Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Brownie Cups

That seems like a long name...well THIS is what I made: 

Yeah so that is a pumpkin swirl brownie made in mini-muffin pans. These are of course for the Halloween party I am headed to tonight, I am so excited and hope everyone remembers them before drinking too much "punch"!

I have been seeing pumpkin recipes all over the place and the ones that stuck in my mind mixed fall's favorite flavor with chocolate. I really wanted to make cheesecake pumpkin bites, but the hubbie talked me out of it since they will be staying out all night, but send me your recipes if you have a great recipe so I can try later! Hope everyone isn't pumpkin'd our yet cause these are too cute to pass up. They are not too sweet but have a nice pumpkin and chocolate taste.

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Brownie Cups

1/2 cup butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 and 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
chocolate candy coating
sprinkles or candy corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 mini-muffin pans or use mini-baking cups and set aside. Combine chocolate and butter in a double broiler or in a bowl over simmering water. Stir until smooth and melted, set aside and let cool. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, whisk to mix and set aside. Combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat until well combined and slightly fluffy ~3 minutes. Slowly add in flour mixture, just until combined. Divide batter into two bowls (about 2 cups each). Add chocolate mix to one bowl and stir till combined. Add pumpkin puree, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the other bowl and stir to combine. 

Fill prepared pans half way with chocolate brownie mixture. Top with pumpkin brownie mixture until completely filled. Bake mini-brownies for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick entered in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let sit in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on cooling rack. Using chocolate bark/candy coating dip brownie tops into melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles or candy corn pieces. 

The recipe was adapted from If you want to make them into actual brownies, just bake in a 9x9 pan for 40-45 minutes. If you don't have mini-muffin pans, buy some or put them on your Christmas list, because they are just so darn cute!

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Hubbie's Texas Chili

Since fall has officially arrived here in Texas, which means I'm not melting in jeans and a t-shirt, it is time for those warm, fill you belly kind of meals. AKA man food.

The hubbie seems to lose his chili recipe all the time, mostly because my recipe book is so overstuffed everything falls out of it. Although, it is not my fault he scribbles it on the back of the grocery list and I accidentally throw it away. We don't even know if that is really what happened! Now we will have the recipe forever on the blog and we get a chance to share the recipe with all of you!

The Hubbie's Texas Chili

2 (15 ounce) cans Organic Tri-blend beans, rinsed and drained
2 (8 ounce) cans of tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
2 tbsp fresh parsley, diced
1/2 tsp oregano
1 and 1/2  tsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 cup water

In a large skillet brown the ground pork and beef over medium heat. Drain and set aside. In a large soup pot, combine the olive oil, onion, garlic, and corn over medium-high heat. Saute until onions are translucent. Add in cooked meat, tomatoes, water, and spices (everything except for beans). Heat to boiling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally. Add in beans and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and cook on low, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring as needed. Chili will thicken the longer it is simmered. Serve warm with sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, fritos, cheese bread....whatever floats your boat!

If you can't find the tri-blend beans, it is a combination of red kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans, so just pick your favorites. If you have time, just let the chili simmer for 2-3 hours (adding water as needed) and the flavors will really come out, in fact it is usually better the second day. Also note, this recipe makes A LOT of chili, enough for lunch all week, so I hope you like it!

Happy Baking!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Royal Icing Halloween Sugar Cookies




and Ghosts


This is my second time trying royal icing if y'all remember my first trial. I think I have improved a little, which is always promising! Definitely not perfect, but I thought the cookies and icing were super cute this time. This was all thanks to Bridget at Bake at 350 and her whole crew over at University of Cookie. Their tips are right on and really helped with everything from recipe suggestions to how to draw a straight line with royal icing!

Vanilla Sugar Cookies with Butter Royal Icing

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Royal Icing:
4 tbsp meringue powder
scant 1/2 cup water
1 lb (3 and 3/4 cup) confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp clear butter flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar till creamy. Add in egg and vanilla until combined. Slowly add in flour mixture and beat until combined scraping bottom and sides of bowl as needed. Roll dough out using a floured surface or between two pieces of parchment paper (see below). Place cut cookies on baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned. Let sit on sheet for two minutes then set on cooling rack.

For icing, combine meringue powder and water with your paddle attachment until foamy. Sift powdered sugar into bowl and beat on low until combined. Add in corn syrup and butter flavoring and increase speed to high. Beat for 4-5 minutes checking icing just until stiff peaks have formed (icing on tip of paddle does not fold over). Divide as needed and add gel coloring. Fill pastry bags with icing and use immediately, otherwise place in bowl covered in plastic wrap and a lid. To prepare flood icing, slowly add water till a smooth syrup is formed. Fill pastry bags or squeeze bottles and have fun decorating!

