Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Whisking Wednesdays #15


Welcome to Whisking Wednesdays! 

Another week gone by so fast.  Seems like Summer is starting to wind down and for most with school aged children the Summer is over.  I'm hoping for plenty more sunshine and warm weather here in Japan though I have to say the Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year.  I love that the holidays are approaching and the wonderful weather the Fall brings with it.  Plus, no better time to start with tons of pumpkin recipes than the Fall along with lots of soups and stews, this is going to be a fun Fall! 

Thank you all who participated in this week's Whisking Wednesdays and hope to see you back again this week!

Wow, these Chocolate Pralines look divine!  They look so fancy and hard to make!  I loved reading about her learning to temper chocolate as this is a task that I'm quite unsure of myself and loved hearing about her adventure with this!


Now these cake pops are just adorable!  I'm actually thinking of orderering a candy mold from somewhere online just to make these!  My daughter saw them and started begging me to make them!  I think they are just so neat!

Something Swanky 
Cake Pops 


I love dairy free desserts that look like you aren't missing out on anything.  This ice cream looks awesome.  I'm actually allergic to dairy (beyond just lactose intolerance) which many people don't know and would never guess.  My biggest problem is without dairy I feel like I'm missing out on so much!  These ice cream looks like the real thing and looks so unbelievably chocolatey!  I can't wait to give this recipe a try! 




The Rules:
  1. Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your recipe.
  2. Please leave a link back to this post in your post or Grab My Button.
  3. Share your delicious recipes from this week. You are welcome to link up multiple recipes.
  4. Leave me a comment and let me know that you've linked up.
  5. Please visit at least two others and comment on the goodies they've added to this party.
  6. Also, I would love for you to follow me but it isn't a requirement.  
This weeks theme is going to be just your favorite recipe you've made from the week.  Whether it is a dessert, breakfast, dinner or snack.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Butterscoth Marshmallow Pudding Cookies

I don't know how I haven't heard of a pudding cookie before this week but I haven't.  When I saw these on Chef in Training I just knew I needed to try them.  These cookies were awesome.  I'm really into butterscotch right now and have been adding it into everything.  I really liked how the tops of the marshmallows in this started to brown like a s'mores.   These were really good.  We are undecided in my house though if these are better than my normal chocolate chip cookies or not.  They are both awesome and I think I'll have to make another batch to help me decide!

Butterscotch Marshmallow Pudding Cookies

3/4 c. shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package instant chocolate pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt 
6 oz. butterscotch chips
1 c. mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Stir together flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.
In a large bowl cream shortening and sugars together. Add in pudding package and beat until well blended. Then add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Cookies getting the "thumbs up"!
Slowly add flour mixture until combined.  Roll into 1" balls and place on greased baking sheet.  Bake for 8-12 minutes.

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At Home With Haley

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bacon & Feta Bread

I made a bacon and blue cheese bread recently that was alright but I wasn't as impressed with it as I wanted to be.  So I decided to explore more of this bacon and cheese bread concept.  The first time I made it I used regular bacon and I felt it got a bit lost in the bread.  The thick cut definitely held its own in the second loaf.  This original recipe was for a spinach and feta bread but I don't have any spinach on hand today so went for bacon instead.  Maybe not the healthiest swap but hey, bacon makes everything better!  It is like Paula Deen adds a stick of butter to everything, well I add bacon (or bacon grease) to everything!  Plus, feta is one of my favorite cheeses so I really liked the idea of using it.  Out of every bread I've ever made the ones that require a sponge the night before have the best, most amazing flavor to it so that alone drew me into this recipe.  I would actually really like to try it with spinach the next time I have spinach on hand.  This recipe was adapted from Cooking Bread.  I really, really enjoyed this bread.  So did my husband.  He ate it when he got home from work with a bit of butter, then made himself a left over burger and used it as the bun, then we made bacon, egg & cheese sandwiches on it toasted the next morning for breakfast. I was really pleased with this bread and it was pretty simple to make, even though you have to start the day before.  We will definitely be having this one again.   


