Picture
Picture
My friend Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls is coming to town this weekend. So in her honor a new recipe for some delightful rolls. (Psst....actually, this is just the dough from the flatbread recipe made into rolls. But don't tell her that I recycled a recipe into something new for her. It will be our little secret.)

Ingredients
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp quick yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 T lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T olive oil
  • spray oil

Preparation
  1. Mix the dry ingredients with a whisk or fork in a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and olive oil and mix until incorporated. It should be lumpy and wet, but not glossy. Adjust water as needed.
  3. Spray oil the top of the dough and bowl sides, flip the dough and then spray again.
  4. Cover dough with plastic wrap and towel. 
  5. Place in warm area to rise about 5-6 hours. I put on my stove top and turn the oven on to 150 degress F and the vent keeps the top warm. It needs to be about 70-74 degrees F.
  6. Pour dough out onto greased counter top and fold over twice. Cover with wrap and let rise another hour.
  7. Uncover and divide dough evenly into six to twelve pieces. (Depends on size of rolls you want.)
  8. On a floured counter top, shape the dough pieces into quick balls. Set aside and rest for a few minutes.
  9. Heat a Dutch oven or other large covered heavy pan with a cover in a 450 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes depending on size of rolls.
  10. Cook uncovered 5-8 minutes depending on size of rolls until golden.
  11. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Tips
Dough can be refrigerated for up to a week. Just remove from refrigerator and place on an oiled counter covered until room temperature - about an hour. Then bake as usual.

Add your favorite Italian herbs into this dough for a wonderful herbed bread.

For small rolls, you could cook them in a roasting pan with a lid or heavy cookie sheeet on top.
 
 
Picture
I find it quite amusing when a company titles their product: Epicurean. I think few of them really know what it means. The free online dictionary defines it as: Devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort.

Yet, Epicurus was more complicated and interesting than that. He shunned superstition and divine intervention for a philosophy that claimed pleasure was the only good. Some mistake his philosophy to be about Hedonism. But really he was about simple pleasure through modest living and knowledge. Pleasure was the good, knowledge was the key.

I think this is the perfect recipe to represent an Epicurean lifestyle. A simple recipe that tastes good with a little knowledge of what and how ingredients go together.  Nothing divine here.
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 to 3 jalapeno(s) finely diced (depending on desired heat)
  • 4 cups cooked assorted beans (Epicurean mix from Costco)
  • 3 medium potatoes diced 
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian recipe)
  • small container of salsa
  • 1/2 cup chicken gravy or 1/4 cup cream (substitute soy based dairy product, a little cornstarch in water, or vegetable gravy for vegetarian recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small bag frozen corn
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt if needed

Preparation
  1. Cook the jalapeno(s) and onion in the olive oil for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat in Dutch oven or heavy pot to release the flavors.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 2-3 hours covered.
  4. You could substitute taco seasoning for the spice mix indicated herein.
  5. Top with a bit of finely shredded English cheddar cheese and some sour cream.


Picture
Picture
Nutrition
About 290 calories per serving.

Tips
  • This recipe can also be prepared in a crock pot.
  • This makes a large pot and extra can be frozen for up to 3 months.
 
 
Many flat breads don't have yeast, but I like this one because of the wonderful flavor. It is easy to whip together in the morning and ready to bake that evening. Also, you can refrigerate the dough for a week and have flatbreads whenever you like. 

The added bonus is that this dough makes great rolls too! So if you get tired of flatbread, just make a roll or two for your favorite sandwich or eat warm with butter. Yum!

Ingredients
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp quick yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 T lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T olive oil
  • spray oil
Picture
Preparation
  1. Mix the dry ingredients with a whisk or fork in a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and olive oil and mix until incorporated. It should be lumpy and wet, but not glossy. Adjust water as needed.
  3. Spray oil the top of the dough and bowl sides, flip the dough and then spray again.
  4. Cover dough with plastic wrap and towel. 
  5. Place in warm area to rise about 5-6 hours. I put on my stove top and turn the oven on to 150 degress F and the vent keeps the top warm. It needs to be about 70-74 degrees F.
  6. Pour dough out onto greased counter top and fold over twice. Cover with wrap and let rise another hour.
  7. Uncover and divide dough evenly into six pieces.
  8. On a floured counter top, shape the dough pieces into quick balls. Set aside and rest for a few minutes.
  9. You can roll out the dough very thin after about 10 minutes or you can refrigerate the extra balls wrapped in plastic for about a week.
  10. Brush top of dough with a little olive oil and salt and bake at 450 degrees F on a preheated pizza stone or heavy cookie sheet for 3 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven, top with toppings, and return to bake for an additional 15 minutes or so depending on wetness of toppings.

