Monday, December 29, 2008

Carmelized Onion and Sun Dried Tomato Foccacia Bread

Occasionally my handsome hubby and I find ourselves chilling together, flipping thru channels on the tube and come across shows that we honestly never would have thought that we would watch when we were younger. Documentaries, This Old House, the Antiques roadshow, travel shows etc. Basically the things that are on all day Saturday that your dad would be watching when you wanted to watch cartoons as a kid!!!
Anywho I find myself yelling "stop!" . . . "Go back to that they were cooking something," which just thrills my hubby to death because the cooking shows that I find are the ones that I thought were so boring as a kid but now have me rummaging in my pantry and flouring up my kitchen. Which is how this recipe came about. I saw Foccacia bread being made on TV and came up with my own recipe. I am now HOOKED on Foccacia bread and will make it every chance I get. It is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. I seriously wanted to cry when my husband cut himself a second piece at lunch today! (the ultimate compliment!!!) It was soooo good! I just can't help but toss in sun dried tomatoes and caramelized onions into just about everything! I love them! They certainly kicked Foccacia bread up a huge notch for me! A new fave was made!
Caramelized Onion and Sun dried Tomato Foccacia Bread
Recipe by: Emily

4-4 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Warm Water
1 tsp Dry Yeast
2 tsp Salt
1 cup Warm Water
1 medium Onion, sliced very thin and caramelized
1/4 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, in oil, chopped
1/2 tsp dried Basil
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

1.Mix together 1 tsp yeast, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place over night. (This allows a "sponge" starter to form as a base for the dough.)
2. Slowly add 1 cup of warm water to the "sponge". Then mix in 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of basil, and 4 cups of flour. Add 2/3's of the caramelized onion and 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes to the soft dough and knead on a floured surface adding more flour as needed until a firm dough forms. (Kneading takes about 8-10 minutes)
3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl turning dough over once to cover the entire surface lightly with oil. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about an hour, or until double in size.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured sheet pan or a baking stone and stretch into an 11 or 12 inch circle. Brush the top with olive oil and then sprinkle remaining onions over the top. "Dimple" the dough with your fingers and then sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt over the top.
5. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until browned. Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool. Slice into wedges and enjoy!

To caramelize the onion, I slice it very thin and cook it for about 45 minutes to an hour over medium low heat with a little bit of sugar in a frying pan until very soft and caramelized. You may need to add a little bit of water throughout the cooking process to keep the onions from drying out.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Roll Wreath

Mensch! Another Christmas has come and gone . . . too soon! I was a major slacker about blogging during this month . . . but I did make a ton of goodies and we had some great food . . . which is piling up in my fridge waiting for creative uses!
For breakfast Christmas morning we ate a Christmas wreath! (How festive are we!) I made it the day before actually and just iced it before we tore into it. I filled it with my favorite things in cinnamon rolls . . . chocolate chips, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon! My mom always made cinnamon rolls with chocolate chips and that is just the way I like them! (I am NOT a raisin fan . . .)
It was great to wake up, open presents, eat breakfast, and hit the hay again for a little more snoozing. This Christmas just flew by! Which means school will be starting again in a little over a week! I need a little more breather time I think . . . or at least some serious fun for New Years to prep. for the coming semester! We'll see if I can get anything else whipped up in my kitchen before spring semester begins!

Dough Recipe
Recipe by: Mama P1/2 cup Warm Water
1.5 Tbsp Yeast
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Oil (I like to use butter instead)
2 cups Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp Salt
6-8 cups Flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix milk, sugar and salt in a sauce pan and scald. After the milk mixture is cool add the eggs, oil an d yeast mixture. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Roll out the dough into a rectangle until dough is about 1/3 an inch thick. Spread dough with melted butter, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon, sugar (white or brown), chocolate chips, and pecans. Roll into a log and transfer to a large sheet pan or pizza pan. Shape dough into a circle and crimp connecting ends together. Slice a little more than half way through the dough to form a circle of connected cinnamon rolls that you can fan out and over lap into a wreath shape. Raise until double and then bake in a preheated 375degree oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.

You can use any filling that you want, another filling that I love is raspberry cheesecake!

For the icing I just mixed 1/3 cup softened butter, about 1 1/2 cups powder sugar and a couple of tablespoons of milk until I got the consistency that I desired and drizzled it over the top. You can also add green food coloring if you want to.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

I feel like someone is standing above our town dumping bag after bag of snow over us! Does anyone else feel this way? It wouldn't get on my nerves so much if we could just stay inside and didn't have to venture out into it . . . or if I just went outside to watch it fall rather than donning my boots to dig my car out . . . oh well . . . I knew it was coming I was just hoping that it would stay off of the roads this year!
Dare to dream! In fact my hometown is getting dumped on which is VERY unusual since it is a hoarding place for snowbirds to go and get away from cold weather. But talking to my Mutti revealed that they too have been getting snow . . . and she is thrilled! Of course she was raised in the colder parts of the state . . . whereas I am a light foot in the cold/snow department. When I first started college my little sisters were always so excited when we talked on the phone and they heard that it was snowing . . . of course they have never experienced the joys of traipsing across campus hoping not to fall and and biff it in front of a cute guy or getting to class looking like a wet dog! (You missed out ladies!)
Snow is a good time to do some baking though! I love being all warm inside and turning on some Christmas tunes . . . rocking out to Jingle Bells and enjoying the scents of the season wafting through my house! In fact baking this year has led me to a new love! Biscotti! I have found/seen some great biscotti recipes but when I found this one and saw how easy it was . . . it won over my kitchen! Plus my handsome hubby got in on the game as my chocolate drizzler! These are going to be great to give away this year!

Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Recipe by: Betty Crocker

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts (I used sliced almonds)
1/2 cup cherry-flavored dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, egg, flour, hazelnuts and cranberries until stiff dough forms. Shape half of dough at a time into 8x2 1/2-inch rectangle on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet 15 minutes.
2. Cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, turning once, until crisp. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.
3. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, with 1/4 tsp cooking oil, on High 30 to 60 seconds; stir until smooth. Drizzle chocolate over one side of each biscotti. Let stand until chocolate is set. (The oil helps keep the chocolate from drying out and becoming discolored and white)
Okay after trying these cookies I am major hooked! They are DELICIOUS! They have a great cookie taste/texture left even though they are crispy! They are great!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mom's Famous Fudge

I am sitting here waiting for 5:00 to roll around so that I can e-mail in my second to last final (yep he won't take it before 5:00 . . .) while indulging in yet another piece of fudge! (Hey I have been very stressed!) My mother makes the absolute best fudge that the world has ever seen! Her recipe is a little piece of heaven on earth (one that has paid a visit to my hips this week)! Growing up I always looked forward to my mom making homemade candies and bringing treats around to friends and neighbors! We had one Christmas cassette tape in particular that we played over and over, which I just loved, until someone yelled to turn it off. I would pop it into our big silver stereo (complete with record player and A-track), turn it up and go in the kitchen and help my mom, unless the candy was really hot, then I would lean away from the counter and watch her work . . . stirring quickly, sometimes spilling red food coloring on a good dish cloth, checking the candy thermometer's temperature not wanting to cook anything too long, buttering pans and unrolling wax paper, wondering aloud if she had added vanilla in already, then adding some more . . . it was always entertaining to watch! (Thanks Mutti!)
Their were always so many goodies that we looked forward to and so many recipes from family members and friends to pull out from different cookbooks, or that were written on envelopes from old letters, or on certain recipe cards that we identified by saying "its the one that had something spilled on it remember" or "it was written on the back of a grocery list." (those were treasures . . . we never re-wrote them, because they were better the way that they were!) Oh memories! But of all the goodies that were made I think fudge and toffee were the best! I tried to make toffee the first year that I was married and it just didn't turn out as good as my moms . . . but when I make my mom's fudge it just always is sinfully good! (Which is very dangerous during finals week!) I promise you that this is the best fudge you will ever have! It is SUPER rich and creamy and doesn't have that "cocoa" texture that some fudges do!
Recipe by: Mama P

1 can Evaporated Milk
2 Giant plain Hershey or Symphony Chocolate bars
1/2 cup Butter (use the real deal!)
5 cups Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Miniature marshmallows
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

1. Chop the chocolate bars and set aside along with the 1 cup of marshmallows.
2. Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add sugar and evaporated milk. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes then remove from heat.
3. Add the chopped chocolate, mini marshmallows, and chopped nuts to the milk and sugar mixture. Stir until the choclate and marshmallows are melted. Pour into a 9x13 pan that has been lined with foil and then butter. Refrigerate until firm, cut into squares. Indulge and melt with pleasure!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Asparagus Soup with Garlic Croutons

Today is the day that my handsome husband has spent countless nights dreaming about . . . his last day of college!!! (Well until graduate school . . .) Yes my Toph is graduating with a Bachelors degree in Sociology! Congrats, congrats handsome! He is so excited and I am so very proud of him! To celebrate we went out to eat and then watched the new batman movie (it came out today on DVD . . . um I think I closed my eyes through most of it!)
I decided that I had better post something without chocolate in it to break up my ever increasing baking blogs. (I made fudge yesterday . . . had to be done . . . I don't want everyone thinking that our house is overran with sweets . . . it really is not!) With the snow making its presence known their is absolutely nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of soup to warm you up and make you forget about getting to dig your car out! I personally love asparagus and I especially came to love Spargal (white asparagus) while living in Germany and Austria . . . but I have yet to see it in the US. If you ever see it or get the chance to eat it . . . DO! In Germany they smother it with melted butter and toasted bread crumbs! It is an absolute delight! Love it! Love it! Asparagus soup is a close second though and I love the wonderful taste and texture that roasting them gives them.
Asparagus Soup with Garlic Croutons
Recipe by: Emily

1/2-3/4 lb Asparagus
2 1/2 cups Chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup half and half
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Shallots, minced
2 Tbsp Chives, chopped
1/2 tsp Thyme
1. Place the asparagus on a cookie sheet and coat with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and then lightly salt and pepper them. Roast the asparagus in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. (I like them soft!)
2. Saute the shallots in 1 tsp of olive oil in a large sauce pan until translucent (5-8 minutes). Then add the chicken stock and thyme and bring to a simmer.
3. Coarsely chop the roasted asparagus and add to the chicken stock. With a hand blender puree the stock and asparagus until smooth. Season liberally with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Turn the heat off and add the half & half and chives. Serve with additional roasted asparagus spears and garlic croutons if desired.