3/4 cup bread flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast


1 cup chopped bacon (thick cut)
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 lukewarm water
1/4 c. bacon grease
3 1/4 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich the next morning.
The night before you want to make this bread, combine the sponge ingredients together and mix well until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 12 -16 hours. Cook your bacon and crumble it and set aside.  The next day in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook add the water, yeast and sugar and allow to sit for about 10 minutes until foamy.  Add in the sponge, the remaining flour (1 cup at a time), salt , bacon grease and Italian seasoning and mix on low speed until a dough ball forms and then turn to medium and allow to knead for another minute or two until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides.  Add a bit more flour if you need to 1 tbsp. at a time.  Pour out onto a floured surface and add the crumbled bacon and feta and start to knead the dough.  As you knead it the cheese and bacon will distribute throughout.  Add more flour if necessary to make dough nice and elastic without being too sticky.  Knead roughly 5 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl and cover and allow to rise for about 2 hours, until doubled in size.  Punch down and all to rise another 1 hour.  Pour onto floured surface and add flour to the top as you shape into a loaf.  You will want to place your loaf on parchment paper at this time to easily get it in and out of the oven.  You can free form a loaf shape, use a loaf pan or leave it in a circular (peasant loaf) type of shape, whatever you prefer.  Cover loosely and allow to rise another 30 minutes.  Meanwhile preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone in the oven.  Use a knife and score the top of the bread.  Then right before placing in oven, lightly mist the top of the bread with water.  Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly.  (Great leftover the next day too!)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Banana Crunch Muffins

This isn't the first time I've made this recipe.  The first time I made it the muffins turned out awesome.  But I didn't have time to do pictures and quickly snapped a few and they turned out terrible. The pictures were so bad I didn't even post this recipe!  So I have some over ripe bananas on my counter that I quickly have to snatch up to use because bananas go quick in this house.  So quick in fact that it is difficult to make banana bread or banana muffins because everyone is always stealing all the bananas.  I guess I should be grateful they all love bananas so much, right!?  These muffins are amazing.  This is an Ina Garten recipe that I saw on Food Network a while ago.  I absolutely love the crunch of the granola and the texture the coconut gives them.  Plus, I love pecans so being able to use them in anything makes me happy.  Of course, no one in my house likes coconut, granola or pecans but me, so looks like I now have a dozen muffins all for myself.   


 Banana Crunch Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1/2 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1/2 cup small-diced pecans
1/2 cup granola
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Granola or shredded coconut, optional for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin cups with paper liners.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.  Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with granola or coconut, if desired. Bake for 18-22, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.

Whisking Wednesdays #14


Welcome to Whisking Wednesdays! 

Seems I'm back on tracking getting this link-up done in a timely fashion and think I'll even manage the time to thank everyone properly for their link-ups!  So many of the link-ups this week made me want to get in the kitchen and try something new.  My list of items to bake seems to be growing rapidly!

Thank you all who participated in this week's Whisking Whednesdays.  There were so many tasty link-ups I had trouble deciding on just three!  I think I'm going to be quite busy in the next few weeks trying to make some of these!
The Rules:
  1. Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your recipe.
  2. Please leave a link back to this post in your post or Grab My Button.
  3. Share your delicious recipes from this week. You are welcome to link up multiple recipes.
  4. Leave me a comment and let me know that you've linked up.
  5. Please visit at least two others and comment on the goodies they've added to this party.
  6. Also, I would love for you to follow me but it isn't a requirement.  
This weeks theme is going to be just your favorite recipe you've made from the week.  Whether it is a dessert, breakfast, dinner or snack.  

Ok, the second I saw these S'mores Truffles I rushed right out to buy a few items to make these.  They looked so perfect and delicious.  I didn't have the stuff to make the filling like this recipe so I'm going to re-make these this week.  Even though my filling was different than her recipe they were still AMAZING!  These truffles definitely won't disappoint!


What drew me into this recipe is the picture.  The colors are beautiful and it looks just so sinfully perfect.  I've actually never tried black currants before but this definitely made me want to find some! 


I'd have to say one of my favorites fruits is peaches.  I'm from the South and grew up eating fresh peaches all the time.  Just the sound of peaches and cream on or with anything makes my mouth water.  Not to mention a homemade waffle, yum!



