Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
The streusel is tucked into the sides too. Super yummy.
Moist, light, and pumpkiny interior
I've thought about making these muffins before, as I made their banana version. Today was a good opportunity because I had friends coming over for a morning meeting, and it's fall, and I happened to have a can of pumpkin sitting in my cupboard. And they worked. I like 'em. These muffins are slightly less dense than a pumpkin bread, so that they stand up to their muffin name. They're very moist and just sweet enough with all of that streusel on top and actually on the sides too. I used a large cookie scoop to get the batter into the muffin cups, and that left room on the sides for the streusel to fall. It got nice and crisp there on the side, and therefore made each bite sweet and fantastic.
If you make these, you may want to play with the spices a little. They're not super spiced, and most of the spice flavor hits you at the end of the bite as opposed to the beginning, which is fine by me. 
So, there you go. This is me, not knowing how to end this post. Glad I'm not doing this to get paid. 

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Muffin Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (pecans and/or walnuts)--optional
Streusel Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves; stir in one cup of chopped nuts, if desired; set aside.

Combine streusel ingredients in a medium bowl and rub with fingers until it's crumbly and butter is all mixed in. Stir in the other 1/2 cup of nuts, if desired. Set aside

Combine pumpkin, sugars, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans. Top each muffin with a couple of tablespoons of nutty streusel.

Bake in preheated oven. Bake average size muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

Makes about 18 average size muffins, or 6 jumbo and 5 average size muffins

Apple Streusel Galette

Apple Streusel Galette

At first I was going to call this "Panless Dutch Apple Pie," but apparently it's called a "galette." Whatever you name it, it's delicious. Everything I love in an apple pie: plenty of buttery, flaky crust, sweet & tart tender granny smith apples, and a sweet & crisp streusel topping. Mmmm. This one was made in honor of my friend Christie who loves most baked goods involving apples. She came over last night for dinner and a yarn shopping trip--then she later showed me how to start crocheting an afghan. Good times indeed. 
This is just a nice, relatively easy, yummy way to eat some apple pie. It's even great for breakfast. Give it a go.

Apple Streusel Galette

Streusel Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Filling Ingredients:
  • 3 medium granny smith apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 ¼ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoon Crisco (vegetable shortening)
  • 3-4 tablespoon ice cold water
  • flour for dusting 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

For the streusel... in a medium bowl, mix the white sugar, graham crumbs and flour. Add sliced butter and toss to separate butter slices. With your fingers, gently smoosh the butter into the dry ingredients until butter is entirely incorporated and the mixture looks like wet sand, with some clumps here and there. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the filling... peel, core, and quarter the apples. Slice each quarter into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices. Place all of the apple slices in a medium bowl, add the lemon juice, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon, and then fold gently to disperse the dry ingredients. Set aside while you prepare the crust.

For the crust... get two square pieces of wax paper. Place one on a flat surface for rolling, and lightly flour the wax paper. Then, in a medium bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until you have quarter-inch chunks of butter. Add the vegetable shortening and continue cutting until you have some sandy parts and some larger chunks of butter and shortening (a few quarter-inch chunks here and there--see pic below). Drizzle in the ice water and toss with a fork until the dough starts to clump. 

Then use your hands to gently knead the dough into a relatively cohesive mass--be careful not to over work the dough, or your crust will be tough. Turn out onto the lightly floured wax paper, sprinkle with a little more flour and top with the other piece of wax paper. Roll the dough out into a rough 13-inch circle (dough will likely extend beyond the wax paper--just keep the surface floured so it doesn't stick). 

Remove the top layer of wax paper and carefully turn dough over onto the prepared baking sheet with parchment. Remove the wax paper and center the dough on the pan/parchment. 

Assembling the galette... Pour/scoop the apples into the middle of the dough circle, leaving about 3 inches apple free. Try to make sure the top of the apple mound is slightly flattened so that it can hold more streusel. Carefully scoop the streusel all over the apple mound. Now, fold up the dough edges to form rough pleats around the edge. Press lightly to make sure the pleats hold.

Bake galette at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until nicely browned and a knife inserted into the center meets little resistance. Check the galette about halfway through baking. If the streusel seems to be browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil on top without pressing down--just let it sit there on top.

When done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before serving. 

