Tag Archives: Bread

Cheddar Jalapeno Scones

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I’m going to start this off by saying I’ve never been a good bread baker.  I’m just too impatient, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before.

I have this huge prejudice against baking bread.  It recalls to me memories of flouring a surface, rolling out bread, and repeating.  A cycle that seemed to go on and on and on and on For Hours.  And then there is my lack of an upright mixer, and thus a bread hook, which most bread recipes call for.  I’m not a muscular person, I’ve felt tired after poking bread dough, and I can’t imagine trying to do the kneading by hand.  Shudder.

My sister in law though.  Man she can bake some bread.  She’s great at it; she really puts me to shame.  I spent a week at her house and we had fresh bread every day, which of course had nothing to do with how we would eat all of it by the end of the day.  And of course, like someone who’s just enjoying a good thing, I never thought to pay attention to her while she worked.  So, for now at least, her bread secrets are safe.

Until then, I’ve managed to find a bread that has limited kneading and no rolling out with flour.  And you mix it with your hands, so as a bonus, you get to play with your food and eat it too!  I’m thinking this is a win win.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

If you use salted butter, leave out the additional salt

1 cup Cheddar Cheese

2 green onions

2 tablespoons diced jalapenos, or other green chilies

You can also use 2 fresh jalapenos finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons minced garlic

Or 6 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped

1 egg

½ cup whipping cream

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Preheat the oven to 425OF

In a large bowl, and I mean one with tall sides because this is going to be messy, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Mix that once or twice, and then take the butter and cut it into the smallest pieces you can manage.  Mixing in the butter is the hardest part of this recipe.

You can either, take a knife in both hands and pretend you are an automaton by cutting the flour/butter mixture repeatedly.  The aim is to continuously cut the butter into smaller and smaller pieces, which is best achieved by just cutting the butter against the walls of the bowl.  Takes about 15 minutes.

Or you can get a hand mixer and make a mess by just beating it for the 15 minutes.  A small amount of flour will fly everywhere, but you don’t have to do the robot.

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Either way, the result is the same and it takes about the same amount of time.  Will look like ground graham crackers.

Yah, the hard part’s over!

Finely dice your green onions and add them and the remaining ingredients (the egg, cheese, green onions, jalapenos, garlic, and heavy cream).  Now put away your knives or your hand mixer, and mix this by hand.  Yes it will be sticky and slimy and flour will get under your nails, but isn’t it also fun!  And trust me; it’s easier than trying to mix it with the hand mixer or a spoon because, yes, I tried.

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By hand, it takes about 5 minutes to fully mix everything together and you should have a pretty sticky  dough that’s a lot more like chocolate chip cookie dough than bread dough.  I guess that’s the power of scones.

Pull off a section of the bread dough and roll it around in your palms until it makes a smooth ball, poking in any stray pieces of green onion or jalapeno.  You’re ball should be about the size of a ping pong ball, so add or subtract as necessary.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

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If you end up with the last ball being smaller than all the others, instead of trying to bake it too, pull it apart and add a little bit to all of the other balls.  Try to keep them all about the same size.

Take a baking sheet and line it with a piece of wax or parchment paper.  This is to prevent the scones from burning on the bottom before they cook completely.  Place your bread balls on the baking sheet so that they are evenly spaced and there is space between all of them.

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Using the palm of your hand, press down gently on each bread ball until they just spread out a little, but do not squash them.  If necessary, readjust the placement so there is still space between them.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Be careful with these, they burn pretty quickly.  As soon as they come out of the oven, pull the wax paper off of the baking sheet.  This will keep the scones from continuing to cook.

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Start to finish, takes about 30-45 minutes and is a great addition to any dinner.  They taste a little reminiscent of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits, and yes, unfortunately that means they’re not that good for you.  It’s okay, you bought that wii for a reason, or use milk instead of whipping cream for a significantly healthier but not as moist (and much more prone to burning) scone.

I served them drizzled with a little bit of oil instead of butter.  I hat to cut the calories down somewhere.

Enjoy!

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Wickled Cuban Sandwich

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As a poor graduate student, I don’t get eat out much, so one of the traditions my mom and I have is that once a week we go out to eat.  One of our favorite restaurants is actually Panera.  The first time I ever went to Panera, it was still the St Louis Bread Company, and my mom and I had made a trip to St Louis to see the Nutcracker.  No judging, I was young.