For the cookies, instead of using a floured surface I laid a quarter of the dough in between two sheets of parchment paper and rolled till ~1/4 inch thick. I stuck the rolled out sheet in the fridge for 30 minutes, then cut out my shapes, and put them straight in the oven. I found that the longer I left the dough in the fridge the less "puffy" the cookies were. This is a great idea not only to keep your kitchen clean, but also so your cookies don't lose their shape or round up making it difficult to ice. Check out a weblog about it at University of Cookie.

For my icing I went with a clear butter flavoring, but you could skip that or add in any clear flavor like vanilla or almond extract. If you aren't sure what a scant 1/2 cup is, it is measured as slightly less than 1/2 cup.  If I haven't talked enough about how important it is to sift your confectioners sugar, don't be fooled, this is the most important step here. So SIFT or else! I let my icing whip for 4 minutes and almost thought I had let it go too long. So monitor your icing until stiff peaks are formed and no more. Over-beating the icing can cause it to be brittle and crack.

For the icing colors I used Americolor Super Black and Wilton Orange. For the outlining I used Wilton tip #3 and for details I used tip #2. For flooding I took Bridget's advice and bought some craft squeeze bottles. Just pour the flood icing in the bottle, cap it, and let it sit for 5 minutes letting the bubbles rise to the top. I promise, if you are frustrated with royal icing to try this tip. It made it so easy to just grab the bottle and squeeze, while not worrying about it drying out!

I did have one issue, my black flooded icing is taking forever to dry. That's right, it is still not dry an entire day after making them! It is slightly tacky to the touch whereas all the other colors are hardened with a nice shine. Could I have used too much coloring?

Hope you enjoy and if you have further tips or questions feel free to comment away!

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

You'll want to know this...

These cookies are Low-Carb friendly!

Something else you should know...

You can't tell!

OK maybe if your used to the best
peanut butter and chocolate cookies you could tell. But if I were a kid coming home from school ready for a snack, I wouldn't know the difference! So go ahead and make them for "the kids", but don't feel guilty eating them all yourself. Besides being healthy these cookies take about 30 minutes to make, that includes mixing, baking, and taste testing!

These are actually a South Beach Diet recipe that you can find online. Before my wedding last October I went on the South Beach Diet and it was the most amazing and difficult thing all in one. I loved the way I felt and looked, but no bread, pasta, cookies, ICE CREAM was really difficult. So this recipe was my savior back then, I never felt guilty eating them.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

3/4 cup granulated sugar substitute (I use Splenda)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar-free jelly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl combine sugar, egg, and vanilla, beat on low for 3 minutes scraping sides and bottom as needed. Add in peanut butter and baking soda, mix on medium until dough pulls away from sides forming a ball. Form into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet. Make an indentation with your thumb or a melon baller. Fill each indentation with 1/4-1/2 tsp of jelly. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until slightly browned. Immediately transfer to a cooling rack. Serve with milk!

I used grape jelly because it is my favorite, therefore the only one in the house. Also used low-sugar peanut butter and these cookies were still plenty sweet. If you don't like sugar substitute, you can definitely use plain granulated sugar, it just won't be low carb anymore.

I made these cookies for someone special in my life who is going through a hard time right now. I think she'll love them and I know she will love receiving them in the mail. You know who you are, so get ready!

PS Anyone who uses blogger having spacing issues? My last few posts have been horribly spaced, I am a little OCD about single vs. double spacing. I can't seem to get a single spacing between paragraphs, its either double or nothing. Help!?

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Favorite Egg Bread

This was the first bread I made on my own and it is still my favorite.

I love the taste of freshly made bread right out of the oven, but the best part of this recipe, it is so easy you can make it during the week. I promise. I just made it last night!

Baking to me is like therapy. I can have a horrible day at work and feel like I just can't manage anything going on in my life, but the second I get in the kitchen and start baking it's already a better day. I am sure you know what I am talking about. Yesterday I was a little nervous since I haven't had bread luck lately, so I went back to basics. This bread is the basics.

My Favorite Egg Bread

3 to 3 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
1 packet of quick active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 tsp)
1 cup very warm water (120-130 degrees)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large egg

Using small amount of shortening, grease all sides of a large bowl and a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan, set aside.  Sift together 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast. Add in warm water and oil and beat on low speed for one minute, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Beat on medium speed for an additional minute, scraping sides as needed. Add in egg and beat till blended and smooth. Add in an additional cup of sifted flour and blend till dough begins to pull away from sides. 