Topping Ideas
  • Mozzarella, caramelized onions, and pancetta.
  • Tomato sauce, Mozzarella, pepperoni and green pepper.
  • Mozzarella, tomato sauce, pineapple and green pepper.
  • Mozzarella, blue cheese, and pancetta.
  • Ground beef, tomato sauce, and cheddar cheese.
  • Mozzarella, nicoise olives, castelvetrano olives, and red onion.
  • Mozzarella, bacon, parmesan, and tomato.
  • Tomato, mozzarella, and basil.

Rolls
You can cook the six pieces individually or together as large or small rolls as well.
  1. Bring the dough to room temperature and let proof a little on an oiled counter under plastic wrap for about an hour.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven or other large covered heavy pan with a cover in a 450 degree F oven for at least a half an hour.
  3. Shape dough quickly into rounds and placed into Dutch oven. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes depending on size of your rolls.
  4. Cook uncovered 5-8 minutes depending on size of rolls until golden.
  5. Remove to wire rack to cool.


Nutrition
Depends on toppings and portion size.

Tips
I usually cook 1-3 of the flatbreads and then store the rest wrapped in plastic wrap in a recloseable plastic bag. Bring dough back up to nearly room temperature before cooking.
 
 
Picture
Sochi! Olympics! Putin shirtless! O.k., well at least two out of three ain't bad. I cringe after every skater as NBC pans to a stoic Putin in the crowd. Honestly, NBC should just rename themselves the Putin Television Network. There has to be more about Russian than just Putin sitting in a crowd or hanging half naked in a hotel room - his portrait, I mean. That and the stories of uniquely unfinished hotel rooms and bathrooms drove me to think about how I could share more about the culture of Russian to my family instead of the mismanaged hype. 

The Russian people are known for many great things including unique food due in part to their climates and topography. In particular, they are known for pickling certain foods including cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage. Their pickling brine is almost as holy as soy sauce to some Asian cultures. Almost as holy as vodka! So, I decided we'd celebrate a bit of the culture of Russian outside of the NBC/PTN mockumentary experience by having a bit of pickled foods and a few shots of vodka for the adults with a proper Russian toast of course.

Here are two great quick pickle recipes I developed for the occasion. One recipe is for tomatoes with pepperoncini and the other is for cooked Brussels sprouts. Vashe zrodovye! - To your health! Half naked or not.

Ingredients
TOMATOES
  • 10 medium small vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 6 small jarred pepperoncini
  • 1 clove garlic sliced thin
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

BRUSSELS SPROUTS
  • 18-20 Brussels sprouts halved
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 cloves garlic sliced thin

BRINE
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (you could use red wine vinegar for a different flavor)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Preparation
  1. Bring the brine ingredients of water, vinegar, salt and sugar to boil until dissolved.
  2. Steam the halved Brussels sprouts in a bit of water in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Fill a quart jar with the tomato ingredients.
  4. Fill a pint jar with the Brussels sprouts ingredients.
  5. Pour the brine into each jar. You will probably have a tiny bit of brine left.
  6. Seal jars, cool, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition
Calories are pretty small, probably about 10 or so for each tomato and 10 for about a quarter of the Brussels sprouts.

Picture
Picture
Tips
You can serve the Brussels Sprouts within an hour or so, but I'd wait a day at least for the tomatoes.

This is a refrigerator recipe. Please do not use for long term storage canning.
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup plus 1/2 stick butter (2 1/2 sticks total)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 4 tablespoons half and half

Preparation
  1. Cream the butter in your mixer on medium for 2 minutes. 
  2. While the butter is creaming, sift the dry ingredients onto parchment paper or into a bowl with a spout.
  3. With the mixer on the lowest speed add the sifted ingredients until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the vanilla and half and half. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
  5. Adjust consistency by adding either a bit more sugar for stiffness or half and half for dilution.

Nutrition
It's frosting! lol


Tips
You should have a bit of frosting left over. 

This frosting can also can be used for cookies.
Picture
Picture
Picture
Monogram Gifts & More
 
 
Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines? This is the dilemma I faced standing in the baking aisle at the grocery store. My mom made store box cakes all the time. They are pretty much full proof for the novice cook. I've baked both. Neither is particularly spectacular, but there is an advantage to having a quick box cake handy in the cupboard. Although, honestly they taste sugary, a little airy, and a bit chemically. Also, the texture is so light it almost seems like there is nothing there.

I really want a rich cake with some substance to it. So after a few trial and errors I've come up with this recipe that seems to be pretty full proof and consistent. I hope you enjoy. (If you are looking for a comparison of store bought versus home made there is a good summary at the Ktchn called: Make Or Bake? Cake Mixes vs. Homemade.)

