I am a wife, a mom of three, and the kitchen is my favorite place in the house. I read cookbooks in my spare time and enjoy getting kitchen appliances for presents :) I love preparing delicious and healthy food for my family and here are a some of what graces our table each week.

Email Me for any of the recipes :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge - May 2009 - Apple Peach Strudel!

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).
3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Apple Peach Strudel
adapted from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) Smart Balance Light, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
2 pounds (900 g) combination of Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored) and peaches, all cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.
3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Mix the apples and peaches with the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip.
4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.
While we did have the freedom to choose our filling, once Danny heard the challenge was *apple* strudel, there was no going back. I added peaches for a bit of variety, but they werent the peachiest of peaches and couldn't really be detected. I got my dough to pretty much the size they were looking for, but wasn't really sure if I did the fruit correctly. The big holes ended up on top of the strudel, so we (Danny helped with assembly) flipped it over and it worked out perfectly. Now that I know that the hardest part of the recipe is waiting for the strudel to cool before eating, I can't wait to make another one with lots of different fillings, both savory and sweet. Speaking of sweet, I am not sure if this was supposed to be a "not so sweet" strudel or mine just needed a bit more sugar. Either way, it was delicious as a late night snack and even better for a late morning breakfast :) It got a little soggy overnight so I put it in the toaster oven for a few minutes and it was perfect. Another successful challenge and looking forward to the next one!

I am not sure I really needed to use the paddle attachment and then switch to the dough hook...

A perfectly kneaded ball of strudel dough

Ready to rest for a while...

I always freeze any leftover challah for breadcrumbs and my new Cuisinart mini chopper worked its magic for me...

Those breadcrumbs, all brown and toasty...

The apples and peaches, waiting for their turn...

Well rested, about an 1 1/2 hours...

Ready to be rolled...

and rolled...

I didn't try the stretching it by hand, there were too many holes already from the dough sticking to the tablecloth...

Melted butter and toasted breadcrumbs...I used my silicone brush and it didn't tear the dough...

Fruit and some folding...

Ready for the oven, with melted butter and a little sugar on top...

Golden brown and cooling...

Yum :)

Yum Yum ;)

I wont say whose seconds this was ;)

There was still some left this morning...

I actually ate this on the way to gymnastics!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Best Part of Summer

I love cooking, I love baking, I read recipes for fun and find grocery shopping more than exhilarating. I could be in my kitchen for hours on end (before kids, of course) chopping and mixing and braising and serving. That being said, I could retire my duties for the entire summer and only eat grilled chicken. It is the easiest thing to throw together and I leave most of the cooking to Danny, but I look forward to it all day and it never disappoints. I intended to take a picture of my plate of chicken, corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes, but I didn't get to the picture taking fast enough so the spice rub and pre/post pictures of the chicken will have to do.

This BBQ rub was adapted from Weber's Real Grilling cookbook (for the kids, I used olive oil and Montreal Chicken Seasoning):

2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp cumin

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I actually won something!!

I was looking around the Daring Kitchen website the other day and clicked on the profile of someone from Montreal. Turns out she had a cookbook giveaway, Gale Gand's Brunch. I love Gale Gand, she's from Chicago and I actually met her at gymnastics once. I haven't made any of her recipes because she doesn't seem to be counting too many calories these days...Anyways, I got an email today that I won the book! I just moved my cookbooks out of the closed cupboard and put them on display and I can't wait to add this one to the mix. Once I receive the book, I will be posting some very delicious recipes (hopefully!). Thanks, Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hamburger Helper without the "helper"

Last night I told Amelia that I was taking out ground turkey and asked what she wanted for dinner tonight. Before Amelia could get a word out, Leo shouted from the other room "turkey burgers...with ketchup!" Amelia decided against those and went with "meatballs, since I haven't had those forever". I am sure you are wondering, then, what is with the picture below? Well, since I *am* mother of the year, I took out 2 lbs of meat and used 1 to make *both* meatballs and burgers and with the other pound, I made a very yummy turkey and macaroni dinner. Here's what I did:

In a big pot, boiled 3 cups of dried elbow macaroni. While that was draining, I used the same pot to saute some red pepper and carrots and then added the ground turkey. When everything was brown and cooked through, I added the macaroni. Since I made dinner at 3pm, I put everything in the fridge until dinner time. When Danny got home (and was starving!) I added jarred marinara and water and stirred and stirred until everything was hot. The leftovers are in the freezer and ready to save the night. Yum :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jerk Chicken

