Saturday, February 6, 2016

Garlic Butter Sauce

Garlic Butter Sauce is fabulous on pizza crust.

Garlic butter and bread, such a happy pairing. I've always enjoyed these two together, but here in Des Moines we have a pizza delivery place called Northern Lights Pizza. They have these amazing breadsticks served swimming in a salty peppery garlic butter sauce. Warm, puffy logs of soft pizza crust with just the right amount of butter, salt, pepper, and garlic. Mmm. I always eat too many. 
Since we've been trying to eat homemade food more lately, I finally tried making my own garlic butter sauce, and it's surprisingly easy to make an equally delicious sauce at home. 
We enjoy dipping our crust from Bubbly No Knead Pizza in this sauce, and it tastes pretty awesome spread on fresh hot homemade baby French Batards (need to post that recipe still).  
Any place you like a savory butter, this would work, in my opinion. So good.
What's nice about it, too, is that you can keep it in the refrigerator, and it firms up to a very soft butter consistency, so it's spreadable out of the fridge. At room temperature, it's mostly liquid, and good for dipping.
So here you go. Another simple and delicious way to enjoy butter and garlic together.

Garlic Butter Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Place butter and olive oil in a small saucepan or saute pan over low heat. While butter melts, mince the garlic. Add garlic to melted butter & olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook on low for one minute and then turn off the heat and allow to sit until cool. 
Serve with pizza (crust) or hot bread.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Use within about 10 days.

Makes about 2/3 cup
The sauce becomes semi-solid upon refrigeration.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Orange Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf

Orange Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf

I got to make a Trader Joe's run this afternoon and lucky me, they had Sky Valley Heirloom Navel Oranges. Of course I bought a bag and ate two of them on the way home. As I did so, I got it in my head to make this pull-apart loaf. Actually, at first they were going to be orange cinnamon rolls, but then I recalled all the Pinterest pics of these pull-apart loaves. (Check out the beautiful loaves on How Sweet It Is--her pics are so much better than mine.)
My goal was to make something that tasted like Pillbury Orange Sweet Rolls, and oh my goodness, I think I did it. I really think the keys to the fabulous orange flavor is the orange zest AND the orange extract. If you're going to do this, be sure to get the orange extract because it ads the extra orange punch you want. Seriously. Do it.
Now, I know the recipe below seems strange. I mean, one Orange Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf and then Dinner Rolls is a strange combo, but I had some leftover Carnitas that I wanted to use for pulled pork buns, and I thought these Basic Bread Dinner Rolls would be perfect. (They were.) 
You can certainly double the pull-apart loaf ingredients and make two pull-apart loaves, but just be sure you have a way to share if you do that. It's super easy to eat way too much of this stuff. It's taking all of my willpower to not pull off a couple of more pieces right now.
The bread is tender but not too soft--the end pieces being crusty, chewy, sugar glazed bites of heaven. The glaze is very orange-y with an extra brightness thanks to the orange zest. Despite all of the glaze, I don't think this loaf is over-the-top sweet. It's very sweet, but in a happily satisfying way. The cinnamon perfectly balances with the orange, allowing the orange be the star flavor.
I plan to make this again for my church small group Saturday. It is this plan that is helping me maintain any sort of self-control. Hopefully I'll get some better pics too.
So here you go. Enjoy.

Orange Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf and Dinner Rolls
      --somewhat inspired by How Sweet It Is