Garlic Croutons
4-5 thick slices of regular white, french or Italian bread
3 Tbsp Butter
Garlic Powder
Parsley Flakes

Cube the bread slices and spread out on a cookie sheet. Melt the butter and use a pastry brush to coat the bread cubes on all sides. Sprinkle lightly with garlic powder, tossing to coat well. Sprinkle with parsley flakes, salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 3 minutes, toss croutons again then continue baking until golden brown. Serve on top of soup. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cabbage, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon Gratin

Paula Deen owns the key to part of my husbands heart! He served his mission in the south and ever since has just loved southern cooking. When we had only been married a few weeks he gave me a few cookbooks that I love . . . one of them being from Miss Paula! Her recipes are overall simple to make and are "down home" all the way!
I made this pork loin using Paula's herb crusted pork recipe (which was SOOOO delicious!) and came up with a cabbage gratin to serve with it weeks ago and have been meaning to blog it . . . but it hasn't happened until today! Oh well. This is my little break from writing my Political Geography paper.
I can only take so much world economics in my head at a time! I am writing about Post-Cold War Russia . . . it's very interesting . . . but lets talk cabbage! I love cabbage! It is such a great veggie to add to just about anything (I think!) . . . toss in some bacon, cheese, cream, and caramelized onions and I am set for life! My mom always made amazing stir fry with long strips of cabbage in it and I loved it! Mmmmm!
Cabbage, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon Gratin
Recipe by: Emily

1/2 Cabbage head, shredded
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2
1 1/3 cup shredded cheese, Parmesan or Italian blend
1 large Onion
5-6 Strips Bacon, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

1. Thinly slice the onion and cook it in a frying pan with the one teaspoon of sugar over medium low heat until caramelized. Add the shredded cabbage and cook for a few minutes until the cabbage and onions are mixed and the cabbage begins to soften. Pour cabbage into a casserole dish and spread out.
2. Crisp the bacon in the cabbage frying pan, lower the heat and add the cream, 1 cup shredded cheese, salt and pepper. Once the cheese has melted pour the cream mixture over the cabbage and top with additional cheese if desired. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until the gratin is bubbly and the cabbage is cooked. Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Savory Sundried Tomato and Artichoke Cheesecake

Wowser! Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and from the looks of many blogs it didn't phase anyone! Me . . . I have been battling a nasty sore throat, flu, earaches etc. The past few weeks and have had no gumph to blog! Now with finals hovering over me waiting to pounce on me next week . . . I am ready to take a minute and share one of my new favorite creations! Sun dried Tomato and Artichoke cheesecake. . . Okay it is an appetizer cheesecake . . . meaning it is meant to be enjoyed on crackers or crusty bread! It was one of my contributions for our Thanksgiving feast and was a total delight!
My handsome husband and I also whipped up some pretty mean cream pies including chocolate, praline pecan, and coconut cream. I love pie! My mom always makes so many different kinds and our favorite day after Thanksgiving breakfast is . . . pie! A great breakfast to prepare for a killer day of shopping! Yes the gals in my fam are crazy and we wake up 5 minutes after going to bed to hit the sales! This year wasn't so bad though . . . we avoided the stores that had blood trails leading into them and seemed to be done faster than in years past! Then of course we converged at my Mutti's and made some darling Christmas trees! (We are so crafty!)Savory Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Cheesecake
Recipe by: Emily
3 packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomato's in Oil, chopped
1 medium Onion, sliced thin
1 14 oz Can Artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped, reserve 2 Tablespoons of the liquid
4 oz Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

1. Caramelize the sliced onion with 1 tsp of sugar over medium low heat for about 30 minutes in a pan. Set aside onions.
2.Mix the bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter together and press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
3. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth with a hand mixer. Add the feta cheese and beat until well mixed.
4. Add the eggs, basil, salt, pepper, garlic, and the reserved 2 tablespoons of artichoke liquid and mix until just incorporated.
5. Fold in the sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onion, Parmesan cheese and artichoke hearts. Pour filling into the prepared 9 inch spring form pan and bake in a 325 degree preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow cheesecake to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes on a wire rack and then chill for at least 4 hours before serving. To serve slice cheesecake into wedges and spread on crackers or toasted or crusty bread. Enjoy!