To knead with stand mixer: Mix in an additional 1/2 cup flour, then replace paddle with dough hook and set on low-medium speed for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Be sure to scrape down dough as it climbs the hook.

To knead by hand (my preferred method): Place dough on lightly floured surface and have 1/2 cup flour on standby to use as needed. Knead dough for 10 minutes or until smooth and springy. 

Place dough in the greased bowl and turn until all sides of dough are greased. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled ~1 to 1 and 1/2 hours. When dough is ready push fist into center to deflate (that is my favorite part). Place dough on smooth surface and roll out to a 9 x 18 inch rectangle. Beginning at one 9 inch side roll dough tightly and pinch the edge to seal. Using your hands press each side of dough roll to seal. Place the folded ends under the loaf (seams side down) in the greased pan. Loosely place greased plastic wrap over pan and let rise in warm place until double ~1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and move oven rack to low position so top of loaf is equal with center of oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until bread is golden brown. Remove from pan immediately and coat with melted butter, let cool. 

My Tip and Tricks:
-to knead dough: On a floured surface and with floured hands, fold ball in half towards you, then with your palms push the dough away from you, finally make a quarter turn and repeat 
-when you have kneaded dough enough: dough should be smooth and springy to the touch
-when dough has risen enough: it should have doubled in size and if you push two fingers into the dough and the indentations stick, it is ready
-when dough has baked long enough: if the top of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped
-instead of melting butter in advance: grab a tbsp of butter and rub it all over the top and sides of the bread right after it comes out of the oven and let it melt itself

These are just my tricks, I am no professional so if you've got other advice let me know!

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Think banana nut bread meets chocolate chip cookie.

I don't know about you, but I have a problem with buying bananas. I always buy them at the store, eat a few and then the rest end up getting thrown away. I am the only one to eat them in my house, so the pressure is on and I just never end up eating them. This time I was ready, I found this recipe in my Mrs. Fields Cookie Book, edited it just a bit and used up those ripened bananas.

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup ripe banana, mashed
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt, whisk to combine ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl combine sugars and mix till blended. Add in butter and beat till a grainy paste. Add in egg, vanilla, and mashed bananas, mix till blended, scraping sides as needed. Slowly add in flour mixture and beat till well blended.  Add in one cup only of chocolate chips and chopped macadamia nuts just until combined. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Repeat with remaining dough and chocolate chips. Bake for 24-28 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Remove cookies from pan and let cool completely on cooling rack. Makes 4-5 dozen.

I found these cookies to serve best straight from the fridge. Weird I know, just try it, I promise. The banana is such a refreshing surprise, its almost like those frozen chocolate dipped bananas you get at the theme parks!

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake and Cupcakes

Yesterday the hubbie and I celebrated our first anniversary! I can't believe it has been a year, so much has changed, including me starting this blog. 

I believe the tradition is to eat your top layer of your wedding cake on your first anniversary, but we did that a long time ago...maybe a month after the wedding. Don't judge! I knew it wouldn't taste as good and I didn't get to try any at the wedding!

Let's all thank the hubbie for the beautiful bouquet of flowers that served as a great background for my photos!

What we did get to have yesterday was some of our wedding beer. Yep, we had our own beer made just for our wedding. My dad is a home-brewer extraordinaire and decided a year before the wedding to make a brew that was specifically made for our likes. In addition to having a few cases at the wedding, my dad is storing one beer for us to have at each of our 'big' anniversaries to see how the flavor changes over time.  Look at that label, isn't it the cutest with our own south park characters!

OK, so back to cake, since we didn't have our top layer and the bakery is back in St. Louis, I decided to make a cake inspired by our honeymoon. With the majority of the honeymoon in Italy we ate Gelato just about everyday we could, sometimes twice! We would always get some combination of nocciola (hazelnut) and cioccolata (chocolate). Hence the cake idea was born...

Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake and Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 and 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup dutch process unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 and 1/4 cup water
2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 tsp Frangelico (hazelnut liquor)
2 eggs
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

10 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2/3 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp Nutella
2 tbsp Frangelico
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms of 3 8-inch pans, then place piece of parchment paper on bottom and grease sides and bottom again. Alternatively if you want to make cupcakes, place baking cups in cupcake pans and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add in oil and sour cream and mix till blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add in water until completely incorporated.  Scrape bottom and sides of bowl, then add in vinegar and Frangelico and mix. Add in eggs one at a time, scrape bottom and sides of bowl again to ensure mixture is completely blended. Mix in chopped hazelnuts and pour batter into prepared pans. Bake cake for 30-35 minutes or cupcakes for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick entered in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 20 minutes, then let cool completely on cooling rack. If you are in a hurry, go ahead and chill them for 30 minutes to firm them up.

