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Italian Bolognese and Spinach Braid

December 10, 2009

I love italian food. Love it. In fact a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer is on my Christmas list.  But seriously, what is better than Italian food?  Mexican? Maybe.  But it’s a close call. I wanted to make something italian, but I wanted to make a braid, and I didn’t want to make another loaf of bread for garlic bread.  So I made this. Was it any good you may ask?  I ate two pieces and my husband ate the rest. That night.

Start with some dough, flour, and…hearts? Love?  Isn’t Italy known as being romantic?  I have never been and frankly I want to go but I don’t. Cause I will eat so much Italian food that I will never be able to have American-Italian again and that could ruin me.  Or I guess I could go to school in Italy and learn to make good pasta. I digress.  Roll out the doug about 1/4-1/2 in wide.

Add a layer of mozzarella, sauce of your choice, (I chose Bolognese), and then some fresh spinach.

Fresh Spinach makes all the difference.  Look how pretty it looks, all lined up there.

Cut 1 inch sections on the long sides of the dough, and then fold around the filling.

Bake until golden brown.  I added a bit of garlic powder on the top per my husband’s request. It added that bit of Italian flare.  Cut and enjoy!

P.S. Sugar Duchess gave me the idea, and the recipe is adapted from hers.  She used an apricot and cream cheese filling! If I was not so lazy, I would have made that one for dessert!

Italian Bolognese Spinach Braid

1/2 tablespoon of instant yeast {only so that it doesn’t have to rise twice}

1/4 cup of warm milk

1/8 cup of butter, softened

1 egg

pinch of salt

1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour

1 jar sauce of your choice

handful (or so) of mozzarella cheese

heaping 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the dour except only half of the flour.  Mix the rest of the flour in by hand.  The dough will be very sticky, so maybe put a little olive oil or butter on them before you mix in the flour.  Knead the dough until all the flour is mixed in.

Roll dough into rectangle, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Place on a greased cookie sheet. In the middle of the dough, place your filling in a long, thin line. Make sure to leave about 1 1/2 inches on each side.  Then cut 1 inch apart slits in the dough.  Starting at the ends, fold pieces over filling and allow them to criss-cross in the middle.  Pinch and fold the ends.  Cover and let rise for about 30-40 minutes.

Place braid into pre-heated 350 degree oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes.  And, enjoy!


Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Blueberry Bread

December 7, 2009

I love books.  I always have.  My mom is a librarian, so I think it’s in my DNA.  My dad read to us every night when we were little, before we went to sleep.  When I was sick he would read to me, and three years ago I went home to have my tonsils removed and he read me one of our favorites: To Kill a Mockingbird. But one of my all-time favorite books is Blueberries for Sal.  Have you read this?  You must. Seriously. Go and order it right now.  I love the mischievous and hungry Sal, and I love that kids can make friends with anyone. And I love the memories that it has. And because of all these things, I love blueberries.

Blueberry and Sweet Potato an unlikely combo?  No way. It’s delicious.  I adapted this recipe and it is the moistest (is that a word?) bread I have ever, ever had. Seriously.  It crumbles as you cut and then melts in your mouth.  All you need is a few cups of flour, sugar, maple syrup, and a can of butternut squash {ok probably more, just see below. I can’t remember.}
And grab some blueberries.  If you are really fancy then you can make a blueberry sauce. It’s easy.  A little blueberries, a little flour, a little sugar, and heat and bam you are done.  But if you are like me, you’ll buy Blueberry Sauce that should be for ice cream sundaes at Trader Joes, and you will use that.

So I poured a lot of batter into the pan, and then I poured a layer of Blueberry Sauce right on top.  Then more batter.  See that small little line near the top?  It comes out swirly and adds a bit of color to the fall Monet of sweet potato, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Enjoy, and try to make it last more than a day.
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Blueberry Bread (adapted from Joy the Baker)

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup of packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
some cinnamon {I poured about 3 teaspoons}
some ground nutmeg {I poured about 2 teaspoons}
1 15 ounce can of Sweet Potato
1 cup of olive oil
1 or more teaspoons of maple syrup 
1/3 cup of water

Place all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and gently stir together.  Pour all other ingredients into medium bowl and stir carefully.  Add wet ingredients from the smaller bowl into the dry ingredients into the larger bowl.  Fold until batter is well combined.  Make sure to get all the flour off the of bottom of the bowl.  Grease two bread pans and pour batter equally into both pans.  Layer batter with blueberry sauce. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 1 hour.  Enjoy!