Monday, August 22, 2011

S'mores Truffle Squares

 So the second I saw this I knew I had to make it.  I saw this recipe on Cake Dish.  Sometimes a recipe just pulls you in like that.  Especially with sweets!  I was so excited to make this that I didn't read the recipe through and ran to the store to pick up marshmallow fluff not realizing I needed heavy cream and powdered sugar too.  So, my recipe ended up just having marshmallow in the middle and apparently not very much of it.  I tried to make up for the lack of marshmallow filling by drizzling some on top.  You can taste it but I would have liked to have more in the middle.  I love this truffle, it really tastes awesome.  I loved the crunch that the graham cracker gave it.  I was worried it would go soggy and not hold up completely but it did. Next time I make these, and yes there will be a next time, I plan on trying the fluff, powdered sugar, cream, vanilla mixture to use for the filling to see how those ones turn out.  

S'mores Truffle Squares 

3 King size Hershey's bars
A packet of honey graham crackers
1/2 c. marshmallow fluff

Cut the graham crackers and Hershey bars into same size pieces.  I did small squares that were bite size.  The crumbs leftover from the graham crackers can be used to sprinkle on as the topping later.  To assemble spread marshamallow fluff on graham cracker, top with a piece of chocolate.  Place these in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime add all remaining Hershey's bars into a double boiler and melt and the dip cold truffles.  Place them on wax paper to harden and top with crushed graham crackers.  Allow the truffles to harden in the refrigerator for about an hour.  I only made about a dozen of these.  I used one king size bar for the truffles and the remaining 2 bars for melting.  Once cooled I also drizzled marshmallow fluff over the top of the truffles since I didn't initially add enough marshmallow in the middle.   

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bacon Infused Mayonaisse

So I don't do this often but my husband is in heaven when I actually make homemade mayonnaise.  I don't eat or like mayonnaise so this isn't usually high on my list of priorities when making things.  Plus, I find it slightly aggravating having to drip one drop of oil at a time into a food processor.  I like things that I can do quickly and one handed with kids running around, screaming, pulling at my legs, yelling "Uppppppp" and things of that nature.  So having my 1 year old pulling at my leg yelling he wants "Uppppp" while I'm using a liquid measuring cup trying to drop one single drop at a time for a full cup of oil isn't easy.  Not only is it not easy, it takes SOOOO long!  Of course, the look on my husband's face when he takes a bite of a sandwich and realizes the mayonnaise was homemade is worth it, well almost. My little secret trick with this is I used 1/4 c. of bacon grease and 3/4 c. of oil.  It gives it a slight bacon taste to it which I'm told is amazing.       

Bacon Infused Mayonnaise

2 room temp. egg yolks
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 pinches of sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. bacon grease (still warm not solidified)

Add yolks, salt, mustard, sugar, lemon juice and white wine vinegar to food processor.  Combine the bacon grease and vegetable oil.  Add the oil one droplet at a time for about the first ½ c. then add at a slow (SLOW!) stream until thick and creamy.  This must be done very slowly or it won't turn out.  This will keep in fridge for up to 4 days. 

Hamburger Buns

So I'm on a quest to find the perfect recipe for homemade hamburger buns.  The ones at our store here on base really aren't good and we have limited options.  Of course, I don't have the time to make homemade ones every time I make burgers but I like to take something simple like a burger and make it extra special by making homemade buns and homemade mayonnaise to go with it.   This bun was tasty, and I certainly wouldn't complain being served it but it wasn't the "perfect" bun I'm looking for.  I really enjoyed it and the dough was so silky and smooth it was really nice to work with.  I used a recipe from but adapted it to my own liking by modifying the amounts of butter, sugar, yeast and salt.  I felt when I made my first batch I could taste the sugar too much and not enough of the salt so I reduced the sugar amount and upped the salt a bit and found the next batch turned out much better. 

Hamburger Buns

1 1/4 c. whole milk
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp. butter + 3 tbsp. melted butter
1/8 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 3/4 c. bread flour
2 tsp. yeast

Place milk and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until butter is melted and milk is lukewarm.  You can turn off the heat and allow to set aside until roughly 110 degrees.  Then add the yeast and 1 tbsp. of the sugar to the milk mixture.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes until bubbly.  In the meantime add the remaining sugar, salt and bread flour to a standing mixer fitted with dough hook.  Pour in the milk mixture and beaten egg and allow to knead on low for a few minutes until rough ball forms.  Turn to medium and allow mixer to knead dough for another few minutes.  Turn out on floured surface and knead by hand until silky, smooth and then form a ball.  Place in greased glass bowl (making sure to place upside down to get the top oiled then flipping it) and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.  Pour out onto floured surface and flatten to a rectangle using a rolling pin if necessary.  Use an upside circular cup or circle cutter to cut about 10-12 buns out.  You'll want each of them to be about 2 inches thick.  Place buns on greased cookie sheet using 3 tbsp. of the melted butter to brush on top.  You can add sesame seeds now if you wish, or you can brush once they come out of the oven with butter and add them then as well.  Allow to rise another 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake approximately 12-15 minutes or until light and golden.  Allow to cool and then slice in half to use as a bun. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ranch Chex Mix