Serves 4-6

Crust dough before water is added.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Chicken Alfredo Pizza on Focaccia Crust

Chicken Alfredo Pizza on Focaccia Crust

My original plan for dinner tonight was just the regular old thin crust pizza. Somehow I didn't manage to make the dough in time, which tastes better with a slow rise in the fridge. So, then I thought I'd make pepperoni pizza on a focaccia crust because focaccia is a fast bread to make. THEN I remembered that I had one chicken breast in the fridge that I needed to use, so I decided to try this. Although I think the crust is too thick (I'll probably divide it into thirds next time), it was flavorful, creamy, and satisfying nonetheless. My eating buddy Ezra and I enjoyed it thoroughly, and we even have some leftovers for lunch today. Mmmm.
When I was making this pizza, it didn't feel like a ton of ingredients and work, because I've made each part dozens of times. When I started typing out the ingredients, though, I thought, "Hmmm. Other people may find this overwhelming." So, if you're a novice in the kitchen, you may want to try taking some shortcuts on this, like using rotisserie chicken and a pre-made pizza crust (could be one that you made yourself and froze, for instance). You can't shortcut the sauce, though. Obviously, it's in the name. Plus, it's really easy to make.
I actually only made one pizza when I made this, and I have half a cup of leftover sauce in my fridge. The crust that I did not use for the Alfredo pizza turned into a pepperoni pizza that, honestly, was a bit disappointing. Again, the crust was much too thick for what I had going on on top. At least this one turned out, and I think I will be making it again sometime.

Chicken Alfredo Pizza on Focaccia Crust

Chicken Ingredients*:
Focaccia Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for pans
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, plus more for bottom
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon (approx) Italian seasoning
Alfredo Sauce Ingredients (adapted from
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour (I used Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Other Pizza Toppings:
  • 2 cups or so clean fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2-3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 cups grated Italian cheese blend

For the chicken...
Mix all of the Chicken Ingredients in a large zip-top bag, or in a medium size bowl. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator while you prepare the crust.
At some point while the dough rises or the crust bakes, either grill the chicken until done, or fry in a pan on the stove set to medium until chicken is done and browned on two sides.
Allow to cool a bit and then cut into 1/8-1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
*I'm only very specific here about how I prepared the chicken because it's what I did, and I love this seasoning. Any savory, garlicky prepared chicken will work fine. Two cups of sliced/diced chicken should do it.

For the focaccia crust...
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, put in the water, oil, salt, garlic salt, flour, yeast, and Parmesan cheese. Mix on low until dry ingredients are moistened and then mix on high for about 1 minute. Remove paddle attachment, scraping off as much dough as you can. Allow dough to rest while you prepare the pans (makes it easier to spread the dough in the pans).
Drizzle about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil into two 9-inch cake pans and thoroughly grease bottoms and side with the olive oil. Sprinkle a little garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning into the bottom of each pan. 
Divide dough in half and press one half into each pan, using greased hands. If you can, try to make the dough a little thicker at the edges. (My focaccia ended up with a bit of a dome that was hard to work with.) Allow dough to rise for one hour.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until puffed and starting to brown on top.
While dough rises and then bakes, prepare the Alfredo sauce and chicken.

For the Alfredo sauce...
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons butter. Add minced garlic and stir. Cook garlic for about 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon flour and stir, cooking for about 1 minute more. Whisk in heavy cream and then whisk in the Parmesan and pepper. Turn heat down to low and whisk until sauce is thick and creamy. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the pizza...
Turn the oven up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spread half the sauce onto each crust. Top each with about 1 cup baby spinach leaves. Then top each with half the chicken and then half the cheese.
Place pans on a baking sheet just in case the cheese oozes over.
Bake at 450 degrees until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. 
Carefully run a sharp knife around the edge of each pan to loosen the pizza. Using a strong spatula, carefully remove the pizza from the pan to a cutting board lined with parchment paper. If the cheese sticks use the spatula or the knife to loosen it before removing the pizza from the pan.
Cut each pizza into six slices (I suggest using a large sharp knife and cutting straight down; I used a pizza cutter, and it was a mess--crust was too thick).
Serves 4-6 people, depending on their appetites and what else you're serving.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

The pizza was so thick that the cutting
part got a little messy, but you can see
all of the yummy creamy sauce under
the toppings. Mmmmmmmm.

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