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies and Chai Frozen Yogurt

December 5, 2009

A one-pump chai, one-pump gingerbread soy latte makes me a happy camper.  My father-in-law is a Chai fanatic.  He also loves ice cream.  And, since both families are making the trek to come to sunny so-cal this Christmas, I decided I needed to make a good Chai ice cream recipe so he could have it when they got here.  My parents are coming from Colorado and my husband’s parents are coming from Idaho.  Both families are leaving snow, fireplaces and skiing to meet sand, 60 degrees, and surfing.  The least we can do is offer them a cold treat and pretend that it’s winter.

I was going to go chocolate chip cookies because, well they are classic and I never make them.  But then my friend Julia suggested butterscotch and I was so excited.  Sometimes I forget butterscotch exists, and I am so glad that Julia is smarter than me because they were perfect with the Chai spices.

And the Chai. The only thing you have to think about here is make sure that the Chai you get is not already sweetened. This recipe used unsweetened Chai powder and then sweetened it until it tasted just right.  No joke.  You by-the-book people are going to hate this recipe cause it’s also of guessing and doing what tastes the best. But that is what baking is all about, so have fun with this one and think of other teas or drinks that would make a great ice cream.  Mint Hot Coco? Mexican Hot Coco?  Early Gray?  If you can drink it, then why not freeze it and eat it?

Chai Ice Cream

2 cups non-fat yogurt
1 cup milk {I used almond milk}
1/2 cup cream
4 oz organic cream cheese or to taste
4 heaping scoops unsweetened Chai mix
about 1/4 cup brown sugar or to taste

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until mixed well and smooth. Your tastebuds will be your best friend in this one.  Taste well.  Add Chai and sugar slowly and easily.  Above is what we lied but maybe you like it a bit spicier, or sweeter.  You choose! Place all ingredients into ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions.  Freeze immediately or enjoy immediately.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

I can’t lie to you hear.  I bought the package and followed the recipe as it says on the back.  Oh yeah, I added a cup of quick-cooking Oatmeal.  Here is the recipe as well.

Hello world!

December 3, 2009

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls

December 2, 2009

We had a finance meeting this weekend, my husband and I.  Do normal people do that?  They must.  Well, must to my surprise (not at all) we were way over on groceries every month.  I usually purchase all the groceries because like every other food lover, the grocery store can make you feel organize, relaxed, and creative all in one trip.  So, oops, at times I let my creative juices flow (no pun intended) and I get a bit carried away, and then just like that we are over budget.  Time to scale back.  What does that mean?  Stop baking?  No way! Start making boxed mac and cheese?  I don’t think so.  It means staring at your fridge until you see one or two ingredients that you don’t want to go bad and so you make something out of it.  Enter cranberries.  Exit delicious Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls.

These are whole wheat, not tons of sugar, and seriously look at that red.  Perfect for the holidays.

They are pretty easy too.  The sauce is not hard, and you get to hear the cranberries “pop.”  My mom says that this reminds her of her mom and when she was little she would wait to hear the cranberries pop. I digress. After you make the dough and let it rise, you spread the cranberry sauce on it like so, and then roll it up.

Let the rolls rise again, put ’em in the over and done! The oranges?  Oh yes, I added a bit of orange juice to the cream cheese frosting.  I have no pictures of that frosting though, because I will tell you that these were so good that a bit of honey and butter will do the trick.  But also, we had oranges lying around and since I’m all about staying on budget, Ill throw whatever I can into a recipe.

Do you have any other saving money tricks or random thrown together recipes?  Please share. As this is a new stage and I need all the help I can get.

Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour {I used Whole Wheat}
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Mix 2 cups of flour and yeast, set aside.  In a sauce pan, heat and stir milk, granulated sugar, 1/3 cup butter, and the salt until just warm and butter almost melts.  Add to flour mixture along with the 2 eggs.  Beat on low for 30 seconds and then on high for 3 minutes.  Scrape the sides of the bowl frequently.  Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Place dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead in any remaining flour.  The dough should be moderately soft, and sort of elastic.  Shape dough into a ball, and place into a buttered bowl.  Turn dough over in bowl so the entire dough is touched with butter.  Cover and place in a warm place until dough is doubled in size. This will take about 1 hour, maybe 1.5 hours.

Once dough is double in size, punch the dough down and place on to a lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in half, cover and let rise for 10 minutes. Use this ten minutes to make your filling. (See below)

After ten minutes, roll each dough half into a 12×8 rectangle. {I just got it as close to a rectangle as possible. It took me some time}  Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving 1 inch along the sides of the dough.  Tightly roll up each rectangle long ways.  Once the dough is rolled up, pinch the ends, and cut into 12 equal pieces, or however big you want your rolls to be.  Place into greased  two 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 pans, cover, and let the dough rise another 30 minutes or until it is doubled in size.

Place in preheated 375 degree oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Watch the tops for a golden brown color to test if they are cooked all the way.  Let cool for five minutes, put some butter and honey on top, and enjoy!