As long as I can remember my Mom, Dad and sister have made Chex mix for the holidays.  I absolutely love it.  Usually I put oyster crackers in this recipe but I can't seem to find them here in Japan so we had to go without but I did include them in the recipe below since they do normally include them.  Also the original recipe is throwing everything into a big brown paper bag and shaking it every 15 minutes or so for 2 hours but I can't find brown bags here in Japan either, so I had to bake mine.  I actually think the baking it may make it quicker and easier though we normally don't do it that way.  This is such a quick easy snack to throw out for everyone anytime.  My husband and my kids both love it.   This is something we love to have around while drinking beer and watching football!

Ranch Chex Mix

4 c. Corn Chex
4 c. Rice Chex
2 c. pretzel sticks
4 c. Oyster Crackers
1 package of dry powder Ranch Dressing mix
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. dill

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Add chex, pretzels and crackers to a large bowl.  Pour the oil over the mix and toss until everything is completely coated in the oil.  Sprinkle over the powder Ranch and dill while stirring and then continue to toss to make sure to evenly spread the seasonings over all pieces.  Bake 15 minutes.  Allow to cool for about another 10 minutes before serving. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chocolate Crunch Cookie Bars

Not sure why but it seems the most made dessert in my house is always cookies.  I always have the ingredients for cookies on hand at all times in my house.  Plus, my daughter seems to always be able to convince me to make them.  I love to bake so simply asking me is enough to get me in the kitchen.  Except today she decided I was her helper.  She did all the measuring and egg cracking.  She was very excited when I handed her the bag of chocolate and butterscotch chips and told her it was up to her how much she put into the cookies.  Of course, both bags went in!  I decided to make these into bars instead of cookies just because that was what I was in the mood to do.  I love this recipe and love the flavor of chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch combined with the crunch of the oats and corn flakes.  I actually have a mixer but I find it is much more kid friendly for me and my daughter to make things like cookies and mix them by hand.  That way she gets to stir and add things without the mixer taking all the fun and doing all the work.  I wear an apron in the kitchen so she had me buy her one so she could wear one too!  She tells me that when she is a mama one day that she can make cookies in the kitchen without any help at all.   

Chocolate Crunch Cookie Bars

1 c. shortening
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. crushed corn flakes
1 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
3 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. dark chocolate chips 
1 pkg. butterscotch chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, sugar and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer till creamy. Beat in eggs, vegetable oil, & vanilla till smooth. Stir in cereal & oats. Combine the flour, baking soda & salt then gradually add it to the mixture. Beat till combined and stir in the chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whisking Wednesdays #13


Welcome to Whisking Wednesdays! 

Ok, so I totally abandoned my Whisking Wednesdays for a few weeks now.  I'm not even going to lie, there wasn't a good reason for it.  I've just been enjoying the summer and time with my kids with lots of pool time and beach time.  I felt like I should wait until I could actually participate in my own blog and thank every single person that posted properly before starting this again.  I think I finally have some time now.  So, first sorry for the delay and thank you for all your awesome recipe link-ups!   

The Rules:
  1. Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your recipe.
  2. Please leave a link back to this post in your post or Grab My Button.
  3. Share your delicious recipes from this week. You are welcome to link up multiple recipes.
  4. Leave me a comment and let me know that you've linked up.
  5. Please visit at least two others and comment on the goodies they've added to this party.
  6. Also, I would love for you to follow me but it isn't a requirement.  
This weeks theme is going to be just your favorite recipe you've made from the week.  Whether it is a dessert, breakfast, dinner or snack.  