There are a couple of reasons why I try to keep scallions on hand. First off, they are $.33 (you cant even get parsley that cheap) and second, they make everything they are in taste amazing. Even though the weather was in the 50s yesterday (grrr), Danny cleaned out the grill and wanted to use it. The only thing I had in the house were chicken breasts and I don't love grilling them unless they are really tasty. I might be heavily sleep deprived, but I am always thinking about food and it took me about 2 minutes to remember the scallions in the fridge and the jalapeno I had bought last week - that was $.04! hello? why do they even charge for those things?? Anyways, scallions + jalapeno and some really good spices = Jamaican Jerk Chicken. So easy, so good!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baby Squash ;)

Making baby food is so easy:

Two acorn squash:

With a very sharp knife, cut them in half and seed them with a soup spoon:

Put them in a dish with an inch or two of water and roast for 45 minutes or so at 400F - make sure they dont burn:

Scoop out the flesh with a soup spoon:

If they are old enough, you can give them the flesh straight up:

or, puree it for the little ones:

One satisfied customer (it took a few spoonfuls):

Squash cubes for later:

Chicken w/Lime Sauce

Last week, I was trying to use up my stash of lemons so I made this very simple Chicken w/Lime Sauce from Cooking Light and used lemons instead. It was a tear-out recipe in my files and I wanted to see if it was worth keeping. It couldnt have been easier, but I would double the sauce recipe next time and try the limes, I think it would have a more interesting flavor. For a side dish, I made bulgar - yes, I said bulgar. I was not able to go to the store and I am really trying to eat up this house so I searched my pantry and saw the bulgar. I always have it in "stock" because it is the main component of Danny's favorite summertime salad (see this post), but never thought to have it warm as a side dish. When I looked up recipes, they were all too complicated with too many ingredients, so I just used the cooking method. 2 c. of bulgar simmered in 3 1/2 c. water/chicken stock over a very low heat and tightly covered. I didn't really note the time, but I checked and it was *done*. Fluffy and yummy and very good for you. I have been looking for something other than white rice and Danny does not care for brown rice. Danny loved this, I loved it and Amelia couldn't get enough of it. I froze the leftover bulgar and it reheated beautifully last night for a very quick side dish.

The next night was Shabbat and we were eating alone. I used the leftover chicken to make yummy tacos. The left one is Danny's and mine is one the right. Fat-free refried beans, corn, cilantro, salsa, and avocado were all piled on. Yum :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sweet Half and Half Challah

I decided to try out a whole wheat challah recipe this week. I wanted to make my challah a little healthier since we all eat a ton of it during the week, with peanut butter, for pizza, toast with jam, etc. I wouldn't say that it was a huge success, but Amelia had her "meat sandwiches" on it twice and Leo had it with peanut butter. They all like the "other" one better, but I have been having it toasted and I love it. I sliced up an entire challah and froze it for pizzas because I know they wont care either way and it is a good way to get those whole grains into them.

Here is the website with the recipe and here are my notes:

The recipe calls for 2 oz yeast. After I measured it out on my scale (one of my best kitchen gadgets!), I had a feeling that almost 1/2 c. of yeast was a little crazy. I am not sure how this happened, but the lightbulb went off and I realized that they could be referring to fresh yeast instead of dry. Why they didn't specify, I have no clue, but I am proud of myself for figuring it out. I googled the conversion and there were a couple of opinions. I decided to go with the 1 oz of fresh yeast (1 patty) = 2 1/4 tsp of dry (1 packet). Here you see the difference in the two amounts - that's a 1/2 c. measure and a 2 TBSP measure.

Finished kneading...I only used 3/4 c. honey and 5 c. white flour

This is what happens when you let the dough rise 3 hours instead of 2!

I punched it down and let it rise a bit more...

It called for 6 parts, but I did 4 and made 2 into large loaves, 1 into 8 rolls and 1 is in the freezer for another week.

Ready to rise...

Risen, glazed and ready for the oven...I baked them about 27 minutes and then turned the oven off for 3.

Gorgeous ;) This is why I love making challah, the result is so worth it.