Cranberry Filling

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups cranberries
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Heat and stir water and sugar into a medium saucepan until sugar dissolves.  Boil rapidly for 5 minutes.  Add cranberries and allow water to return to boiling, then reduce the heat.  Boil gently for about 3-4 minutes until cranberries “pop”. {I love this part!} Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat. Done and done.

Beef Bourguignon with Rosemary Butter Rolls

December 1, 2009

I made this for dinner partly because I wanted to and partly because I wanted to make the now quintessential cooking blog dish that has become oh so popular since Julie & Julia.  It turned out delicious, and the best part is that I took a short cut and used my slow cooker.  Partly because I dont have a dutch oven and partly because  I am in grad school and sometimes you don’t have enough time.  But it was delicious, and our guests loved it.  So, mission accomplished.

The other thing I want to say is that these rolls were really good.  But, they do not look as delicious as they did when the Pioneer Woman made it.  And let me just say, we are only one and a half months into my bread journey, so please cut me some slack.

So this experience confirms three items that are on my Christmas list: (given in the order in which I would want them, of course) Pioneer Woman Cooks, Iron Skillet, and Dutch Oven.  Yes, those are links.  Is that too presumptuous?  Maybe.  Sorry.

Beef Bourguignon

1 lb boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 1/2 cupos chopped onion (3 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir or Burdundy wine
3/4 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
3/4 teaspoon dired marjoram, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
3 cups whole fresh mushrooms
2 cups 3/4-inch pieces carrot (4 medium)
1 cup pearl onions, peeled, or frozen small whole onions
2 tablespoons buter or margarine, softened
2 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled
3 cups hot cooked noodles or 1 recipe Mashed Potatoes
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

Brown meat, chopped onion, and garlic in hot oil. In a 3 1/2-or 4-quart slow cooker layer mushrooms, carrot and pearl onions.  Omit flour and butter or margarine.  Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca.  Place meat mixture on top of vegetables.  Add thyme, marjoram, salt, pepper, and bay leaves.  Decrease wine to 1 1/4 cups and beef broth to 1/2 cup; pour over meat.  Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaves. Stir in bacon.

Buttered Rosemary Rolls.  Trust me, Pioneer Woman knows her stuff.

You Voted and I Got Into the Kitchen

November 25, 2009

I had a little vote going on the blog, and I was thrilled that you all voted.  It’s still up on the right hand side if you want to check out the results.  Basically, I had a friend Kyle who requested Banana Dark Chocolate Ice Cream and you all chose the mix in.  As you can see, the votes were tied between carmel and nuts.  I was shocked by this.  I wanted to add sprinkles, but I am glad I went with you all.  Smart ones you are. It was so good.

I decided to make Roasted Banana Ice Cream out of David Lebovitz’s book, The Perfect Scoop.  It’s also on my Christmas list if you were wondering.  So of course, you will need bananas, ripe ones.  This was hard for me, letting them sit and become ripe.  I really, really dislike ripe bananas.  Green ones, a bit chalky, that is my favorite.  

And your choice, a little carmel sauce.  This was gooey, very gooey.

But seriously, what caramel is not gooey?

And you will need some dark chocolate.  This one is 73%.  I was a little nervous about this addition because dark chocolate can be bitter.  But it turned out great, and any other kind would have been a bit too much sweet.

Ok. Confession time.  1.) I do not have a photo of any ice cream for you because every last bite was eaten the night I served it.  All that was left was little measly bit, and it took a bit of hiding to keep this in tact.  I’m sorry.  2.) You might be wondering where the nuts are.  I cheated.  After I tasted this delicious ice cream I could not think of it having nuts in it.  So, I served it with my Brown Sugar Pound Cake.  See?  It’s not all the way cheating, just placing the nuts elsewhere.  Don’t be mad.  Vote again.  My creativity got the best of me.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  You are great.  So anyway, enjoy the creation that you helped make.  It’s delicious, and believe me this: the cake adds a whole other dimension.  

Roasted Banana Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chunks and Caramel Swirl
(Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop)

3 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 400. Slice the bananas into 1/2-inch pieces and toss them with the brown sugar and butter in a 2-quart baking dish.  Bake for 40 minutes, sitrring just once during baking, until the bannanas are browned and cooked through.

Scrape the bananas and the thick syrup in the baking dish into a blender or food processor.  Add the milk, granulated sugar,vanilla, lemon juice, and salt, and puree until smooth.

Chill the mixture throughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  If the chilled mixture is too thick to pur into your machine, whisking it with thin it out.  During the last 5 minutes of mixing, add the dark chocolate chunks that have been cut to your ideal size.  

When freezing process is completed, transfer ice cream to air tight container.  Place ice cream in thirds, adding a layer of caramel between each layer of ice cream.