Pre Preparation
350 Degrees F
Butter and flour two 8 inch round baking pans.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups and 1 tablepoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (I prefer dark.)
  • 1 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • butter to grease pans
  • flour to dust pans

Preparation
  1. Sift first 5 ingredients onto a piece of parchment paper or a large bowel with a pouring lip. 
  2. Cream the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. With the beaters on low add the sifted ingredients to the wet mixture that has been creamed. Incorporate fully.
  4. Turn the beaters onto medium and beat for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour and divide the batter equally into the two round pans.
  6. Bake at 350 degress F on middle rack for about 30-37 minutes. The middle of the cake should spring back when touched and a toothpick test should be clean.
  7. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes on wire rack.
  8. Loosen the cake from around the edge of the pans. I use a small plastic spatula that I got with my small food processor.
  9. Invert each cake onto a plate and then revert onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
  10. Cool fully before layering and frosting. Shave off the tops with a fine serrated knife if necessary
  11. I like to use my chocolate butter cream frosting for this cake, but I'm sure other frosting would work just as well.

Nutrition
It's cake. Really, you have to ask? Well, o.k. Typically chocolate cake is about 150 calories per ounce of serving which includes the frosting. A slice could easily be 500-600 calories. So watch it!

Tips
Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting Recipe Link.

I prefer to use my stand mixer for this recipe, but you can use a hand mixer just as easily.

One nice thing about this cake is that the top doesn't rise too rounded, so that if you layer it you rarely have to cut off any of the top of the cake.

There are a couple of tricks to frosting a layered cake. First, put a bit of frosting down on your plate to help stabilize the first layer of cake. Secondly, you should do a light round of frosting around the cake first. This is usually called the crumb frosting. Then do the next layer of frosting after it has set up a bit.

If you are in a hurry, you can just dump all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix for 3 minutes.
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1 cup plus 1/2 stick butter (2 1/2 sticks total)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 4 tablespoons half and half

Preparation
  1. Cream the butter in your mixer on medium for 2 minutes. 
  2. While the butter is creaming, sift the dry ingredients onto parchment paper or into a bowl with a spout.
  3. With the mixer on the lowest speed add the sifted ingredients until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the vanilla and half and half. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
  5. Adjust consistency by adding either a bit more sugar for stiffness or half and half for dilution.

Tips
You should have a bit of frosting left over.
Save the Date
 
 
I hate fruit roll ups. There I've said it. I prefer my fruit to at least somewhat resemble it's origins. These are so easy to make and they keep well refrigerated. They are great cold or hot. Just make a bunch and see how long they last.

Oven
375 degrees F

Ingredients
  • 1 point blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • a little salt shake
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter
  • a couple of salt shakes
  • spray oil

Preparation
  1. Spray four oven safe ramekins with oil.
  2. Mix first four ingredients in a bowl and then evenly divide into ramekins.
  3. Mix next five ingredients with a fork until crumbly.
  4. Top the blueberry mixture with the crumble and bake for 20 minutes.

Nutrition
4 servings
340 calories per serving

Tips
  • Recipe can be easily doubled.
  • You could eliminate the sugar and flour in the blueberries for step 2 and just rely on the topping sweetness for a lower calorie crumble.
 
 
Being from the south (if you can call southern Illinois south), my mother loved southern food. One of her favorites was cornbread. She just followed the instructions on the round cornmeal box and baked it in a cast iron skillet. It was always served hot with butter and honey. Yum! 

I loved the way my mom's cornbread tasted. Since I have very few of her successful recipes, I wanted to pass the cornbread tradition on to my kids. However, when I made it for my young children they complained about the "grainy" texture of that method. (One of the things I've learned as a parent is that texture is nearly everything!) 

So, in order to develop something a bit "smoother" but still full of flavor and taste, I came up with these great corn bread muffins sweetened with a bit of honey. Many people would classify them as northern and not southern because they are sweeter than savory, but I don't care what you call them because they are delicious, easy to make and the kids gobble them up. Just spread on the butter because the honey is already built right in! I think my mother would be proud.
Oven
400 Degress F

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup one percent milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey

Preparation
  1. Stir the dry ingredients together until well mixed.
  2. Whisk wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.  
  3. Combined the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed. 
  4. Spoon batter into 12 papered muffin cups. 
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Nutrition

12 Servings
170 calories per serving
Picture
Picture
Tips
I have successfully reduced salt to about 3/4 tsp. You could try less if you are on a lower salt diet and use unsalted butter as well.

This is a great first recipe for kids to try. It easy to mix together and relatively fast to prepare and cook.