has browned and ooey gooey caramel is bubbling around the edges. Immediately flip the bundt pan upside down onto a platter to remove the contents of the pan. Let sit on the platter for a few minutes to cool slightly before glazing.

6. Prepare glaze: In the bowl of your stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to mix powdered sugar and milk. Continue to mix until lumps are gone (scrape sides of the mixing bowl, if needed). Spoon glaze over the top and sides of the monkey bread.

7. Serve warm, allowing eaters to pull apart pieces of the bread and eat with their hands....like monkeys.

As you can see, I went sans the glaze this time. Monkey Bread is insanely sweet & I wanted to bring it to work the next day too & usually the glaze is rather "meh" by the next morning. So no glaze this time. But glaze is good- so so good.
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Quinoa Macaroni & Cheese

This dinner was an attempt to have my cake & eat it too. Macaroni & cheese. But healthified.
It worked & it was really good. Plus, it gave me something new to do with our loads of quinoa- win.

Quinoa Macaroni & Cheese (adapted from iowa girl eats, via monica nelson fitness)
You Need:
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup sun dried tomato pesto
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed & drained
pinch of kosher salt
some seasoned salt
3 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
panko bread crumbs, smoked paprika, etc etc for topping (optional)

Directions: Pre heat oven to 350° & coat a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tomato paste, garlic & quinoa. Cook, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Stir in the water, salt & seasoned salt- cover & reduce heat to medium-low & simmer for 15 min (until 99% of the liquid has been absorbed & the quinoa is cooked through)- Remove fromt he heat & allow to sot for 5 minutes.
While the quinoa is sitting- whisk together the eggs & milk. Stir into the quinoa along with the cheddar cheese- you should see the cheese melting.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish & top with Panko & smoked paprika (optional)
Bake for 25-30 min until browned around the edges.

Dish out & top with anything you want (sour cream, tomatoes, etc etc)

This was SO good! I did make some changes- i left out the leeks & tomatoes that the original recipe called for (because i had neither)- but i did add tomato pesto & next time i think I'll toss in some broccoli or kale.
This was enough for dinner for the husband & I + leftovers.
Total score.
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White Chicken & Artichoke Lasagna

Another Pinterest find. Thanks to the fact that i use my crock pot (on low for 6 hours) to cook 1-1 1/2 lbs of chicken breast every other week or so & then shred it with my KitchenAid & store it in the fridge/freezer- this came together quickly & at the last minute (even with a little...helper on hand as you'll see below)
I did make some changes & if/when I make this again I'll tweak a bit more- but I'll go over that at the end of this post.
Needless to say- artichoke? chicken? cheese? This was delicious!

White Chicken & Artichoke Lasagna (adapted from Kraft recipes)
You Need:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1 package (8 oz) Kraft shredded Mozzarella Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia, divided*
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sun dried tomato pesto*
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, softened*
1 cup milk (i used whipping cream because i needed to get rid of it)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tblsp dried basil*
12 lasagna noodles, prepared (you can cook them in advance, or- place them in a baking dish & cover with hot water for at least 10 minutes- this softens them up nicely & prevents overcooking them)

Directions: Pre heat oven to 350°
Combine the chicken, artichokes, 1 cup mozzarella, parmesan & tomato pesto in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat the cream cheese, milk & garlic powder with mixer until well blended & 1/2 the basil. Mix 1/2 of this mixture with the chicken mixture.

In a 9x13 baking dish (or 2 smaller baking dishes- this freezes well!) spread 1/2 of the remaining cream cheese mixture onto the bottom.

Top with 3 noodles & 1/2 of the chicken mixture. Add another layer of 3 boodles. Then another layer of 1/3 chicken mixture. 1 more layer of 3 noodles & the rest of the chicken mixture.

Top with the remaining 3 noodles & spread the other 1/2 of the remaining cream cheese mixture over the top.

Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella & the remaining basil on top.

