Friday, June 27, 2014

Baking Powder Biscuits

Baking Powder Biscuits

My kids have been watching these random humor videos by a guy named Tobuscus. The one they keep playing for all our enjoyment is called "Nugget in a Biscuit," and so as I was making gluten free chicken tenders and mashed potatoes for dinner, I decided we needed some biscuits to go with them. I actually intended to let the Pillsbury Dough Boy make biscuits for us tonight because, truth be told, I love those biscuits every once in a while. Well, I forgot to buy them, so rather than going without, I broke open my new Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and gave her baking powder biscuit recipe a try because I had no buttermilk. Well, I didn't have enough heavy cream for the recipe either, so of course, I improvised with the wet ingredients you see listed below. They turned out awesome, and I think I may actually like them better than my other go-to Buttermilk Biscuit recipe. I'm pretty sure it's the whole stick of butter in these that makes them so, so good. I mean, I love to slather my biscuits in butter, but these did not need additional butter. Honest. One of my boys did actually, do the "nugget in a biscuit" thing and made a little sandwich or two. And then he proceeded to eat like four more biscuits with butter and then some strawberry jam. I probably ate more than my share as well. So good.
If you're looking for a tasty baking powder biscuit, look no further. Martha has once again proven why she is America's homemaking queen. If you like baking, go ahead and buy her Baking Handbook too.

Baking Powder Biscuits
    --Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook; click here for her recipe online

  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cold, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream*
  • 1/2 cup milk*
  • 1/4 cup sour cream*
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and then line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Toss cold butter into flour mixture, and then with a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it looks like a coarse meal and there are still a few relatively large chunks (1/4 inch) of butter here and there.
Mix the cream, milk, and sour cream with a whisk and then pour into the dry mixture. (*Note: the original recipe just calls for 1 cup heavy cream for the liquid--I didn't have enough heavy cream, so I used cream, milk, and sour cream. You can use any combo, really, as long as it measures 1 cup in the end.
With a silcone/rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients with the wet just until incorporated. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over a few times until it holds together. Be careful to not overwork the dough.
Shape dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut into 12 squares. Place biscuits, evenly spaced, onto parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until nicely browned all over.
Remove from oven and serve hot with butter, jam, honey, etc.
Makes 12 biscuits.

Why cut biscuits in circles? This is way easier and faster.
Ezra's enjoying a nugget in a biscuit

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This is going to sound pathetic, but the other day at an education conference, we were treated with Panera for lunch and dessert. The little cookie and brownie bite just didn't satisfy me, and I didn't get to enjoy them with milk. I appetite had been whetted, and I was compelled to go home and mix up some chocolate chocolate chunk cookies with which I could enjoy a tall glass of cold milk. The funny thing is that this dough requires at least a 24 hour rest time in the fridge, so I didn't even get to enjoy these until the next evening. They were worth the wait.

Although the cookies themselves don't look all that deep and dark in color, because of the relatively large amount of chocolate chunks in the batter, the flavor is super chocolatey. When these cookies are still warm out of the oven, they are crisp around the edges and soft in the middle. Very nice. Once they cool, though, they lose the crisp edge and just become chewy, which is also very nice. I can tell you for sure that they are delicious at all stages because I've eaten waaaay too many of them trying to get some decent pics of the inside. I know, I know. I don't HAVE to eat them to take pics, but, um, these were so good that I wanted to.
Since I really have enjoyed my Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies that involve a little bit of cream cheese in the dough, I decided to adapt it into a chocolate cookie, and it works. The only problem I had with these was the stickiness of the dough. I tried to refrigerate the dough in a brownie pan lined with parchment, like I've been doing with some chocolate chunk cookies. Unfortunately, it was just too messy to be worth the "ease" of that portioning method. So, if you're going to do this, I just recommend using a cookie scoop.

P.S. I have to tell you, these cookies do taste better than I have been able to capture with my pics. There's something super difficult about photographing chocolate cookies, and since I'm just a photography hack, it shows in pics like the ones you see here. 

Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies
       --adapted from For Me-For You who in a roundabout way got it from Jacques Torres

  • 1 cup cake flour 
  • 2/3 cups  King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, such as kosher

  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 9 oz. good quality semi sweet chocolate chips/chunks/discs (I used two 9.5 oz bags of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, unwrapped an chopped into large chunks.)
Combine flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Put dry ingredients through a sieve to sift them together. Set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, cream cheese, and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low/stir; then add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chunks, and mix briefly to incorporate. Place in an airtight plastic container, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Once chilled, you can bake or scoop dough balls to freeze for later baking.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Place 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoon scoops onto parchment lined cookie sheets and leave about 2 inches between cookies. Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes or until puffed and set at the edges. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more. 
Enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk. Mmmm...

Makes about 4 dozen smallish cookies

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chicken Salad Sandwich (on Focaccia)

Chicken Salad Sandwich (on Focaccia)--good stuff
This is another one of those "recipes" that is so simple, it seems silly to post it. I love it, though, and I want to share it with the blogosphere. I usually enjoy this chicken salad on a croissant, but since I've been on this focaccia kick, I started using focaccia, and I have to tell you, it takes chicken salad to a different level--spices it up a little bit. When I have chicken salad, I have to eat it with alfalfa sprouts too. If you don't have an aversion to this veggie, you really need to try it with chicken salad, on focaccia, a croissant, or whatever your favorite bread is. Do it.

Chicken Salad Sandwich (on Focaccia)


  • 1/2 cup shredded leftover rotisserie chicken
  • 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sliced and toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 3x5 piece of focaccia, sliced horizontally for a sandwich

In a small bowl, mix the chicken and mayonnaise. Then stir in the almonds. Open up the focaccia and place chicken salad on the bottom half. Place alfalfa sprouts on top of chicken salad. Top with the top of the focaccia. Enjoy.
Serves 1

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mini Apple Turnovers

Mini Apple Turnovers
Just enough apple filling

Summer vacation means I have time to bake. I've been wanting to make some Three-Bite Dutch Letters to have in the freezer for my husband, and I thought it might also be fun to use the leftover apple filling I have from the last time I made Dutch Apple Pie Cookies to make some mini apple turnovers. And this is what I did. 
It's somewhat uncommon these days that my husband will try something new I've made, and his eyes will widen and he'll say something like, "Wow!" He's so used to my cooking and baking, that it's hard to get a "Wow" any more. These did it, and that makes me happy.
I really like these because 1. They involve puff pastry--one of my favorites, 2. They are cute, and 3. You can hold them in your hand without the risk of dribbling the contents all over the place. Plus they taste great. 
This is just one more yummy thing you can do with the fabulous dough originally meant for Jaarsma's Dutch Letters. What will be next?

Mini Apple Turnovers

  • 4 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (1 pound) cold butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 batch of apple filling (recipe below)
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream & 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, for icing, if desired
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and the salt. Cut cold butter into half-inch slices and add to the flour mixture. Toss until butter pieces are coated with flour and separated from each other.
Stir egg and ice water together and then pour all at once into the flour/butter mixture. Using a spoon quickly mix until you see no obvious wet spots. Butter will still be in large pieces and "dough" will be in shaggy bits and there will still be lots of flour that's not mixed in yet.
Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper (or a lightly floured pastry cloth if you have one). Knead the dough ten times or so by pressing and pushing dough together, using the parchment between your hands and the dough, to form a rough square shape. Using a little extra flour for the rolling pin, roll dough into a 15x10 inch rectangle. Fold 2 short sides to meet in the center. Bring the top edge down to meet the bottom edge to form 4 layers. You will now have a long rectangle about 7 1/2 by 5 inches.
Repeat rolling and folding process once more. Wrap dough in the parchment paper you're using, and then wrap that in plastic wrap. Chill dough for 20-30 minutes. Repeat rolling and folding process two more times, and then chill the dough another 20 minutes before forming turnovers.
Once dough is chilled, and the filling is cooled, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Refrigerate remaining pieces while you work with one piece at a time.
Roll the fourth of dough out into an approximate 13 x13 inch square. Trim the sides with a pizza cutter to "square it up" and made the edges clean.* Cut the large square into sixteen relatively equal sqares. Brush two adjacent sides of each square with the egg white and water mixture. Then scoop about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of apple filling into the middle of each square. Fold the square into a triangle and press edges slightly to create an initial seal. Then take a fork and go around the seams of each triangle and press firmly to seal. Then take a sharp knife and poke 2 vents in the top of each triangle. 
At this point, you can either freeze turnovers on a wax paper lined sheet pan and then transfer to freezer bags so you can bake them up later a few at time, or you can place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, refrigerate for 15-20 minutes, and then bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes. If you're going to bake the frozen turnovers, place as many as you want to bake, about 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow them to sit at room temperature while you allow the oven to get to a nice 375 degrees Fahrenheit (I recommend at least a 30 minute preheat).
When turnovers are golden brown and puffed, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. When turnovers have cooled about 10-15 minutes, you can drizzle them lightly with icing, or eat them as-is.

