Sunday, March 19, 2017

Farmhouse Chicken Noodle Soup (Pressure Cooker Style)

First, let me explain that if you don't own a pressure cooker, you can still make this recipe in a regular old stock pot. Just increase the cooking time by four times! If you do own a pressure cooker, then this is THE chicken soup recipe for you! Pinkie promise!

Besides making this in a pressure cooker, with only 20 minutes of cooking time*, the chicken broth turns out to be super flavorful-- and there is an unexpected ingredient that helps to give that special "umami" that tickles the taste buds.

I did a little internet search for "Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup" and was surprised that many of the recipes list "chicken bouillon" or "chicken broth" as an ingredient.  That made no sense to me! 
I wanted to make chicken soup with....well, chicken!  I knew I wanted to add a mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery), herbs etc. and nothing else!  Then I remembered one of my most used books, "Pressure Cooker Perfection"  from America's Test Kitchen.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sprinkle Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Here comes my transparency, to my friends and readers: My birthday was last July. Okay,'s now March!  I made this cake for my own birthday, because it's become my own self-inflicted tradition to bake my own cake, because it's fun!  I kept meaning to post this recipe, but Pumpkin Season came around, then Peppermint Season...and so I decided to hold on with sharing this recipe until spring. So, without further it is!

Yes, I enjoy baking cakes, very much. I'm not adverse to cake mixes at all, though I get a personal satisfaction baking a bake from scratch. Canned frostings, however, will never find a home in my pantry. I think they taste awful, to be honest. I'm not a fan of the texture and artificial flavors-- especially when making homemade buttercream is so easy to do!

So, while July was many moons ago, I wanted to share this recipe with you, because this cake is worthy for any occasion. Change the sprinkle colors to spring pastels, and this would make an impressive cake on your Easter Table-- for any birthday...or "just because".

I believe that what made this particular cake so spectacular was the frosting.  Yes, I do believe that's so true! Have you never made a Swiss Meringue Buttercream?  No?  Well, hold on-- because I hope to convince you that this frosting will make you swear off any canned frosting forever-- and just might make a classic buttercream seem a bit underwhelming.

But, first, let's start with the cake recipe.  For the batter, we're using cake flour, instead of all-purpose flour.  Cake flour has a bit less gluten, you see, so this is better insurance for a tender cake (or crumb, as bakers like to call it).  There's also buttermilk in the batter, and I believe this adds a lovely, yet subtle, tang and moisture to the cake. Of course, there's butter in the batter, sprinkles  and whipped egg whites are gently folded in.

There we are!  Three 8"-round cake pans of cake that is ready to be cooled. So, it's time to make some Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  A stand mixer is the best way to do this. You could use a hand held mixer, but you might need a third hand.  This is buttercream, so there is an absurd amount of butter (like, um, like almost five sticks of butter).  Yes, queue the cholesterol police.  Keep in mind, this is for a special occasion, and if your guests love this cake as much as mine did-- there won't be much left over.  So...

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Pizza Wheels (Party Pizza Buns)

Yes, it's really me! I'm back, and this time, I hope to resume posting at least every Sunday. (This is my new mantra). Today, I made a decision that I must make time to post at least a dozen new recipes I've baked, braised, roasted or stewed so that I could share them with you!

Each weekend, I keep telling myself to allot the average of two hours to edit photos, write a printable recipe card and then write a blog post-- with that hope that I would entice my readers (or that people searching for a recipe like this one) will land on my blog.  But one week, turns into two...and then a month...and then two months... and, before I know it, I start receiving emails from food blogger friends or loyal readers asking if I'm okay and if I'll resume posting again.  The answer is "yes" and "thank you"!

So, let me begin by sharing these amazing King Arthur Flour Pizza Buns!  I love baking, and I especially love baking recipes with yeast.  I was just speaking to a young lady who aspires to learn new ways of cooking and baking. I told her that one of my favorite resources is "King Arthur Flour".  My pantry is loaded with so many of their ingredients, and I don't use any other brand of flours.  I subscribe to their blog and I love their monthly "Bakealong Challenge".  King Arthur Flour posts step-by-step instructions so that anyone-- beginner or advance-- should be able to successful replicate their recipes.

I honed in on this particular recipe, in January for two reasons. 1) It was Super Bowl weekend and 2) I had leftover pizza sauce, mozarella cheese and pepperoni.  What a perfect way to use up ingredients and feed my hungry men!

The dough is quite easy to make-- especially if you have a stand mixer (which I do, and wouldn't part with for anything in the world).

After a little over an hour, my dough was beautifully puffed up (aka "proofed") and I found the dough to be so easy to work with. I was able to shape and roll it into a 12"x18" rectangle.  I've brushed on the leftover pizza sauce...

...and now I'm going to add my filling.  This is where you can become as creative as you like. Homemade pizza is almost a weekly thing, in our home and I've posted several on my blog here

My current favorite pizza toppings are sausage, mushroom, sliced black olives, bell pepper and onion. But, today, I would make the favorite pizza of my men.  Here, I am rolling up the dough and filling into a tight log-- pinches the ends.  This reminds me of  the King Arthur Flour Cinnamon Roll recipes that has become a family favorite!

Using a very sharp kife, I made shallow knife cuts so I would be able to gauge slicing the log into 12 pieces. 

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Brie en Croute (Baked Brie in Puff Pastry)

It's Christmas Eve, when our family celebrates in true German tradition.  Last year, I made this appetizer, and it was gone in a flash.  Puff pastry is a product that can make some of the prettiest, and simplest, appetizers! Baked Brie is a tasty, and easy appetizer to make for your next holiday party.

All you need to do is buy a 13-16 ounce Brie round. The night before, thaw a sheet of puff pastry.
Preheat the oven to 400F.

Roll the puff pastry into a 14-inch square on a lightly floured surface.  I didn't photograph where I put a "schmear" of raspberry jam (apricot works well, too).  You can add about an ounce of sliced, toasted, almonds if you desire.  Then place the Brie on the center and fold the pastry up and over the cheese.  Flip it over onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Cut off any excess puff pastry. I used the extra puff pastry to cut out some leaf shapes with some small cutters that I have.

Beat one egg with water, and brush it all all over your Brie en Croute.

 There! Now pop it into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. 

Whoa! A lava flow of melted Brie and raspberry jam is starting to flow out from the sides!

As our guests starting digging in with a cracker and knife, the warm melted Brie kept oozing out.  This is perfect with a glass of cold Prosecco-- in my opinion.

If you've never made this easy appetizer, give it a try. This will be part of our New Year's Eve quiet evening at home, with family and a few friends.

Happy New Year!


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