      Monday, August 15, 2011

      Red Velvet Cupcakes

      I'm not sure if I love cupcakes or frosting more.  I think maybe the cream cheese frosting but you can't just eat that by itself, you gotta make the cake too, right?  Anyways,  I went to a birthday party over the weekend and there were red velvet cupcakes there.  My daughter loves cupcakes, what kid doesn't.  As soon as we got home she started asking when we could make cupcakes.  So the next day I went out and grabbed a few ingredients and we got to work.  She had so much fun filling the pastry bag with frosting and frosting her own cupcakes.  It was hard to convince her of why she could only eat one cupcake.  You would think a little 4 year old girl couldn't eat more than one in a day but I tell you what, I bet she could eat an entire dozen if I let her!  She was so impressed with her frosting abilities that when I started taking pictures for my blog she asked if she could take pictures of her cupcakes and put them on my blog too.  How can I deny such a request?  So below is not only a picture of the two cupcakes she frosted, but she also took the picture herself just for my blog.   

       Red Velvet Cupcakes

      1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
      1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
      1 1/4 teaspoons salt
      1 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
      1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
      1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
      1 1/4 cups buttermilk
      3 eggs
      2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
      1 1/4 teaspoons white vinegar
      1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
      1/8 cup water
      Cream Cheese Frosting * recipe below
      The cupcakes my daughter frosted herself.
      Preheat oven 350 degrees F.  Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.  In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.   

      Cream Cheese Frosting:

      2 sticks melted butter
      6 c. powdered sugar
      8 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
      1 tsp. vanilla extract

      Melt butter and add to a mixer with paddle attachment with room temperature cream cheese and mix to combine.  Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar.  If too thick add a splash of milk, if too thin add more powdered sugar.  Mix until well combined and lump free.  

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      Sugar and Dots
      Sweet as Sugar Cookies 

      Chocolate Butterscotch Rice Krispies Cookies

      I had a box of Rice Krispies in my pantry that no one was eating and wanted to get rid of it.  I figured I'd take out a bunch of my baking things that were half full or a quarter full and throw them all into a cookie.  It wasn't long ago I made a cookie recipe with Corn Flakes that turned out AMAZING, so I figured I'd give this one a shot.  It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't make it again.  I personally thought the cornflake cookie recipe I have is vastly superior.  I did really like the addition of butterscotch to this cookie though and am thinking next time I make my Cornflake cookie recipe I will now have to add butterscotch in.  Of course, a cookie filled with Rice Krispies, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips certainly can't be bad!

      1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/2 cup shortening or butter
      3/4 c. white sugar 
      1/3 c. brown sugar

      1 egg
      1 teaspoon vanilla
      1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
      4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
      4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
      4 oz. butterscotch chocolate chips 

      Preheat oven to 350.  Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl until lump free and combined.  In a mixer add the white and brown sugar and shortening and mix until combined, light in color and creamy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the Rice Krispies and chocolate and butterscotch chips.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. 

      Sunday, August 7, 2011

      Texas Roadhouse Rolls w/ Honey Butter

       My daughter woke up this morning and asked me if we could make rolls today.  Sure, why not!  No reason is ever really needed to get in the kitchen and get my hands in some dough.  Plus, I love that my daughter knows we make that kind of thing from home and it isn't something we buy from a store or only get at a restaurant.  I originally saw this recipe on Chef in Training a while ago and them my sister sent me an email from a different blog she saw with Texas Roadhouse Rolls and mentioned how good they looked so I decided it was time to give these a try.  Both my children helped me make these so we didn't have little rolls but big giant rolls as they were in charge of rolling the dough into balls.  My son just tried to squish dough everywhere and eat flour off the wooden spoon while my daughter actually helped me roll the dough.  There are few things in life that bring me more joy than baking with my children.      

      Texas Roadhouse Sweet Rolls
      1 pkg. active dry yeast
      1/2 cup warm water
      2 cups milk
      1/2 cup sugar
      6-8 cups flour
      2 Tbsp. melted butter
      2 whole eggs
      2 tsp salt

      Honey Butter

      1 stick room temperature butter (1/2 cup)
      1/4 c. powdered sugar
      1/4 c. honey