*You can bake the scraps up just for fun and snacking...or you can freeze them for the next time you make Chicken Pot Pie Soup and you can eat that with the soup instead of the pie crust. YUM!

Makes 64 mini turnovers

Apple Filling

  • 4 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup water (or 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup apple juice)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
In a large bowl, toss diced apple with lemon juice and set aside.  Pour water (or water + apple juice) into a high-rimmed saute pan over medium heat.  Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, & nutmeg.  Add to liquid in pan, stir well, and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add apples and return to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 10-12 minutes.  Stir in raisins. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and cool completely before using.

This is the dough rolled out the first time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Focaccia Pizza

Easy focaccia pizza

Lately my son has wanted focaccia for at least two meals a day. A warm, buttered square for breakfast, and a ham, pepperoni, and mayo focaccia sandwich for lunch. Last week I doubled the recipe and froze about 22 nice squarish pieces of focaccia. We are almost through that batch. This week, since we're on summer vacation, I decided to use some of that focaccia for some quick pizza for lunch. I knew it would be good, but it's acutally way better than I even anticipated. The focaccia makes for an almost biscuit-like crust, but with enough body to hold together and get crunchy on the bottom and around the edges. The open cut soaks in the sauce, and the whole thing is just easy and delicious. I'm sure this would be great on store-bought focaccia too, but it's so easy to make, I really recommend you try it.

Focaccia Pizza for One
(recipe is easily multiplied to suit your crowd)


  • 1 piece of focaccia (about 4 x 5 inches) sliced in half horizontally
  • 4 tablespoons pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup (approx.) shredded mozerella cheese (or some Italian cheese blend)
  • 2-4 slices deli size pepperoni, cut into little squares
  • other pizza toppings, as desired

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and lay the two focaccia halves on top, cut side up.
Spread about 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce onto each focaccia half. Sprinkle with cheese and top with pepperoni or other pizza toppings.
Bake at 450 degrees for about 8-12 minutes, depending on how done you like your pizza.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before eating.
Serves 1

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Caramel Almond Rice Krispie Treats

Caramel Almond Rice Krispie Treats

  • After making Rice Krispie treats the other day, I decided I needed to make something else interesting with crisp rice cereal. Caramel seemed a natural crisp rice cereal treat adhesive, so I googled some recipes and saw that it's been done--a lot of them being "salted caramel" variations. 
  • The first time I made these I cooked the caramel to 240 degrees Fahrenheit, and they turned out rock hard. Edible if you microwaved them before eating. Not ideal. After cooking the caramel to only about 217 degrees, I got the results I wanted: chewy, crispy, nutty, sweet and satisfying. Way better than plain old Rice Krispy treats. 

  • Caramel Almond Rice Krispie Treats
  • Ingredients
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (optional)
Line a 9 x 13- inch pan with parchment paper. Place pan on top of a wire cooling rack.
In a large heavy-bottomed stock pot, combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, whipping cream, salt, and butter. Monitor the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer stirring occasionally, but carefully with a silicone spatula. When the thermometer reaches 215-218 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in vanilla. 
Stir in rice cereal and almonds until incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and smooth top with silicone spatula. 
Place 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips over half the treats, or 1 1/2 cups over the whole thing, depending on whether you want to have a none, a few, or all with chocolate on top. 
Wait about 10 minutes and then spread melted chocolate over the top.
Allow treats to cool a couple of hours before cutting. It actually takes a long time for the chocolate to set up. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 24-36 servings

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