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Cheddar Bay Biscuits (Red Lobster Biscuits)

13 Dec

I’ve never been shy about the fact that I’m not a seafood fan.  However, my in-laws are, and they also love Red Lobster.  I’ve gone there on occasion with them, but I always get a steak or chicken meal.  I know, I know, that’s like going to a renowned steak place and getting ground beef, but I just can’t bring myself to order a fish dish knowing that I may not like it.  Though, with that being said, if I were to ever do so and end up not liking it, at least at Red Lobster I could just eat the biscuits!  Oh man, how delicious would that be?!

Knowing how much my husband loves their biscuits, I remember trying biscuit mixes in college trying to replicate them for my then boyfriend.  Never once did they come close!  For a while now I’ve had this recipe starred in my Google Reader ready to try but I’ve never gotten around to it.  The recipe requires Bisquick mix and I’m not opposed to that, however it’s not something I typically have in the pantry, but when it was on sale super cheap at my grocery store and temperatures began dropping (drastically!) I knew that it was time to try these biscuits.  The recipe looked like it would replicate the flavors well, and given the number of posts I’d seen with this recipe I figured it couldn’t be bad, however I had a nice big batch of beef stew that we could fill up on should the side dish be a flop.

Flop they were not!  After Rob tried a bite, the first thing he said I can’t really write on here as I’d have to put a rating on here.  Needless to say, they were a hit.  Plus, since I was making just for the two of us we had LOTS leftover.  I froze the leftovers and have since tried them from the freezer – still delicious!  Just thaw them in the fridge overnight and throw in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes to heat through and crisp up the edges a bit.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits (Red Lobster Biscuits)
Ingredients:
2 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine Bisquick, garlic powder and cheese in a medium bowl.  Stir in milk until just combined.  Using a cookie scoop place drops of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter.  Stir in parsley and garlic salt.  When the timer goes off after 10 minutes, brush the butter mixture onto the biscuits.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Optional: Before serving, brush biscuits with additional butter mixture.

Source: Pennies on a Platter

Hamburger Buns

17 Sep

There are many things I want to try in the kitchen, and yeast bread making is definitely one of them.  I decided to take the leap and try these Brioche burger buns I’ve had on my list to try for a few months.  I always get annoyed  that when I want burgers, Sloppy Joes, or household favorite Spicy Chicken Sandwiches, I have to plan 3-4 bun-friendly meals, which rarely equates to figure-friendly.  The reason for planning that way is that I hate to buy a package of hamburger buns just to use only half of it!  I know people say you can freeze store-bought bread products, but come on… they’re nasty thawed out.  That being said, I do believe that heartier bread products, and those made without nasty chemicals do freeze and thaw well, which is why I finally broke down and tried my hand a burger buns, so I could freeze the leftovers to use later.


The buns were actually easier to make than I expected and tasted every bit as good as I’d hoped.  The only thing I’ll change in the future is to make more buns in smaller sizes.  I don’t know if my dough rose too much, or if I just like smaller buns, but I think the amount of dough I had would have easily made 10-12 decent size buns.  If you like yours bigger, by all means divide into 8 equal sections as the recipe calls.

Light Brioche Burger Buns
Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup AP flour
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
For Topping:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Sesame Seeds

Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated.  Mix in the butter.  Switch to the dough hood and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes.  The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts.  Gently roll each portion of the dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart.  Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hour, until puffed up and nearly doubled.

Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with a rach in the center.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.  Bake the buns about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie’s Eats, as adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Comme ca via, published in the New York Times

Homemade Soft Pretzel Sticks and Pretzel Rolls

13 Sep

Homemade Soft Pretzels have been on my list to make for a long time, and I finally had a legitimate reason to make them; meaning, a reason to make some and get them out of my house so I don’t eat them all.  While, these were a little time consuming, they were so worth it.  In actuality, I found the whole process to be relatively relaxing.  One thing to remember – time consuming does not always equal hard.  These were not hard to make by any means… Relaxing, remember?!

Of course, in cooking and baking, at the end of the day the most important thing is that it tastes good.  These were fantastic.  I can’t wait to make some more again.  I chose not to shape in the more traditional twist shape, choosing to make pretzel sticks instead.  Additionally, I used some of the dough to make pretzel rolls/buns because I LOVE sandwiches on pretzel buns.

