I love family. I love learning. I love food. This is simply a collection of thoughts, memories, and recipes that are a piece of me!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Basic Breads Make Mommies Happy.

I love bread.  Pretty much any carbs are friends of mine, but a really yummy yeasty homemade white bread, well, I'd marry it.  I love that I can avoid doing anything all day, throw a loaf of fresh bread into the oven, and magically have become the perfect 1950s housewife.  ...okay, so maybe I wouldn't go THAT far, but, I do love the feeling I get knowing such a basic pantry item can be made whenever I see fit by my own two hands.  Something about the simplicity of it is beautiful to me.  And it's easy.  Really easy.  Like, "why didn't I start doing this years ago?!" easy.  I have used this basic idea of a recipe for years now.  I have no idea where I got the first draft of it, but I've tweaked it numerous times and I really love how it turns out.  This is a super versatile recipe, too, so feel free to switch it up.  I've made it with cinnamon for a sweet bread and a couple of spoonfuls of Italian seasoning for an herb bread.  Both were lovely.  Oh, and it only takes about an hour to an hour and a half to make. So indulge and make this for dinner.  Tonight.

What you'll need:
2 cups of hot water (hottest you can get from the tap)
4 tsp of yeast (or 2 packets)
1 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
3 tbsp of oil
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour

Start by adding your water to a big bowl.  Sprinkle your yeast in the water, then sprinkle the sugar over the yeast.  There's no need to even stir...just let it do its magic.

Once the yeast and sugar and water have set for a few minutes, the water is going to look milky and foamy.  This means the yeast "bloomed." At this point, add in your salt and oil.  Mix 'er up.

At this point, if you're using a mixer like I did, add in about half of your flour, mix it in, then add in the rest, a little at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky.  If you're not using a mixer (which is how I usually make it) add half of the flour, mix it with a big spoon, then add the rest of the flour a little at a time, mixing it in by hand, kneading it until the dough is not longer sticky and is elastic.

Even if you are using a mixer, you'll want to dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for a second just to smooth it out.  Once it's ready, it will look like this.

Form it into loaf shapes and put it in two loaf pans.  Cover with a damp cloth, set aside, and let it rise for about 20 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, pop it in the oven and bake for half an hour (or until lovely and golden).  Here's a great tip my mom taught me: When your bread comes out of the oven, rub butter all over the top.  That keeps the top from getting hard, and it makes it extra delicious.  This recipe makes two loaves, so it's perfect if you want to freeze one...or if you want to share!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nutella Anything Is Amazing.

So pretty much everyone I have met (besides my crazy "I'd rather not eat sweets unless it's the right time" husband) loves Nutella.  I thought I was alone in this culinary adoration, but alas, I am not.  This pleases my heart, honestly, because my craze for it feels less odd.  I've made many thing sin the past with it including Nutella hot chocolate and fried Nutella won tons.  Today, however, I decided to take a stab at this: Nutella cheesecake.   I had two problems with this recipe.  Problem #1 was that unless I'm in a very entertaining kind of mood, I don't particularly care for making things in individual dishes.  It's more clean up.  My second problem was that I am not the biggest fan in the world of Cool Whip.  I was at least 21 before I found out that cool whip is NOT whipped cream, and I haven't really looked back since.  So here's my take on this recipe...enjoy!

And yes...those are the beautiful daisies (my favorite flower!) my sweet husband brought to me on Valentine's Day!

What you'll need:
Oreo crust (again, one of my favorite convenient items)
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
8 oz block of cream cheese
3/4 cup Nutella
1 tsp vanilla
(Not pictured, but I did add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar because I like my stuff sweet...you can add none or less or more...but I would NOT suggest more.)

You'll also need a mixer if you value your arms.

Start by adding your heavy cream to a big bowl and beat until you get a little air in it.  Add in your cream cheese.  Make sure your cream is super cold and your cream cheese is room temperature.  If they aren't, you cream cheese will never blend in well and your cream will never whip up right.  Beat it together until soft peaks form.

Add vanilla and Nutella.  Beat it together just enough to blend well and taste.  If it's not sweet enough, add powdered sugar, just a tablespoon or less at a time.  Beat to stiff peaks and add to your crust.  Refrigerate and consume!

I will note, too, that this makes the most delicious chocolate mouse.  It works perfectly in pretty individual dishes and garnished with some chocolate or roasted hazelnuts!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cheesecake Cream Pie.

It's no secret that I love to eat.  It's less of a secret that I love sweets.  They are kinda my passion when it comes to cooking, and I'm always on the lookout for perfect desserts.  A good while ago, I was watching Paula Deen, and she made this.  It looked like a lot of work to me- all that decorating and layering.  I rarely feel like doing that, so I thought I'd adapt this basic idea and create something of my own that was super easy...and so "pie" was born.  It's smooth and creamy and light and wonderfully heavenly. This recipe actually makes two whole pies, so it's a perfect thing to make and keep one for you and take one to a friend.  They will love you for it and probably ask for the recipe. I make this all the time.  A new one shows up in my fridge at least once a week.  This is seriously my favorite thing (next to my mom's mashed potatoes and gravy...) in the world...but seriously.  If you make nothing else on my blog, make this pie.

What you'll need:
2 Oreo pie crusts (find this in the baking aisle)
2 boxes of cheesecake flavored instant pudding
2 cups of sour cream
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, blend together the cream, milk, sour cream, and vanilla, just until the sour cream is broke up a bit.  Add the instant pudding mix, and beat on high for a minute or so, just so it starts to thicken.  Beat on high for a good few minutes.  Get it super thick and creamy.  It will look like this when it's ready:

It will be right before the "stiff peaks" stage.  You want it thick because it's a pie...it will be cut.  If it's not thick enough when you cut it, you will have a very delicious mess.

Once it's all blended up all nice and pretty, separate it into the two pie crusts.  No baking.  No oven.  Just cover with the plastic domes and refrigerate for as long as you can possibly stand it.