Dough/Roll Ingredients:
Additional Pull-Apart Loaf Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of same orange
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a large bowl, place 2 cups of the flour along with the sugar, yeast, dry milk, and salt. Stir to combine dry ingredients and then break the butter up with your fingers and add to the dry ingredients. Pour in the water and with a spoon or bowl scraper (preferably), mix the water into the dry ingredients. You will have a soupy, lumpy mixture. 
  • Add another cup of flour and mix and chop in the flour. Add another cup of flour, and mix and chop it into the dough. At this point, add another half cup, mixing and chopping the flour in. Dough should be soft, but firm, and only a little sticky, or tacky. If the dough is still rather loose, keep adding flour, a small amount at a time, until it's soft, but firm, and only a little tacky (like I said earlier).
  • Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface. Knead dough by lifting the top up and folding it forward onto itself and press back gently with an open hand. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, and bounces back quickly when gently poked. 
  • Place dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise at room temperature for about an hour, or until puffy and nearly doubled.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When dough is done rising, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, pat down to deflate, and cut in half. Use a standard loaf pan (9 x 5 inches) for the pull-apart bread, and a standard cake pan for the rolls. Spray your pans with nonstick cooking spray (or, alternately, butter the pans well).
  • To form the rolls, pull the edges of the dough half to the top/center of the dough and pinch to make a dough purse. Flatten into a disk shape and cut into eight equal portions. Take each portion of dough and shape it into a little dough purse. Form each dough purse into a smooth ball. I recommend watching the video in this post to see how to get a smooth ball. Place dough balls in the pan. 
  • For the pull-apart bread, on a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to about 3/8 inch thickness and about 12 x 20 inches in size. Spread melted and cooled butter all over the surface of the dough, right to the edges. Mix cinnamon with the half cup of sugar and sprinkle all over the buttered dough. Cut dough lengthwise in thirds so that you have three long strips. Lay the middle strip on top of one of the sides and then lay the other side piece on top of that. Dough will stretch and deform, just try to make them fit. Once dough is layered, cut into eight somewhat equally sized pieces. Stack up half of the dough and place staked dough sideways into pan. Stack remaining dough and place in pan.
  • Cover pans loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 30 minutes at room temperature, until about doubled and puffed.
  • Bake for 25 to 40 minutes, or until outside is a deep golden brown.
  • While bread bakes, make the glaze by mixing together the orange zest and juice, powdered sugar, and orange extract.
  • Remove from oven and the remove the rolls from pan and place on a cooling rack. 
  • Run a knife or spatula around the edge of the pull-apart loaf. Turn out and place right side up on a serving plate or a cooling rack set over a sheet pan. Pour glaze all over the loaf, making sure to get every nook and cranny.
  • Serve rolls and loaf hot.

Makes 8 rolls and one pull-apart loaf

It does not look pretty at this stage. Still delish though.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

KAF Vermont Cheese Crackers

Homemade Cheese Crackers. Salty and fabulous.
I know a lot of these look burnt, but that's the way I prefer them. Yum.

I really think that PJ Hamel over at King Arthur Flour's blog, Flourish, said it best:  "I love cheese crackers. LOVE LOVE LOVE cheese crackers. Cheez-Its, Cheese Nips, even Cheetos fall into that same delightful category of cheesy CRUNCH." PJ and I are kindred spirits on this matter. 
I've been known to make myself nearly sick on Cheez-Its and Crunchy Cheetos. I just can't stop sometimes. I'm a sucker for salty snacks in general, but cheesy salty snacks are probably my favorite. These here crackers are very salty and very satisfying. (Skip the salt on top if you want to avoid some sodium.)
These crackers aren't as light and crisp as a store-bought cracker, but they do have crunch and great flavor, especially with the addition of a little Pizza Dough Flavor. I'll definitely be eating all of these, and I'll try to pace myself. 
Glad I finally gave this recipe a go.

KAF Vermont Cheese Crackers
   --adapted from

  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Vermont cheese powder (I used Cabot Cheddar Shake)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Pizza Dough Flavor (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling, if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 7-9 tablespoons ice water
  • In a medium or large mixing bowl, place the flour, cheese powder, pizza dough flavor, yeast, salt, and baking powder. Mix thoroughly with a whisk.
  • Add the vegetable shortening and cut in with a pastry blender until incorporated and mixture is crumbly. 
  • Add ice water 1-2 tablespoons at a time and mix until a cohesive dough forms. Try not to over mix. Knead the dough just enough to get it into a ball, cut in half, and then shape each half into a small rectangle, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Wrap each rectangle in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • After dough has chilled, roll out one piece of dough at a time on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Try to roll as close to 1/16 inch as you can.
  • Using a pizza or rotary pastry cutter, cut dough into 1 1/4 inch squares. Then pierce each square once with a fork (to prevent pita-like puffing).
  • If you'd like additional salt on top of your crackers, use a water spray bottle to spray a fine mist of water over the tops of the crackers and then immediately sprinkle with a little salt.
  • Either place pan in oven or slide parchment onto a baking stone or baking steel if you have them. On the pan or the stone, bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes, or until edge pieces are well browned. If you're using a baking steel, then check your crackers at 5 minutes (sooner if they're super thin).
  • Remove crackers you consider dark enough to a cooling rack, separate the remaining crackers, and return to the oven for another 3 minutes to further crisp the crackers. (If your crackers are relatively thick, you may need to lower the temperature to about 325 and bake for 10-12 more minutes to dry them out. I would do this after you've baked the second batch though.)
  • Repeat with remaining dough. 
  • Cool crackers completely on a cooling rack and then store in an airtight container.
Makes about 160 crackers, plus edge pieces, fewer if your crackers are thicker

This reminded me of the counties map of Iowa.
These got rolled pretty darn thin.
I only remembered to salt the second batch. I like the salted ones better.
The baking steel baked these much faster than I anticipated. I love the burnt ones though.
This is all of them--minus a bunch of the burnt edges that I already ate.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Japanese Milk Bread