Spray a piece of foil with non-stick cookie spray & cover the lasagna. Bake @ 350 for 25-30 minutes (I like to remove the foil 1/2 way through) Remove from the oven & let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

*Things to be noted OR things I did/will do differently
* the Kraft Mozzarella Cheese sugested? get it! it's awesome- like regular Mozzarella but creamier. i used a little extra mozzarella- so i used 1 package of Kraft + regular mozzarella.
*i used Sun Dried Tomato Pesto because the original recipe called for "oil packed sun dried tomatoes" & i couldn't find them to save my life. plus, i'm not a fan of chunks of cooked tomatoes- so the pesto worked well for me.
*i think 2 packages of creem cheese made this stuff really creamy & rich. like, too much. so next time i'm going to use 1 package of cream cheese + 8 oz of ricotta cheese.
*the original recipe called for 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped. my local grocery store was fresh out & my basil plant didn't have nearly enough. so dried it was.

So, my verdict? Awesome. But I'll definately keep my changes & tweak some more next time. I might toss in a few more lasagna noodles too. I like a more pasta to filling ratio.
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Andes Mint Cookies

these cookies only require 4 ingredients. one of which being Andes Mints. that should be more than enough info for you to make these asap- no?

Andes Mint Cookies (from six sisters stuff)
You Need:
1 box Devil's Food Cake mix
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 package Andes Mints (or 2 packages. in case you eat some. which you will.)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350° & line baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper)
Mix cake mix, oil & eggs together. Using a small cookie scop, drop spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes & then remove the baking sheet from the oven- immediately press an Andes onto the top of each cookie- return the baking sheet to the oven for 30 seconds or so. Remove & spread the Andes with the back of a spoon.
Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or so & then cool on a wire rack.

Pour a glass of milk & eat at least 3 right away. it's only right.

These were awesome. I ate them warm & once they were set. Warm was best (as is always the case with cookies) but set was awesome too.
They also ship really well- I let them set & then wrapped them up & mailed some off to a friend.

I also played around with the baking times. The original directions state to bake for 6-9 minutes, take them out, press the Andes on top & give it 5 minutes to melt.

Meh- I decided that my way worked much better. because i'm a genius.
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread

This past Sunday was the Superbowl. If you didn't know that then you either live in a different country or you're one of the crazy people who don't want cable tv.
Yeah I said it- crazy.
The thought of giving up cable frankly makes me a bit stabby. And twitchy. And I don't want to think about it anymore.

Let's focus on this carb fest instead. Doughy & yeasty & salty & cheesy. Insanely good. Even better the next day so much better that I ate a lot more than any 1 person should. I felt rathy guilty but I just couldn't stop.

Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread (adapted from pastry affair)
You Need:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups barely warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt (kosher)
3 1/2 cups all purpose (or bread) flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon dried basil flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or the stuff in the can)

Directions: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast and water. Let sit 5 minutes until yeast is foamy. Mix in the olive oil, salt, and flour. If you have a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes, or until elastic. If you are doing this by hand, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until dough is elastic, 7-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until dough is doubled in size. (i let mine rise for 2+ hours)

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, basil flakes, and minced garlic. Set aside.

Punch down the dough. Tear off small pieces of dough (roughly the size of a gumball) coat in the butter mixture, and place in the bottom of a bundt pan. Repeat this process until you have one layer of dough balls. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese. Continue layering the dough balls and cheese until you have 3 layers.

Cover the pan with a clean towel and allow to sit until dough has doubled in size, 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown. Serve hot with a side of marinara or tomato sauce.
The original recipe called for dried parsley- but I used basil instead. I also used kosher salt.
This was good dipped in tomato sauce- but I actually preferred it without dipping.
I think dipping it in flavored olive oil would be ever better.

Obviously the dough was made from scratch- but in a pinch you could definately sub in some Pillsbury canned dough or even thawed bread dough.
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Jacques Torres's Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

According to the NY Times, Martha Stewart (& Pinterest), these are the best Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever. The end.
Well snap- that's a pretty big claim. A claim that I couldn't just accept without trying myself, of course. So I made sure to grab some $$$ bittersweet chocolate & bread flour on my last grocery run.
Then I tested my own patience by actually letting the dough sit in my fridge for at least 24 hours before baking.
Yes, it was torturous. All that dough....in my fridge...want cookies now...eat an apple? Damn.

But my need to follow the direction prevailed & 26 hours later (see, i even tacked on an extra 2 for good measure) i started scooping out dough.

The verdict? Well, I'll give my 2 cents at the end.

