Friday, May 6, 2016

Lemony Shortbread Cookies

Buttery Lemony Shortbread Cookies

Last weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with my parents in California and help them get their house ready to put up for sale. We had a great time going through pictures and STUFF and the memories connected to all of it. There were a lot of laughs and wondering why the heck we held on to so many things. 
I've heard somewhere that it's a good idea to bake cookies before a home showing--you know, to fill the house with yummy, homey smells. So I wanted to leave my parents with some cookie dough in their freezer to bake up as needed for showings. 
Mom and Dad have a great lemon tree in back, so I plucked one big lemon, washed it, zested it, and added the zest to the yummy buttery shortbread cookie recipe I'd found recently. 
When I baked up a sample batch, my parents, aunt and uncle, and myself loved the cookies so much that I had to make my own batch once I got home--and here they are.
I kind of over-baked these ones, but I actually like my shortbread browned all the way through, not just on the edges. These are a rich, buttery cookie, not too sweet, and with just a touch of lemon tang. Mmm. I'm glad that I'm able to freeze the dough so I don't eat too many at one time. 
These are GOOD. I think you need to try them. 
Go.

Lemony Shortbread Cookies
     --adapted from Simple Family Finance

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (from 2 medium lemons)
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks
  • about 1 1/2 tablespoons flour + 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar mixed together for dusting
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl, mix the lemon zest, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the cut up butter and cut it in with a pastry blender (see picture below if you're unfamiliar with pastry blenders). Keep cutting the butter in until the butter and dry ingredients become a dough and the pastry blender seems to be cutting it into slices (see pic below).
  • Dust a clean work surface with half the sugar and flour mixture. Turn dough out onto work surface and flatten roughly into a rectangle shape. Sprinkle with more flour/sugar mixture. Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, trying to maintain a rectangular shape as much as possible. 
  • Cut with a pizza or fluted rotary cutter into about 1 1/2 inch square pieces (or smaller, if you'd like). You'll have scraps left at the end.
  • Place on prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. (*At this point, you can also place unbaked cut dough on a wax paper lined sheet and freeze. Place frozen dough pieces in a zip top freezer bag and store in freezer until ready to bake.)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until browned on the edges.
  • Allow to cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies











I don't like how this dough cracked, but the cookies don't have to be perfect to be delicious.
















   

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tacos al Pastor


Tacos al Pastor
My brother introduced me to tacos al pastor, and to this recipe, last Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if this is a traditional recipe or not--googling "tacos al pastor" got me all different forms of pork. Shredded, cubed, sliced. 
If you've never had them before, just know that tacos al pastor are made from pork marinated in a pineapple juice based marinade. It's almost like a Mexican teriyaki--sweet and salty deliciously tender pork. So good.
One thing I really enjoyed about how my brother prepared these tacos is that he cooked the corn tortillas in a little bit of oil rather than just heating them up. A little fat makes almost everything better, right? The cooking in a little oil makes the tortillas chewy and helps them hold up better to the fillings.
These tacos are not spicy at all, but if spicy is what you're into, I'm sure you could add some minced jalapeƱo to the marinade. 
I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough time for the meat to marinate since I got back from work around 5:15, but a 20-minute soak was plenty, and I had dinner on the table by 6:15, which, if you know me, is pretty good. I'm sure you could prepare the meat in the marinade in the morning and let it sit in the fridge all day and then cook it up quickly. It's really an easy meal. I strongly recommend you try it. Soon. And that's all I have to say. Enjoy.

Tacos al Pastor

Marinade Ingredients:
  • 2 cans (6 oz. each) pineapple orange juice
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons red chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork loin/tenderloin, cubed or thinly sliced 1-inch pieces
Other Taco Ingredients:
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 squeeze lime juice
Instructions:
  • In a medium sized glass bowl, whisk all of the marinade ingredients except the meat. Add the meat and allow to marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours or so.
  • Mix the half cup of diced onion with the 2 tablespoons cilantro and squeeze of lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  • When you're ready to prepare the tacos, prepare a sheet of aluminum foil folded in half to contain the heated tortillas. Then preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot, drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon oil over the center, and place a tortilla. Cook tortilla for approximately 1 minute, or until bottom is starting to brown; flip and cook another minute. Remove hot browned tortilla to the foil, placing it between the layers of foil to keep it warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • When done heating tortillas turn heat up to just above medium. Pour a little oil in the bottom of the pan (about a tablespoon). Remove meat from marinade with a slotted spoon and spread out in the bottom of the pan, taking care not to crowd the pieces of meat. You'll cook about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of meat at a time.
  • Stir meat to cook and caramelize evenly. When meat is cooked through and caramelized on the outside, place cooked meat in a heat-proof container and cover. Continue cooking meat, wiping pan with a clean paper towel between batches. Adjust heat and add oil as needed.
  • When meat is done, place two tortillas on your plate (yes, two--the double layer adds stability), top with about 1/2 cup cooked meat and a tablespoon or so of the cilantro/onion mixture. 
Makes about 6 tacos.