Japanese Milk Bread

Ah, I wish that I could say something interesting or clever about how I came to make this bread. I'm just going to sum things up by saying that it was a snowy stay-indoors kind of day, so I decided to try my hand at this Japanese milk bread I've seen here and there on Pinterest.
Since I've never had Japanese milk bread before, I'm not sure if I did it right. This bread ended up a lot moister and denser than I thought it would. It's flaky crusty on the outside, and dense and tender on the inside. I enjoyed a couple of pieces with some butter. 
There's a slight sweetness to the bread, but not so much that I'd call it sweet. My husband thought it would taste good with something like a beef stew, where you could sop up the liquid with the bread. I think it might taste good with some black forest ham and a little mayo.
So, Japanese milk bread. There it is. And here's the recipe. Enjoy.

Japanese Milk Bread
      --adapted from

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, plus a little more for kneading
  • 2 tablespoons Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup melted and cooled butter
  • egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • In a small saucepan, whisk together the 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons milk, and 2 tablespoons flour. Place saucepan over low heat and whisk while it heats. When mixture thickens and you can see the bottom of the pan when you run the whisk through, it's done (about 3 to 5 minutes). Place in a large mixing bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Add the milk to the cooled mixture in the mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the 2 1/2 cups flour, dry milk, sugar, salt, yeast, egg and butter. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured kneading surface and knead gently until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding only a tiny amount of flour at a time to keep the dough from sticking. Remember to knead with a gentle hand.
  • Place dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes. Dough will get puffy, but it may not double.
  • Butter/grease a 9 1/2 by 6 1/2-inch pan (maybe 10 x 7 is a better description, my pan was 9 1/2 x 6 1/2 measured on the inside). Set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When dough has risen, turn it out of the bowl and cut into four equal pieces.
  • Form each piece into a small loaf that just about fits the width of the pan. Cover and allow to rise 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Brush loaves with egg wash and bake at 350 degrees for 28-32 minutes, or until bread is deep golden brown on top. The bread's interior temperature should reach at least 190 degrees.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan and moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Makes 8 servings


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Almond Flour Chocolate Toffee Brownie Cookies

Almond Flour Chocolate Toffee Brownie Cookies

These cookies are simply a variation of the Double Chocolate Almond Flour Cookies that I have here on this blog. I have a bunch of toffee bits and mini chocolate chips left over from a Scoopable Baked Cheesecake I made for a potluck; plus I had a bag of almond meal/flour needing to be baked into something. I added walnuts to make them more brownie-like and because they taste good. 
Just like the Double Chocolate Almond Flour Cookies, these cookies are not super sweet. The toffee adds some sweetness, flavor and crunch. 
Just cooled out of the oven, these cookies were crisp on the edges and tender in the middle. The texture is a little grainy because of the almond flour, but I still think these are delicious. If you are new to gluten-free cookies, these may not be awesome to you, but if you're used to non-wheat cookies, and you're a fan of chocolate, I think you'll enjoy these cookies.
If you try them, please leave me a comment and let me know your impression. I'm curious.

Almond Flour Chocolate Toffee Brownie Cookies
   --adapted from The Wannabe Chef who adapted recipe from The Food Lovers' Primal Palate

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour/meal
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup toffee bits
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sift cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Stir in almond flour using a wire whisk.
Cream butter and sugar until very light, about 2-3 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Add salt and baking soda and beat until incorporated.  Mix in cocoa and almond flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts and toffee bits.
Scoop about two tablespoon mounds onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet (or use a medium sized cookie scoop), placing about an inch and a half apart.  Gently smoosh dough to make almost 1/2-inch thick disks.  
Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until puffed and cracked.
Allow to cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

By the time these were baked, the light was done for the day. :/

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Two-Hour Caramels: Worth Every Minute

Slow-cooked caramels with almonds. 
Some got a little dip in Dove milk chocolate.
Caramels wrapped simply in wax paper

When I was growing up in Southern California, Christmastime involved a box or two of Sees Candy--Nuts and Chews to be precise. And my favorite grew to be the cube of caramel with almonds, dipped halfway in milk or dark chocolate. The caramel was rich and sweet, just firm enough to be chewy as opposed to gooey. The nuts were always crunchy and the chocolate just rounded off the whole experience.
Sees' almond caramels had many more almonds than these, I think, but the main point of this project was the caramel. I was determined to devote two hours on a weeknight to making these things because the picture I saw on King Arthur Flour's Instagram had me hooked.
They were this deep brown caramel color--definitely not the same as the light colored caramels I was used to making.
So far I've made these twice. I've made this caramel many times now (some might say too many times). The first time I somehow omitted the brown sugar and only used the four cups of white sugar. They still turned out fabulous. When I've made the caramels with brown sugar, it obviously produced a larger volume of caramel.
I think that I might prefer the first caramel made with only four cups of white sugar. I also used heavy cream and 1% milk, since I had those on hand, rather than the half and half. For some reason, I think the flavor if that first batch is a bit deeper and more complex, I think because it has a higher percentage of salt due to the omission of some sugar.
Either way, this is a winning recipe, totally worth the time it takes to make them. 
One of these batches makes a LOT of caramels, so be prepared to give some away.
Give it a go. You will love them.