To make the frosting, in a large bowl beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Gradually sift in confectioners sugar one cup at a time, scraping sides and bottom of bowl after each addition. Once all sugar is added beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add in Nutella and beat until incorporated, scraping sides as needed.

To make ganache, combine chocolate, Nutella, and Frangelico in a double broiler or in a bowl over boiling water. Whisk mixture until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in heavy cream until completely incorporated with melted chocolate.

To make cake, place one cake on prepared cake board and top with 2/3 cup of frosting. Repeat with remaining cake layers, then use remaining frosting on sides of cake. Using an offset spatula is key to getting those sides and top smooth. While ganache is still warm, pour over cake letting it drip down sides (or in my case having to smooth it out with an offset spatula because I let the ganache cool too much). To make cupcakes, insert ganache in center of cupcake and top with frosting, just like I did here or here. Top cake and cupcakes with toasted hazelnuts.

I will tell you now to cut your cake into very thin pieces as it is extremely rich and the cupcakes are pretty heavy when loaded with ganache filling, so have some milk on standby!

This cake was adapted from the Peanut Butter Cupcakes.

Happy Baking!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Perfect Pizza Sauce

I won't lie, we eat pizza for dinner quite often. It is our go-to food when coming home from the airport late at night knowing we have nothing in the pantry to eat, which lately has been quite often. I do love pizza, I could eat like a college student all week long, so finding the perfect homemade pizza is kind of important. 

I have made homemade pizza dough and a butternut squash flatbread before, but this time I decided to step it up one more level and make my own pizza sauce. I can't believe I haven't made my own sauce before because this recipe was unbelievably easy and tasted amazing. 

I also made a different dough this time, which I was pretty nervous as my recent success with dough has been anything but a success. Thanks to Annie's tips and tricks this dough was easy and doubled in the right amount of time, thank goodness! Oh and the baking stone ab-so-lutely makes pizza crust better, so get one! This is definitely a weeknight meal especially because you can make everything ahead of time.

Perfect Pizza Sauce

1/4 cup and 2 tbsp tomato paste
1 and 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp red cooking wine
1/4 cup wine

In a small saucepan, whisk together all ingredients until well combined. Place over low heat and cook until thoroughly heated. Adjust seasonings as needed. 

Thanks to Cooking for Seven for this recipe, which I edited just slightly. I'll tell you that I do like a thick sauce on my pizza, which is exactly what this is so if you tend towards the thinner side of sauce I would add a bit more water or wine. Don't even think about skipping that maple syrup, it gives the slightest sweet taste, evening out all those spices.

For my pizza toppings I did thinly sliced mozzarella, shredded parmesan, gorgonzola, and turkey sausage. First time I had gorgonzola on a pizza was in Croatia on our honeymoon and it was the best pizza I have ever had.

The rest of the honeymoon all I ate was more gorgonzola pizza, well that and warm chocolate melting cake

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Green Chile Beef Enchiladas

I had a photo shoot yesterday. It included me, my camera, and some re-heated enchiladas. I laughed today when I thought about it, but I am really struggling with getting good photos at night when I do my baking and cooking. We are coming up on the winter months where my daylight will nearly diminish and all I will be left with are the yellow lights of my kitchen. What is you best night time photo advice?

Anyways, I thought the enchiladas did great in the shoot and tasted awesome the night before and again for lunch today. I love good leftovers, especially when its super cold in my office!

I have been eying every one's enchilada dishes lately and really been itching to make my own. I knew the hubbie would like this recipe because he is always craving Stokes green chile sauce, which I can't find anywhere in TX, but found a nice alternative.

Green Chile Beef Enchiladas

1 pound lean ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup sour cream
1 4.5 ounce can chopped green chiles
2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese
1 10 ounce can green chile enchilada sauce
6 large flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef and onion till browned. Drain beef and onions, add in taco seasoning and required water per package directions and simmer till water has soaked into beef mixture. Add corn and cook for additional 3 minutes or until corn is thawed. Stir in sour cream, green chiles, and 1 cup of shredded cheese. 
Spray a 13x9 pan with nonstick spray, then spread 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish. Using a flat surface lay out tortilla and spread 2 tbsp of enchilada sauce in the middle, then 2/3 cup of the beef mixture. Roll tortilla up and lay seam side down in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and beef. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over tortillas and top with remaining shredded cheese. Cover with a sheet of nonstick foil and bake for 40-45 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  

Serve with sour cream, salsa, lettuce, yellow rice, beans....the list goes on and on.