The meat is marinating
Heating a tortilla
Not the most attractive pic, but you can see how much meat to cook at a time
Such good tacos
This is the recipe my brother sent. He's not an exact cook, but he's a good one.






Saturday, April 2, 2016

Gluten Free Deep Pan Pizza Crust

Gluten Free Deep Pan Pizza


As with regular pizza around here, I get tired of making one kind of gluten free pizza crust for my gluten limited son. Since the kid really loved eating Pizza Hut pizza before going gluten free on his pizza, I figured that I needed to try a pan pizza for him. For this recipe, I just used the recipe for Gluten Free French Rolls that originated with a Gluten Free French Bread recipe on the Better Batter Flour website.
I don't know that this pizza tastes like Pizza Hut, but my son said it tasted "like a slice of heaven," and "a little more crispy [than other pizza crust], but it's good." We'll see how he feels after eating the other two pizzas in the freezer. For now, though, I'm calling it a success. Deep pan pizza for my gluten limited son. Good stuff.


Gluten Free Deep Pan Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons (approximately) vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the water, flour, salt, and yeast. Mix on low until flour is moistened. Scrape the sides down and then turn mixer on medium to medium high for about 4 minutes.
  • While dough/batter mixes, spray three 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Drizzle about a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil in the bottom of each pan and then sprinkle with a little garlic salt.
  • When dough/batter is mixed, scoop about 1/3 of the batter into the center of each pan.
  • With wet fingers, spread batter to the edges of the pans, re-wetting fingers as needed to prevent sticking. Drizzle the tops with a little more oil--about 1 to 2 teaspoons each.
  • Allow dough/batter to rise for about 40-45 minutes, uncovered.
  • Right before baking, poke each pan of dough about 10 times with an oiled finger.
  • Place pans in the oven and bake for about 14-18 minutes, or until crust is puffed, set, and starting to brown on the bottom (you'll need to get a spatula or tongs to help lift the crust to get a peak at the bottom).
  • Now you have two choices: 1. Top your pizza with your favorite toppings and place back in the hot oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, or 2. Remove baked crusts to a wire rack to cool completely, place in zip top freezer bags when cool, and freeze until ready to use. Place on parchment or back in a pan when ready to use.

Makes 3 nine-inch pizza crusts






These crusts are frozen and ready for more pizza at a later date.



Friday, April 1, 2016

Simple Shortbread Cookies



Simple Shortbread Cookies

This here is me itching my scratch for Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. I haven't had Lorna Doones in years, and something in me just refuses to buy cookies in the store. Other things, I'm fine with purchasing pre-made, but cookies I am not. 
I looked up copy-cat recipes and also the actual Nabisco Lorna Doone recipe, and this is what I came up with. They're not as thick as I remember Lorna Doones to be, and I think they are slightly less dense, but they are just what I was craving: crisp, buttery, well-browned, and only slightly sweet. 
These spread more than I'd anticipated, but the flavor makes up for their relative flatness. Maybe if I make them again I'll try something different to avoid the spread, but for now, I am satisfied. This recipe is definitely a keeper for me.

Simple Shortbread Cookies
     --adapted from Simple Family Finance

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (if dough isn't coming together)
  • about 2 tablespoons flour + 2 tablespoons sugar mixed together for dusting
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the flour, sugar, salt, and soda. Turn mixer on low to mix the dry ingredients. 
  • Add the butter and  mix on low speed. Dough will look dry and sandy for a while. If it does not come together into a cohesive mass within about 1 minute, add the heavy cream and continue to mix on low until it forms a dough.
  • Dust a clean work surface with half the sugar and flour mixture. Turn dough out onto work surface and flatten roughly into a rectangle shape. Sprinkle with more flour/sugar mixture. Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, trying to maintain a rectangular shape as much as possible. 
  • Cut with a pizza or fluted rotary cutter into about 1 1/2 inch square pieces. You'll have scraps left at the end
  • Place on prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until browned on the edges.
  • Allow to cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies

I cut them this size at first and decided they were too big.