Two-Hour Caramels
     --Adapted from

  • 3 tablespoons vanilla extract (measured and set aside for the end)
  • 2 cups butter, cut into one-inch chunks
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups light brown sugar*
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups roasted unsalted almonds
  • Line a half-sheet pan (or two 9x13 inch pans) with parchment and spread almonds evenly over the bottom. Place parchment in another small dish, like an 8x8 inch pan or a pie plate--this is where you will pour the caramel you scrape from the pan. Place on a heat proof surface, like stove burners set to "off" or on a cooling rack. Also make sure you've measured your vanilla and set it aside where you can grab it once the caramel reaches temperature. 
  • Gather things you need to entertain you for the next two hours and/or make sure someone is home to spell you in case you need to use the restroom or just take a little break. You've been told.
  • Into a large heavy-bottomed stock pot (like an eight-quart stock pot), put the sugars, butter, half and half, corn syrup and salt. Place the pot on a burner set to medium-low heat. Stir with a silicone spatula taking care not to splash it around. When butter is melted clip a candy thermometer on the side and pull up a tall chair or stool.
  • Keep stirring gently for the next hour and a half to two hours until the caramel reaches exactly 246 degrees** Fahrenheit on the candy thermometer. Remove the thermometer, and then remove the pot from the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Carefully pour the screaming hot caramel over the almonds, which I need to tell you will shift at this time. Once most of the caramel has been poured from the pan, pour the last bit and scrape out the pan into the smaller parchment-lined pan you have ready.
  • Use your silicone spatula to make sure caramel gets to all corners of the pan. With oven-mitted hands, carefully lift and tap the pan of hot caramel to force air bubbles up and out. 
  • Allow caramel to cool for 30 to 60 minutes and then place in the refrigerator to cool completely if you want to cut it the same day. If you can let it cool/set overnight, then allow it to cool enough to loosely place some foil or a plastic sheet pan cover on the top--not completely sealed up, so any condensation will escape.
  • When caramel has completely set up and is firm, cut it up and wrap caramels individually in small pieces of wax paper.
  • I cut my caramels into 2 x 1/2 inch sticks, which is a nice sized piece, and I got 132 pieces. 
  • Makes about 10 dozen caramels
*The first time I made these I accidentally omitted the brown sugar completely and only added the 4 cups of white sugar with the other ingredients. I liked the caramel better because to me it had a more complex flavor, which I think was caused by the relative higher amount of salt. So this is the way I make the caramel now. I just leave out the brown sugar. Either way it's the best caramel you'll ever make.
**The original recipe calls for the caramel to be cooked to exactly 248 degrees Fahrenheit, but I've found with carryover cooking, if I bring it to 246, by the time I add the vanilla, stir it in, and pour the caramel into the pan, it gets to exactly the right temperature. When I cooked it to 248, I ended up with caramel that was just a tad too hard and would crack slightly upon cutting and biting. The 246 temp produces caramel that is firm, but still allows your teeth to sink in gently with absolutely no crunch.


Monday, December 14, 2015

French Bread Cinnamon Toast

I first saw this cinnamon toast method on The Pioneer Woman's show on Food Network. I didn't try it, though, until I had a loaf of homemade French Batard that I wanted to use up before it went stale. I cut the bread thick and spread the cinnamon sugar butter on thick as well. What resulted really is the best cinnamon toast you'll ever enjoy. It's super buttery, and the layer of cinnamon sugar broiled on top is just the right amount of sweet to make this a decadent, yet simple and satisfying breakfast. If you're a fan of cinnamon toast, and you have some French bread on hand, you really must try this. I guarantee you will love it.

French Bread Cinnamon Toast
      --adapted from

  • 4 thick cut slices of French Batard (large French bread Loaf, 1-inch slices)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Turn your oven on to broil.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Mix the butter, sugars, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Spread about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar butter onto each slice of bread. 
Place pan in oven and broil until topping is bubbling, fragrant, and starts to brown.
Remove from oven and serve hot.

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