Homemade Soft Pretzels and Pretzel Rolls
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablspoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounce AP flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt
Directions:
Combine the water, sugar and Kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.  Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment of your mixer, mix on low speed until well combined.  Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove the dough with the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with the vegetable oil.  Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degree F.  Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil.  Set aside.
Bring the water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-qt. saucepan.  
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope.  Make a U-Shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.  Place onto the parchment-lined sheet pan.  
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds.  Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.  Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt.  Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
ADAPTATION NOTES:
- to make pretzel sticks: divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, and roll out each piece of of dough into a 24-inch rope and then cut in to 3 equal sticks.  Disregarding the shaping part and continue to placing in the boiling water.
- to make pretzel rolls/buns: divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and roll each section in to a ball.  Continue to the boiling process.
Source: Adapted from Alton Brown, via Food Network

Cornbread Muffins

19 Jul



I never knew how many different variations of cornbread were out there, let alone that there are two camps of cornbread fans – Southern and Northern.  That would explain why sometimes when I’ve had cornbread it’s tasted different that what I grew up with.  Growing up I’ve typically been exposed to more of a Northern Style cornbread – more cake-like and a bit sweet.  A Southern-Style cornbread seems to be more dense and definitely not sweet, also typically cooked in a well seasoned cast iron skillet with bacon drippings or other lard.  


Wanting cornbread I decided to go on a massive hunt for a recipe that seemed like the “baby bear” of cornbread recipes.  Not to dry, not to sweet – I wanted something just right!  For some reason I never think to look on the King Arthur Flour website for recipes, but when a link directed me to it’s store I nearly smacked myself in the head saying, “duh, of course they may have a great recipe!”  Well, that they did!  Even in the description it says “this cornbread is a rare compromise between Southern and Northern cornbreads; it’s ‘just right’, as regards the amount of sugar.”  I couldn’t agree more – this recipe was a real winner.  I didn’t make any adjustments to the original recipe, however I do love the idea of a well seasoned cast iron skillet giving my cornbread a crispy edge so maybe next time when I’m cooking for more than two people I’ll increase the recipe and cook in my skillet – for a more authentic feel!


Cornbread Muffins
Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Lightly grease a 9-inch square or round pan or cast iron skillet, or 12 muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl whisk together the milk, melted butter and egg.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring quickly and gently until just combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan, or scoop into the muffin tin.

Bake for 17-25 minutes (depending on pan), until the edges just begin to pull away from the pan and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 5 minutes before cutting; serve warm.





Strawberry Bread

14 Jun
Food has a way of reminding us of certain times and events in our lives.  One food that always reminds me of spring growing up is Strawberry Bread.  My mom would always make this recipe, that was a recipe of one of her aunts who has some amazing dessert recipes that are floating around in the family recipe book that I would love to obtain!
This bread is moist and sweet with hints of spice from the cinnamon. Because it uses frozen strawberries it can be made any time of the year, but the flavors will always remind me of the springtime.  And, I will always eat this bread the same way – sliced with a spread of softened butter.  It is good on its own, and I bet it would be good with a little cream cheese but simple butter will ALWAYS be my favorite way to enjoy this sweet and spicy quick bread.  



Strawberry Bread
Ingredients:
2 (10oz.) frozen containers of sliced strawberries in sugar, thawed (or 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced, stirred with 2 tablespoons sugar and set in fridge for awhile to let the juices start to macerate)
4 eggs
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts of choice (my whole family uses pecans, I prefer almonds)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9×5″ loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, stir strawberries, eggs and oil.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nuts.  Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just blended.

Divide batter in to prepared pans.  Bake for about 1-hour, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool 10 minutes on wire rack.  Turn loaves out and cool completely.

** freezes really well.

Source: old family recipe that’s been adapted over the years

Thin n’ Crispy Pizza Crust

21 Jan

We eat a lot of pizza.  A LOT, a lot!  Lately it’s been frozen because I’ve been lazy, however I’m starting to get back in the swing of things, though I still want pizza.  Again and again (and again…)  I haven’t made my own pizza crust in awhile because we’re big fans on thin crust in this household (St. Louis style pizza to be more specific) and I haven’t found a good recipe for thin crust – until now.  I didn’t think I’d be able to get it as thin as we like but this was pretty darn close (one side of the pizza was perfect, the other side a little thicker because I was rushing).  For being so easy to make the results are fantastic!  This is definitely my new favorite pizza crust recipe, now all I need is a perfect sauce recipe!