      Activate yeast in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar. While yeast is activating, scald milk and cool to lukewarm. Once yeast has doubled in volume, add yeast, sugar, and milk to a large bowl and add 3 cups of the flour which will give you a pancake batter consistency, or maybe slightly thicker.  Beat thoroughly.  Let stand alone until light and fluffy, roughly 20 minutes. Add melted butter (which has been cooled), eggs, and salt.  Beat well.  Add 3-4 cups of flour, one cup at a time to form soft dough ball.  If ball is too sticky add the fourth cup of flour, if it isn't don't.  Add plenty of flour on the counter top for kneading the dough as well.  Sprinkle small amount of flour on counter and set down on it to rest.  Meanwhile, grease a large glass bowl with butter, set aside. Knead dough until smooth and satiny. Cover and let rise in a warm area until double in size.  Once double in size punch down.  Turn out on floured board.  Divide into individual rolls.   Place on greased baking sheets and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes for small rolls and 15-20 minutes for larger rolls.  Makes 8-10 large rolls or 13-16 small rolls.
      Honey Butter

      1/2 cup butter, room temperature
      1/4 cup powdered sugar
      1/4 cup honey

      Allow butter to come to room temperature.  Place in a bowl and add in powdered sugar and honey and whip to combine.  Let set at room temperature until ready to use.  

      Friday, August 5, 2011

      Chicken & Dumplin's

       One of my favorite southern dishes is definitely Chicken and Dumplings.  I grew up in South Carolina going to Cracker Barrell always, always, always getting Chicken and Dumplings with a double side of fried okra and biscuits.  When I moved away from the South I had to learn to make this dish myself so I didn't long for it for the rest of my life!  This recipe is incredible!  I absolutely love it.  It is really a super easy dish to make.  I always put the extra effort in to make the chicken stock from scratch but if you opt to use pre-made chicken stock instead you can whip up this dish in no time.  One of my little tricks to make my chicken stock extra rich and delicious is I throw in a chicken bullion cube in there with the water.  I love the results.  I actually add diced carrots to mine, though that isn't classically how it is made, I like the taste.  You can't see any carrots in the picture though as my entire family was begging to eat so I didn't have more than a minute or two to actually take a picture before everyone started eating all of the chicken and dumplings.  I tell you, this is one of those you gotta try it recipes!  You won't be disappointed.  I could eat this probably everyday for the rest of my life and die a happy happy woman.  
      Note - This recipe does call for buttermilk in the dumplings, which as I've mentioned in my "Almost Buttermilk Biscuits" recipe, I don't have access to in Japan.  So, I've used 3/4 c. milk and 1/3 c. plain whole milk yogurt combined to substitute for buttermilk. 
      Chicken and Dumplings

      Chicken Stock:
      1 (3 to 31/2 pound) whole chicken
      2 bay leaves
      6 sprigs thyme
      small handful of black peppercorns
      1 head garlic, split through the equator
      2 tablespoons salt
      3 rough chopped whole carrots
      2 rough chopped stalks celery
      1 chicken bullion cube
      8 c. Water  (roughly) 
      2 cups all-purpose flour
      1 tablespoon baking powder
      1 teaspoon salt
      2 eggs
      3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

      2 tablespoons butter
      2 tablespoons oil
      2 carrots, diced
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      2 bay leaves
      1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      6 cups chicken stock
      1/3 cup heavy cream
      Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish

      For the stock:

      Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven or large stock pot and cover with water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until the chicken is tender. Skim the surface of fat and scum as it cooks. When done remove the chicken to a cutting board. Strain the stock and shred the meat into big pieces - the stock will be used for the sauce and the chicken will be folded into it.
      To prepare sauce: In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition to prevent lumps.  Let sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.  (If your sauce isn't thick enough at this point you can always cheat a bit and add a bit of cream to some corn starch to thicken your sauce.)
      For the dumplings:
      Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, and buttermilk together; pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.
      Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring up to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping teaspoons of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but try not to completely crowd them. Let the dumplings poach for about 6 minutes then gently flip em' until they are firm and puffy. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.

      Almost Buttermilk Biscuits

      So I've come to realize and accept that I cannot get buttermilk here in Japan.  The commissary on base has it, but it is completely frozen and anyone that has ever taken a milk product and frozen, then defrosted it knows it is a weird consistency and just doesn't quite look right after that.  That fat separates.  So, it is with regret that I've decided to looking for buttermilk alternatives.  Oh, how I love buttermilk and need it so.   This is the first recipe I tried a yogurt replacement with.  It worked beautifully!  My husband couldn't tell a difference between these biscuits and the ones I use to make in the states for him.  So yeah for my new buttermilk replacement - milk and yogurt combined! That is why I called these "almost" buttermilk biscuits.  They lack that very key ingredient but certainly don't lack in flavor and you won't even realize it is missing. 

