Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sour Dough Bread

I'm starting to get more comfortable in my bread making abilities so I decided to try making bread that didn't involve my bread machine.  Sour dough is probably my favorite kind of bread so I knew that I had to make it.  I had no idea how much effort goes into making sour dough.  If you plan on making this, you'll have to give yourself about a week to prep before the dough actually goes in the oven.  It takes a little effort to make and maintain the sourdough starter, but once you finish the bread, the end result is wonderful.  You'll end up making several loafs at a time because this bread will disappear quickly in your household!

Source:  Annie's Eats, starter and sourdough basics from King Arthur Flour, bread from Williams Sonoma

Sour Dough Starter

2 cups warm water
1 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


Pour the water into a 2-quart glass or ceramic jar or bowl. Stir in the sugar or honey to dissolve. Stir in the yeast. Gradually whisk in the flour. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel or dishcloth (not plastic wrap) and place it in a warm area. Let it develop 2-5 days, stirring once a day due to the separation that will occur. When bubbling has subsided and a sour aroma has developed, stir once more and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sour Dough Bread

1½ cups lukewarm water (100˚ F)
4 tsp. active dry or instant yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1 cup sourdough starter
5½-6 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. bread flour mixed with 1 tbsp. yellow cornmeal


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted, whisk together the water, yeast, honey, and sourdough starter just until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until slightly increased in bulk and bubbly, about 1 hour.

With the flat beater attached to the mixer and the mixer on low speed, mix in 3 cups of the flour, the butter, eggs and salt. Increase the speed to medium-low and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Add in 2 more cups of the flour and beat for 2 minutes.

Switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining flour, ¼ cup at a time, until a very soft dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on low speed, adding a tablespoon of flour if the dough begins to stick, until the dough is smooth and elastic, tacky but not sticky, about 6 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1½-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle generously with the flour-cornmeal mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal portions and form each into a tight, oval loaf. Place the loaves on the prepared baking sheet, several inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with flour and gently rub in. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator, 8-12 hours.

Place a baking stone on the lowest oven rack and preheat the oven to 450˚ F. (If you don't have a baking stone, use an overturned baking sheet.) Using a thin sharp knife, make three slash marks over the top of each loaf. Place the baking sheet on the heated baking stone and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F and continue to bake until the loaves are golden brown, 25-30 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

I don't eat a lot of chocolate, but as soon as I saw this recipe, I knew this would be a great dessert for Valentine's Day. I ended up using Ghiradelli chocolate and turned out to be a great decision.  I'm not sure what was happening with my camera that day, but please take my word for it that this dessert is incredible and needs to be made right away! 

Source:  Confections of a Foodie Bride, adapted from Everyday Food


8 oz semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped
4 Tbsp butter, room temp
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 400. Spray 6 wells (and the surrounding tops) of your muffin tin with baking spray.

Melt the chocolate and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high together for ~3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add 1 egg at a time, waiting until the egg is incorporated fully before adding the next one. Add vanilla. Switch mixer to lowest setting. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix on low until thoroughly combined.

Fill each muffin tin almost to the top (the cakes will rise, but only very slightly; I left less than 1/4 inch space). Bake for ~10 minutes. The cakes will look done on top and will jiggle if you give the pan a light shake. Remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes. Place a plate on top of the muffin tin and invert to remove the cakes. Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream, confectioner’s sugar… or just a fork!

Lobster Tails

Happy Valentine's Day!!  My husband and I actually celebrated the weekend prior by eating lots of delicious food.  These lobster tails were a big part of the wonderful foods we consumed.  I had never cooked with lobster before and I eventually want to cook an entire lobster, so these tails were good practice.  If you do plan to broil them, it's best to not to buy larger tails.  They took much longer to cook than 9 minutes and I was afraid I would overcook them.  Luckily, they turned out well and made for a very tasty meal!

Source:  Annie's Eats


Fresh lobster tails


To prep and cook the lobster, first preheat the broiler.  Place an oven rack at the second highest position

Cover a baking sheet with foil and place the lobster tails on the pan.

Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut a slit up the center of the shell, doing your best to cut the shell and not the meat (it’s not a big deal if you do cut the meat though.)

Carefully open the shells along the midline cut you made, taking care to avoid scratching yourself (the shells can be very sharp!) When the opening is large enough, gently separate the lobster meat from the inside of the shell with your fingers. When the whole segment of meat has been peeled away from the shell, lift it up and out of the opening so that it is sitting on top of the shell. Brush the lobster meat lightly with melted butter. Place under the broiler and cook until the meat is opaque and cooked through, 6-9 minutes (depending on the size of the lobster tail). Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges and drawn butter.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Italian Spiral Meat Loaf

I love my Taste of Home magazine.  There isn't really any recipe in each issue that I would NOT want to try.  I found a recipe for this meatloaf and it turned out really yummy.  I made a little mistake in rolling up the meatloaf because I forgot to seal the ends.  When it was done cooking in the oven, almost all of the mozzarella cheese had melted out of the meatloaf.  Oh well, I'll learn for next time!  There will definitely be a next time because this was delicious!

Source:  Taste of Home, February 2011


2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pizza sauce, divided
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 lbs lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 lb. bulk italian sausage
1/2 lb. sliced deli ham
2 cups shredded part-skin mozzarella cheese, divided
1 jar ( 6 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained


In a large bowl, combine the eggs, 3/4 cup pizza sauce, bread crumbs, onion, green pepper, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.  Crumble beef and sausage over mixture and mix well.

On a piece of parchment paper, pat beef mixture into a 12 in x 10 in rectangle.  Layer the ham, 1 1/2 cups cheese and mushrooms over beef mixture to within 1 in. of edges.  Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side and peeling parchment paper away as you roll.  Seal seam and ends.  Place seam side down in a greased 13 in by 9 in baking dish; brush with remaining pizza sauce.

Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 1 hour.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until no pink remains and a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.  Using two large spatulas, carefully transfer meat loaf to a serving platter.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

I love to try different types of mashed potatoes, although I only make them as a treat because ever since I got off my diet, I try to limit the starches.   But it's a Saturday night dinner so it was a special occasion!  These potatoes were great, but I'm a sucker for anything that has a lot of butter, sour cream, and cream cheese.  If you decide to try this recipe, just a heads up that it serves 10-15 people.  My husband and I are going to be eating mashed potatoes for days!  However, I'm not complaining.

Source:  Taste of Home, February 2011


3 lbs. potatoes (about 9 medium), peeled and cubed
1 pkg, (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 bacon strips, chopped
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped (I omitted)


Place potatoes in a Dutch oven and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender.  Drain; mash potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream, and butter.  Stir in milk and seasonings.

In a small skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels with a slotted spoon; drain.

Transfer potato mixture to a greased 13 x 9 in. baking dish; sprinkle with cheese, onions, and bacon.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until heated through.