It was one of our favorite places to eat every time we went to St Louis for years, usually for breakfast, and I was thrilled when a Panera opened in our city.  We went there once a week for breakfast for several weeks before I got tired of it.  It was quite a while before we went to Panera for anything other than breakfast, but eventually, we did try some of their entrees.  My favorite, hands down, is the Cuban Sandwich.

I could almost have an affair with this sandwich, if one could have an affair with food.  While I know it’s no gourmet food, and I’m probably getting snickers from the audience in larger cities, I really do love this sandwich.   It’s one of the few things I can honestly say I could eat for more than three days in a row.  And believe me, that’s saying quite a bit.

Today the Wickles steal the show from the Cuban though.  This sandwich is all about the Wickles.  I’m not one to preferentially use one brand over another, but I have not as of yet found another brand of pickles that can quite replicate these for flavor.  They are like the Girl Scout cookies of pickles, one of a kind, but thankfully available all year round.  Substitute the Wickless at your own risk.

Enjoy

Ingredients

Focaccia Bread

2 chicken breasts

8 ham slices

WICKLES

8 slices Swiss cheese

½ cup Sun dried tomatoes

½ cup Southwest Spicy Mustard

¼ cup miracle whip

¼ cup sour cream

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground chipotle

Oil for frying

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(You can substitute Red Chili Powder if you don’t have ground chipotle but you will sacrifice flavor for heat.  You can also grind your own chipotle chilies, but be careful since the smoke can make your throat and eyes sting.)

As you can see from the picture, I didn’t use focaccia bread.  Really you can use any crusty bread for this dish, but it will change the taste of the final sandwich, and try not to use anything that is too puffy.

Trim off any fat that is on the chicken breast, and then cut it open, so it’s half as thick which will make it cook faster.  Lightly salt and pepper each side of the 4 pieces of chicken.

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Heat enough oil in a medium sized skillet to just cover the bottom of the pan over medium heat.  Place the chicken breast pieces in the skillet so that they don’t touch.  Cook, turning occasionally, until both sides are golden brown and can be easily pierced with a fork at its thickest part.  This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, drain the sun dried tomatoes and combine with the mustard s in a blender and puree.  You can substitute other mustards for the southwest, but you’ll probably need to add more mustard than tomatoes in order to balance the flavor.

In a bowl mix together the miracle whip, sour cream, oregano, and chipotle in a bowl.  If you don’t have powdered chipotle, you can substitute red pepper, but it will have a hotter taste without being as flavorful.

After the chicken is done, turn off the skillet and reserve the chicken to a plate and let it cool slightly.

To build the sandwich, cut your bread in half.  On one half spread liberally with the miracle whip mixture, and on the other half spread lightly with the mustard mixture.  Be carefully, the mustard mixture will pack a punch.

Pick one half of the bread, and build on that one, don’t try to build on both.  Stack:  Chicken (cutting to fit the bread), two slices of ham, Wickless to cover, and two slices of Swiss cheese, cover with other half of bread.Image

Heat a sandwich press and press the stacked sandwich between the two plates until the cheese melts.

If you do not have a sandwich press, you can improvise by re heating the skillet you cooked the chicken in and placing the stacked sandwich in the medium of the skillet with a weight on it, such as a bacon press or another skillet, to hold it down.  When you notice the cheese starting to melt, remove the weight, flip the sandwich, and replace the press.  Cook for an additional minute or two to brown both sides of bread and you’re done.

Recipe makes 4 sandwiches, though you’ll probably have a little of both the miracle whip and mustard mixture left over, and takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

Enjoy

Sweet and Sour Chicken

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I know I just made a post about how I generally avoid recipes that have a page worth of ingredients, but it doesn’t count if half the ingredients are things I keep in my house.  Right?  Yah, that sounds like an excuse to me too.

Anywho, I really like Asian food, I mean what’s not to like.  It’s hot, spicy (not always the same thing), it’s always served with either rice or noodles, and generally not the worst thing you could eat health wise.   But notice I do say generally.  This is because a lot of times really good Chinese food is fried.  I do so love my fried foods.

It’s a shame I don’t have the metabolism of a high schooler any more and can’t just eat fried foods all day.  Plus they tell me it’s bad for me, something about clogged arteries and heart attacks.  To bad.

I’ve wanted to try to make homemade Chinese takeout for awhile, but the way of getting crispy chicken without deep frying it was eluding me.  It all comes down to how you coat or bread the chicken.  I got this idea for coating the chicken from here http://stuffcynloves.com/2013/05/03/best-general-tao-chicken-recipe/.   It works really well as a pho-fried food breading.