      Almost Buttermilk Biscuits:

      1 ½ tsp yeast
      ¼  c. warm water
      2 ½  c. all-purpose flour
      ½  tsp baking soda
      ½  tbsp baking powder
      ½  teaspoon salt
      1 tbsp. sugar
      ½ c. shortening
      1/2 stick cubed butter, cold 
      3/4 c. 2% or whole milk
      1/3 c. whole milk plain yogurt

      Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add yeast and 1 tsp. of sugar to warm water and allow to sit.  Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl. Cut in shortening and butter with a fork until it looks like coarse sand.  I just use my hands though.  Combine the yogurt and milk and whisk to combine.  It should be slightly thick, like the consistency of buttermilk.  This should equal about 1 c. once the milk and yogurt are combined.  But depending on your milk and the yogurt you use you might need to slightly adjust it to add a bit more milk or yogurt to get your desired consistency.   Add the yeast, water and the yogurt-milk mixture and mix until combined.  Again, I just use my hands as I find it is easier to get the feel for the dough that way.  Add more milk if necessary.  Pour dough onto a floured surface and bring together. (Use plenty of flour under and on top of dough) This dough is really really sticky  when removing from the bowl so you can be generous with your flour on the board and on top of the dough while kneading it.  Gently press the dough into a rectangle until it is between 1/2 and 3/4-inch thick. Use a round cutter that has been floured to cut the biscuits. Place on a baking sheet (or in a cast iron pan) so they are touching each other. Brush the top with melted butter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  I start to check on them around 15 minutes and give them a few minutes more if needed until they are slightly golden on top. This makes about 8-10 biscuits depending on the size you make.  Brush tops with butter once they come out of the oven. 

      Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

      My birthday was the 31st and I wasn't in the mood for just a regular cake.  I never make cheesecake because my husband doesn't care for it.  I figured the perfect time to make a dessert that I wanted was for my birthday and I didn't care if anyone else liked it.  This is actually my very first time making a cheesecake.  I love cheesecake, I just never make it because then I'd have an entire cheesecake that I'd have to eat all by myself.  So to keep my girlish figure, I say no to cheesecake.  But, not today!  This recipe was awesome.  It was super rich, a small slice was more than enough and went a long way.  It was creamy and delicious.  It is so unbelievably hot and humid here in Japan that the second I took it out of the fridge my ganache topping instantly started sweating so it was next to impossible to take a picture as it looked like my poor cheesecake had been rained on, so I had to just use the first one I took.  This cheesecake was totally worth making and I'd definitely eat it again.  My husband even really enjoyed it, though he didn't go back for seconds like he normally does.    


      Cooking spray, for greasing
      1 package chocolate stuffed oreos
      1/2 stick melted butter


      6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
      6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
      1 3/4 c. sugar
      1/3 c. cocoa powder
      4 (8-oz.) packages room temp. cream cheese
      4 eggs
      1/2 tbsp. prepared coffee (*optional)


      3/4 c. heavy cream
      6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
      2 tsp. honey
      1 tbsp. prepared coffee(*optional)

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch-diameter springform pan with cooking spray.
      For the crust: In a food processor, grind the cookies until finely ground. Add the melted butter and process until well blended; it should be the consistency of wet sand. Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake just until set, about 5-6 minutes. Allow it to cool while preparing the filling. 

      For the filling: Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until melted, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute until the chocolate is completely melted.  Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and the cocoa powder together, smoothing out any lumps of cocoa powder. In a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, and then add the sugar-cocoa powder mixture. Add the prepared coffee at this time, if using. Beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides and bottom with a rubber scraper when necessary.  Blend in the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in the lukewarm chocolate and stir until combined.  Pour the filling over the cooled crust, tap the pan on the table top to remove any air pockets, and then smooth the top to even out. Bake until the center is just set and looks just dry, about 1 hour, rotating halfway. Cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around sides of the cake to loosen, but do not remove from the springform pan. Chill the cake in the refrigerator overnight. 

      For the glaze: Stir the heavy cream, chopped chocolate, honey and prepared coffee in a heavy, medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over the center of the cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2-inch of the cheesecake's edge and filling any cracks. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour.  Transfer the cheesecake to a platter and release from the springform pan. Serve cold, or allow to come to room temperature, about 2 hou