I bet you are wondering what that is...he's the pimp cup we bought on our last trip to Hawaii. Gotta love em!

Also, if you haven't been over to FoodBuzz and voted on the 3rd round of challenges for Project Food Blog go check it out. This challenge is the Luxury Dinner Party and everyone has awesome menus prepared and the blogs are filled with tons of advice. Good Luck to everyone!

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Turkey Burgers with Creamy Romaine Slaw

And here are those burgers I know you were eyeing on the Scallion and Gruyere Potato Pancake post. These two dishes went together amazingly, a meal really loaded with flavors! 

I have so many things to say on this recipe, all rave reviews! First off, I was a little worried about having a burger with no cheese, I ALWAYS have cheese on my burgers, but there is so much flavor in the burgers and slaw that I think cheese would actually ruin it! Secondly, I DO NOT like coleslaw. This recipe caught my eye though because I know the hubbie likes coleslaw (which we never have since I don't like it) and this slaw was actually made with romaine lettuce. It is creamy, tangy, and crunchy, which really went great with the juicy burger.
Turkey Burgers with Creamy Potato Slaw

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 scallions, thinly sliced
3/4 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 cups romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
4 hamburger rolls

In a medium bowl combine the ground turkey, mustard, thyme, and scallions. Mix evenly and form into 4 patties 1/4 inch thick. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook patties ~7 minutes each side or until cooked throughout. While cooking patties, whisk together mayonnaise and white wine vinegar and remaining salt and pepper. Toss with sliced lettuce and grated carrot. Serve burgers on buns and top with slaw. 

This recipe came from the October edition of Real Simple magazine. An article in there also talked about the ways to cook your steak with all those juicy flavors and seared edges that you get at a restaurant. Well, I never eat steak, but one thing rang a bell in my head after I made these burgers. It mentioned to only season your meat right before you cook it. If you salt your meat a while before cooking the salt with actually dry out the meat instead of giving it flavor! So now you know, always season your meat directly before you cook it. 

I also made homemade buns, but I think they failed. They served their purpose in providing a means of getting the burger and slaw in a neat little handheld package, but the taste was just bland. I feel like I have been having a problem with my bread rising lately and these buns were no different, I followed the recipe and let them rise till doubled, but the buns weren't smooth and round when baked and tasted very dense. Is it too much to just want a fluffy, buttery hamburger bun?!

I have made plain egg bread many times before with no problem, but lately I have been experimenting with croissants and these buns and neither of which I have had any luck! Any one have some advice on breads? 

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and happy baking!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Scallion and Gruyere Potato Pancakes

Wow, it has been a while, I miss this! I feel like this week has blown by and I am so excited for the weekend to come already!

Unlike most people who travel in the summer, my husband and I tend to travel in the fall so it is always super busy! This weekend we are headed up to my sister's in Fort Worth, I can't wait to see her!

Since I knew this week was going to go quick, I picked out a few comfort dishes that I know my husband or I can make like that (snapping fingers), you know something you have made over and over again because it is so good. So today I bring you my favorite potato pancake...but first a little background.

I was first introduced to potato pancakes after the hubbie told me he was polish and his grandma used to make them every Christmas eve, what an awesome tradition! So while living in New York I ate my first polish meal at Little Poland in the East Village. I was hooked! After that it kind of went downhill when trying the boxed versions of potato pancakes, that was until 3 years ago the hubbie got the Dave Lieberman cookbook "Young and Hungry". In this cookbook is the best potato pancake recipe...

Crispy Scallion and Gruyere Potato Pancakes

2 medium russet potatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup gruyere, finely grated

Peel the potatoes and coarsely grate into a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper and toss well. Transfer potatoes to a strainer and let stand for 10 minutes or until extra water has drained out. Transfer potatoes back to bowl and add in cheese and scallions just until evenly mixed. Heat oil in a large skillet and grab 1/4 cup of the potato mixture. Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as you can and place it in the pan. Using a spatula, flatten the potato mixture to form a thin circle. Cook for ~7 minutes or until bottom of pancake is browned and crisp, then flip and cook second side. Once pancakes are crisp on both sides remove and place on plate lined with paper towels to help remove the extra oil. Repeat with remaining potato mixture and serve with sour cream or applesauce.

I believe it is the cheese in the recipe that makes these pancakes so crispy and delicious, so feel free to be a little generous. If you don't want to use gruyere, I would suggest trying a swiss. If you are really looking to alter the recipe instead of apples, go ahead and use those apples that are so good this time of year!

I know you guys see that burger in the pictures, we'll get to that, I promise! 

Happy Baking!
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