Thin n’ Crispy Pizza Crust
Source: Brown Eyed Baker (as adapted from Cooking Light December 2007)

Ingredients:
1 package active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons yellow cornmeal

Directions:
Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Stir 1-1/4 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt into yeast mixture to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with coil, turning dough to coat. Cover; let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll dough into a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a pizza pan or baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Drizzle dough with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place pan on lowest oven rack; bake at 450 for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; top with desired toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes or until crust and cheese is lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving

Pigs in a Pretzel

3 Dec
I’m not a huge pretzel fan, but I do like soft pretzels with cheese when I’m at a sporting event, and pretzel dogs.  My husband LOVES pretzels though, and I’ve had a few soft pretzel recipes saved to try but I’ve never really had an excuse to make soft pretzels, especially considering I don’t really eat pretzels too often.  Ever since we went to a Cardinal’s game mid-Summer and I saw people walking around with their pretzel dogs I’ve been craving them, but there aren’t a lot of places that serve them, at least not a lot of places I frequent.  One of our good friends was having a Halloween party and I wanted to make something to take to help sop up some of the alcohol and initially thought of pretzel dogs (I said I’d been craving them), however not knowing how many people would show up, want one, etc. I had no idea how many to make.
Immediately I went to work trying to find the best recipe to use to make mini-pretzel dogs, or Pigs in a Pretzel as I’ve coined them.  This recipe tasted delicious, however next time I’ll make them when I’m not so rushed.  Superbowl time maybe?!
Pigs in a Preztel

Adapted from Vanilla Icing and Pillsbury
Printer Friendly Recipe

PRETZEL DOGS
11 ounces all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (that’s 1 packet)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7-8 ounces of warm water
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoons sugar
8 hot dogs of your choice OR 1lb package of Cocktail Sausages
2 tablespoons melted butter
Pretzel salt, kosher salt or other coarse salt

Directions
- In a bowl, combine flour, yeast, (1 teaspoon) sugar and salt and stir to combine. Beat in the water slowly until it forms a rough ball. You’ll want to go slow because you’ll find in the winter you’ll probably need the greater amount of water, in the summer the lesser, etc.

- Knead for about 5 minutes by hand or mixer until it’s a soft ball. If you are mixing by hand, do NOT add additional flour. Spray your counter top lightly with spray oil if you find the dough sticking. Otherwise, simply knead with sure quick movements. When properly kneaded it shouldn’t be sticky to the touch but instead will be quite smooth and relaxed. It should pass the windowpane test*.

- Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turn once to coat and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

For Full Hot Dogs: preheat the oven to 500. Make a slit lengthwise down each hot dog allowing the knife to slice about a third of the way through.

For Cocktail Sausages: preheat the oven to 375. Make a small slit lengthwise down each sausage.

- On a lightly greased surface, turn out the dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes, uncovered. Then, roll out each piece into a long rope about 25 inches or so and wrap around a hot dog. The dough will cover the dog from end to end. Quickly dip the entire thing in the 1/2 cup water mixed with sugar, place the dog on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Be sure your ends of dough are tucked under the dog. Repeat for remaining 7 dogs. Let all the dogs rest for 10 minutes.

- Bake the dogs for about 8-10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Brush the dogs with the butter. It will seem like a lot of butter but really it’s not a lot at all and it IS all needed to keep your pretzel delicious and soft. Serve immediately.

* Once the dough is springy and lively, it’s time for what bakers call “the windowpane test”. Start by pulling off a piece of dough about the size of a walnut. Roll it between your hands for a few seconds to smooth the damage done when you pulled the dough away from the larger chunk of dough. Now, using both hands, pull the dough between your hands. The idea is to tease the dough into a sheet or film. From time to time, rotate the dough 90 degrees so you will be pulling on different sides. As you pull on the dough, it should form a sheet, or film, that is thin enough that light can pass through it. No, you won’t be able to see things through it, like you could with a real window. The dough shouldn’t tear when you do this.


If you can form a windowpane, the dough is fully developed. If you can’t, then knead another 5 minutes or so.

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