The little scraps make tasty bite-size cookies.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Twice Baked Potato Casserole




These potatoes are actually the inspiration for one of my more popular posts on this blog: Twice Baked Potatoes...Sort Of. My mom has been making these potatoes for years, and she probably got it from someone at church or something. They are FABULOUS--salty, rich, cheesy, creamy, bacony. The perfect side dish for beef or pork. At first my mom made them with fresh potatoes, but eventually changed over to using instant mashed potatoes. I'll put that version at the end. The recipe she sent me also calls for twice the cream cheese, sour cream, and milk. I'm not sure if that's just because the instant mashed potatoes produce a greater volume, but my version filled up a 9 x 13 inch pan perfectly.

Besides tasting out of this world, these potatoes are awesome because you can make them the day/night before and refrigerate. The next day you just pop it into a 350 degree oven to heat through and then add the cheese and bacon. Super easy and great for taking to dinner elsewhere.
So if you're looking for a delicious and convenient potato side dish, look no further. This is it. If you're looking for something light on calories, though, you may need to move on.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

 Ingredients:
  • 4 pounds red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup jarred bacon bits (or a half-pound of bacon, fried and chopped into pieces, or chopped into pieces and fried)
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, dry, pierce, and bake potatoes for about 1 hour, or until potatoes yield when squeezed with an oven-mitted hand.
  • When potatoes are done, carefully remove them from the oven and place them in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if you're going to be using a hand mixer).
  • Break up potatoes with a potato masher or other tool that will break them up into rough chunks.
  • Heat the milk a little bit in the microwave and then pour into the bowl with the potatoes. Add the butter and salt. With the paddle attachment on the mixer, turn the mixer on low speed and mix until milk is basically incorporated. 
  • Add the cream cheese and sour cream. Mix on low at first and then turn up to high and beat until creamy. Scrape the bottom and the Add green onions and mix to incorporate.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the potatoes into the pan. Cover pan with aluminum foil. At this point you can do one of two things: 1. put the potatoes in the refrigerator until the next day, and then bake them in a 350 degree oven for 60-75 minutes; or 2. place back in the oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are piping hot.
  • When potatoes are heated through, remove the foil and sprinkle top with the shredded cheese and then top with the bacon bits. Return to oven for 5 minutes.
  • Serve.
  • Refrigerate leftovers, if you have any.
  • Makes about 12-16 servings
Twice Baked Potato Casserole under the cheese



MAKE AHEAD MASHED POTATOES (Mom's Version)

Ingredients:
  • 6 Cups water
  • 1/4 lb butter (I sometimes omit this fat)
  • 4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (16 oz) container of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced thin
  • 1 (15.3 oz) Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes (flakes: any brand will do)
Topping:
  • 3 cups of grated yellow cheese
  • 1 lb cooked bacon (cut into 1/4" pieces and refrigerate until next day)
Instructions:
1. Heat water, butter, salt, to boiling in a 6 quart Dutch oven. Remove from heat. Add cream
cheese, milk, and sour cream, stirring until cream cheese melts.
2. Stir in potato flakes and green onions, mixing until all ingredients are well combined. Spread mashed potato mixture into 13 x 9-inch glass pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Make ahead: refrigerate until next day. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour covered or until bubbling around the edges. (It takes longer to bake when refrigerated) Allow another 20-30 minutes. I sometimes microwave potatoes to bring up the heat before putting in the oven
4. Cheese and bacon topping: when fully cooked, sprinkle cheese and bacon over potatoes and cover to melt. If potatoes are ready too early, reheat in microwave.

This recipe has 47 gazillion calories and is absolutely a crowd pleaser

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mr. Yoshida's Style Sauce

 
Tasty Mr. Yoshida's style teriyaki sauce


Mr. Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce is what I would call a classic teriyaki sauce--sweet and salty and delicious. It's widely available on the West Coast, but I've only found it once here in Iowa--at SAMs Club when it had accidentally been shipped to our local store. I can order it from Amazon, but since even with two-day shipping I can't get it here in time for my husband's birthday dinner, which I just found out will be Teriyaki Brisket
At first I made this without all the water, and only 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, but it was way too strong. Adding the cup of water and two more tablespoons of cornstarch mellowed it out perfectly. This isn't exactly like Mr. Yoshida's, but it's close enough for me. I'm excited to try it on the brisket and will share those pics later. If I can remember.

Mr. Yoshida's Style Sauce
     --adapted from Food.com

Ingredients:
  • 6 quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger
  • 6 green onions, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 bottle (15 oz.) Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Mirin
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup water
Instructions:
  • Mix the corn starch and water in a bowl or liquid measuring cup and set aside.
  • In a medium to large size heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add all of the ingredients except for the corn starch and water. Stir occasionally as it comes to a boil. When it boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir the corn starch and water mixture and then stir it into the sauce. Simmer for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Allow sauce to cool in the pot for an hour or so, then strain into a jar or bottle for storage. Refrigerate.
Makes 4 cups


 


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