Enjoy

Ingredients

1 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons flour

2 eggs

1 cup panko

Chicken thighs or breasts

4 Tablespoons peanut butter

6 tablespoons soy sauce

1 Green pepper (sorry forgot to include in the picture)

1 package mushrooms, about ½ pound

2 sticks celery

4 green onions

2 heads brocoli

1 can crushed pineapple

6 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Oil for frying

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If you’re working with chicken thighs, deskin and debone, and try to cut off any large chunks of fat.  For either chicken thighs or breasts, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces.

Set up a line of three bowls.  In the first bowl, pour 1 cup of cornstarch.   In the next bowl mix together the 2 eggs, salt, baking powder, and flour which will make a thick goo. In the last bowl pour the 1 cup of panko.  You can use breadcrumbs instead of panko, but the chicken won’t be quite as cruncy.

Dip each piece of chicken into first the cornstarch, then the egg mix, and finally the panko.  Try to shake off any extra cornstarch before coating your pieces with the egg mixture.

Put just enough oil in a deep skillet to cover the bottom and heat under medium to high heat.  After the oil is hot, put in the chicken pieces, evenly spaced and so they don’t quite touch.

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Cook until panko starts to brown and then turn and cook on the other side.  Make sure the chicken is cooked through and remove it from the pan, takes about 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking finely chop all your veggies and put in a big bowl, it’s a lot of veggies.

In a small mixing bowl add the peanut butter and 4 tablespoons of soy sauce.  Mix a little, until the peanut butter is not a blob in a sea of soy sauce but it’s not going to make a smooth mixture.  Pour the mixture onto the veggies and mix well.

Pour the veggie mix into the skillet and cook on medium to high heat stirring often until the veggies soften.  Takes about 10 minutes.

While cooking the veggies mix in a suacpan the pineapple, sugar, apple cider vinegar, remaining soy cauce, cornstarch, and garlic powder.  Mix in each ingredient one at a time beginning with the pineapple and mix well after every addition.  Cook under low heat until everything is well incorporated, you’re difficult ingredient here will be the cornstarch.  This really only takes 5 minutes or so.

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After the veggies are soft turn heat down to low and add back in the chicken.  Stir once or twice until the chicken is evenly mixed.  Add the pineapple sauce to the skillet and mix well.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so and you’re done.

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Serve with either rice or butter noodles.   If you’re a fan of broth with your rice, double the sauce mixture.

Really this is a pretty easy recipe, but it does take some time.  Around 45 minutes to an hour start to finish.

Enjoy.

Cheesy Salad Sandwich

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I’m personally a big fan of salad.  I feel that a lot of times salads get a bad name as being smothered in dressing, or having everything in them but the kitchen sink.  But they can’t be all bad.

My mom actually makes that second kind of salad and it’s amazing.  She makes the dressing from scratch and everything, but when I finally got her to give me the recipe for it, it seemed to be a mile long.  While I know that it would not be complicated to make, I generally balk at the idea of making something that has more than 20 ingredients.

I’m also not a huge fan of lettuce.  Since lettuce is the principle ingredient in most salads, and it has no taste, I suppose those other 19 ingredients are necessary to make the lettuce taste like something other than crisp green water.  And depending on how long your salad has been out of the refrigerator, you even loose the crisp.

So I’m going to say this is not so much of a recipe, as an idea, inspired by something similar I found in a cookbook.  Why not take the lettuce out of the salad?  And while I was at it I figured I could add some bread too.  Bread improves every meal, and I’m an even bigger fan of sandwiches than I am of salads.

Enjoy

Ingredients

1 tomato

½ cucumber

1 red or orange bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

2 sticks celery

2 green onions

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ cup Italian Salad Dressing

Shredded Swiss cheese

Bread

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Finely chop all the vegetables.   Mix well with the black pepper and Italian Salad Dressing.  I feel you could almost use any veggies you wanted in this, my only caution would be to try to keep it from getting too wet, as that will dilute the Italian Salad Dressing which is providing most of the seasoning.

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Just as you can use almost any veggies, you can use almost any bread.  If necessary, cut the bread in half.  On each half, or slice, sprinkle enough of the Swiss cheese to just cover the bread.  Cover the bread with a paper towel and microwave for 1 minute.  This will melt the cheese without drying it out or burning it.

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Spread about 1-2 tablespoons of the veggie mixture onto one half of the sandwich and place the other half on top.  Makes 4-8 sandwiches depending on the size of the sandwich.

Enjoy.