Jacques Torres's Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
You Need:
1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
sea salt or fleur de sel(optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with Siplat or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder & baking soda. Whisk together & set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars until light & fluffy- about 5 minutes. Reduce to medium speed & add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce speed to low & add the vanilla. Then slowly add the flour mixture & mix until just combined.
Then add the chocolate & mix until well combined.
Cover your dough with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. 36 is better, 72 is fabulous. You get the idea.

The next day:

Using a large scoop for larger cookies or a small scoop for smaller cookies (i used a small scoop. 1 oz or so), scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 15-20 min for larger cookies and about 12-15 minutes for smaller cookies (my small cookies cooked in about 12 minutes).

As soon as you pull the cookies out, sprinkle with sea salt or fleur de sel (optional)

Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Or eat them warm- because everyone knows that's the natural way.

My verdict:
- These were good. really good. the chopped bittersweet chocolate makes a nice melted ribbon throughout the entire cookie. The flavor is incredible & the sea salt sprinkle adds that dash of salty & sweet.
The texture was perfect. Crispy & chewy. They were amazing warm & just as good at room temp.
I do see what everyone is raving about.

BUT- I really don't think they're the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Not even close actually. Mrs. Fields & Toll House still hold my heart. or mouth. whatever. And I actually prefer a much softer & chewy cookie- so my Flat & Chewy Cookies are still my go to recipe.

Will I make these again? Probably- when I have time & patience & I want to get a little fancy. But like I said, waiting to bake cookies? Pure torture.
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Lofthouse Style Frosted Cookies

Once again Pinterest has given me an excuse to eat a ridiculous amount of sugar.
I don't think I've ever met anyone who doesn't like Lofthouse cookies. They melt in your mouth for crying out loud- it's like some sort of black magic. I don't want to like them- because hello, homemade stuff is best right? But screw it- those things are addicting.

So, thanks to a cookie exchange i participated in, i decided to try my hand at some homemade Lofthouse cookies.
They were a little bit of work- but so worth it. Soft & sweet & covered with sprinkles. That description alone should have you searching your pantry for what you'll need to make these.

Lofthouse Style Frosted Cookies (adapted from sweet peas kitchen)
You Need:
6 cups of flour, divided
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream

1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
6 tblsp whipping cream
food coloring (i used gel)

Directions: In a medium bowl sift together 5 cups of flour, baking soda & baking powder; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat beater attached, cream the butter & sugar until light & fluffy (3-5 minutes) scraping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs one at a time beating till each is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla & sour cream & beat at low speed until combined.
Add the dry ingredients & beat at a low speed until just combined. scrap down the bowl as needed. The dough needs to be the right consistancy for rolling, so add 1/4 cup of the remaining flour at a time until you reach the desired consistancy (up to 1 full cup of flour. i used a full cup.)
Divide the dough into two sections & flatten into rectangles about 1 1/2 in thick. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill in the fridge overnight.

Pre heat the oven to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with Silpat (or parchment paper).
Generoualy (& i mean generously) flour your work area & rolling pin. Roll out one of the logs of dough to 1/4 in thickness. Using a 2 1/2 in cookie cutter, cut out circles & transfer to the cookie sheets. Bake 7-8 minutes until pale but golden. Immediately transfer the cookies to a rack & allow to cool.
Repeat the above until all of your dough is used up.

Once your cookies have cooled completely, make the frosting.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater cream together the butter & vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, alternating with the whipping cream, until smooth & creamy & your desired spreading consistancy has been achieved. Then add a few drops of food coloring (if desired).
Now get frosting. I layed out all my cookies on the counter & started frosting with a small curved spatula. I'd frost a couple & then add the sprinkles (before the frosting hardened up)- then I'd keep going. On & on. Once you finish allow the frosting to set & store the cookies i an air tight container. Try & let your cookies sit for a few hours to let all the flavor meld

Yields: around 4 1/2 dozen. give or take.

Like i said, these were so worth the effort. They were delish & I ate way more than I care to admit. They also shipped well, i wrapped each set cookie in plastic wrap & put them in a container.

You can switch these up & server for Valentines day or Christmas or whatever. They're also great for gifts (because who wouldn't want cookies? who?!)

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