Tag-Archive for ◊ comfort food ◊

09 Sep 2019 Sweet and Cinnamon-y Apple Bread
Sweet and Cinnamon-y Apple Bread

Bread baking is my Everest, meaning I haven’t conquered it yet.  I’m not even at base camp so the bread recipes that appeal to me are easy and pretty much foolproof.  Here’s one of them! The recipe is easy. I see you shaking your head. Is it because you’ve already noticed the 22 steps?  Granted, that seems like a lot, but there are 22 only because I broke each step down into tiny increments. You can do this, and you can have a loaf of Sweet Apple Bread ready to eat in about two hours. For a fancy, fruit filled yeasted bread, that’s a pretty quick turnaround time! The two hours in not all hands-on work ether, that time includes two periods of rest for the dough to rise, plus the baking time! The resulting product is delicious and impressive. Around here the aroma of this bread baking reliably gets sleepyheads out of bed and ready to face the day with a smile on their faces!

The bread is not burned! Darned filter!
I bake better than the I take pictures.

I didn’t create this recipe; I am not nearly that smart. I found it in Better Homes and Garden…Fall Baking.  At the same time my daughter found it in……  Then I googled it, and the recipe is all over the Internet, so I don’t know who or where it first came from, but it’s a good one, a keeper, and almost infallible.  Although…I did have it fail once. I didn’t measure the apples.  I wanted more apples and more apples, so I probably ended up with double the apples and one soggy, flat, never did bake loaf, so don’t do that! Measure the apples! I have made this bread with both cinnamon and Apple Pie Spice. I prefer it with Apple Pie Spice. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, order it from Penzy’s Spices.

My daughter’s first loaf of Sweet and Cinnamon-y Apple Bread

While looking for this recipe on line, my daughter came across an almost identical recipe made with pumpkin. Unbeknownst to each other, we both made it, on the same afternoon, and we both thought it needed some upgrading, so we’ll work on that. Look for an enhanced pumpkin bread soon but until then, make this, it’s a winner.

Sweet and Cinnamon-y Apple Loaf

For Dough

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 package (2 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (divided use)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour

For Filling

  • 1/4 cup melted or very, very soft butter
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apple (usually one very large apple)
  • 3/4 cup (75 grams) packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice or Cinnamon

For Icing

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened (optional)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  1. In the microwave, heat milk until just until lukewarm, approx. 105°F to 115°F, about 30-60 seconds, (depending on the wattage of the microwave).
  2. Combine warm milk, yeast, and ½ tsp of sugar in small bowl. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. In bowl of electric mixer combine egg, 1/4 cup melted butter, the rest of the granulated sugar, and salt. Beat for 30 seconds.
  4. Add yeast mixture to egg/butter mixture. Beat with mixer on medium until combined.
  5. Add half the flour to mixture in bowl. Beat on low 30 seconds, scraping bowl as needed, then beat for 3 minutes on medium.
  6. Stir in remaining flour. Beat for another 2 minutes or so.
  7. Shape dough into ball (dough will not be smooth).
  8. Place dough in greased bowl; turn once to completely grease surface of dough.

Note: To make ahead: prepare as directed up to this step. Do not let dough rise. Cover bowl and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

  • Cover the dough with greased plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until nearly double in size 45 to 60 minutes (longer if dough has been refrigerated).
  • Grease 9×5-inch loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.

Note: Here comes the tricky part but it just sounds as if it’s tricky. Don’t stress it at all. The measurements are just approximate. Even the number of slices in the stacks are approximate. Eyeball everything! Have fun with it. Do.Not.Stress! This is a free-form bread. You can’t make a mistake. Go for it!

  1. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Roll dough into 20×12-inch rectangle (approximately, jagged edges are no problem).
  2. Brush dough with 1/4 cup melted or very soft butter then sprinkle with 1 tsp. white sugar.
  3. In a small bowl, combine chopped apples, brown sugar, and apple pie spice or cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture equidistantly over the dough.
  4. Cut the dough rectangle in half lengthwise to make two 20×6-inch strips (approximately)
  5. Cut each strip vertically into five 6×4-inch strips.
  6. Carefully make 2 stacks of 5 strips each. Cut each stack lengthwise into three 4×2-inch pieces.
  7. Now lift the stacks, and loosely stagger stacks in pan, cut sides up. You’ll have to push and pull to make all stacks fit. This is not a problem.  Lightly push down on dough to fill corners and level the top of the loaf.
  8. Cover loaf with greased plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until nearly double in size (40 to 45 minutes).
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake loaf for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers 200°F.
  10. Cool in pan 10 minutes.
  11. In a medium mixer bowl combine ingredients for icing: room temperature cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Beat in enough milk to make a glaze of drizzling consistency. (NOTE: I usually make the icing without the cream cheese)
  12. Remove loaf from pan and drizzle with icing. Cool at least 20 minutes more before eating (but bread will keep well for a few days).

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. Happy baking!

26 Jan 2018 Potatoes Baked in Cream (Potato Gratin)
potatoes-baked-in-cream-with-abby

Did the name of the recipe entice you click on this?! Well then, that makes us friends forever!

When my friends from Southern France were staying with us, they offered to make a side dish for dinner.  They didn’t use a recipe. They sliced up a few potatoes, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, poured a carton of cream over the top, and put the whole thing in the oven. Sixty minutes later my family’s love affair with Potatoes Baked in Cream began.

Last year I found an actual written down recipe, one that I can pass on, one with precise quantities and directions.  The recipe is from David Tanis’ cookbook, “Market Cooking”. I made one change to Chef Tanis’ recipe, I cut out an additional four tablespoons of butter! Chef Tanis calls his recipe “Classic Potato Gratin”, but to me and my family it will always be “Potatoes Baked in Cream”.

I think you will be surprised at how delicious this very simple dish is. I certainly was. Sublime. After you taste Potatoes Bake in Cream, that will be your word of the day. Sublime.

An important note:  Leftovers don’t reheat well, so make sure you eat all of the potatoes in one sitting (invite friends over, take the dish to a potluck, serve these potatoes for a holiday meal…). I haven’t tried reheating leftovers in the oven, so that might work (see David Tanis’ *note below). I have tried reheating leftovers in the microwave.  Don’t do it on 100% power!  I had so-so results reheating on 50% power. I wouldn’t serve them to anyone else, but I was able to eat them!  I have also had so-so results from throwing a handful of diced ham into a hot frying pan, dicing up a serving of leftover casserole, and reheating over medium heat. It made for a good breakfast, but nothing-nothing-like the original casserole served hot from the oven.

Another important note: The potatoes need to be sliced thinly and evenly. 1/8th inch or 3/16ths an inch is about right. You can do this with a very sharp knife and by working slowly and carefully, like my French friends did. I use a mandolin to slice the potatoes. If you don’t have one, I’d suggest getting one.  I bought mine on Amazon after looking at all the reviews and selecting the highest rated one. Later I started seeing mandolins at Savers/Goodwill for about $6.  I bought used mandolins for my daughters. Go to Savers.

Potatoes Baked in Cream (Potato Gratin)

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • butter to coat the baking dish (Chef Tanis uses 4 more tablespoons butter to dot top of casserole, I don’t)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2½ cups heavy whipping cream (don’t even think about substituting anything for the cream, such as half and half or whole milk, it just won’t work!)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Peel the potatoes and put them in cold water (to prevent them from turning brown while you finish the prep work. Slice only one layer of potatoes as a time. Keep the other potatoes in the cold water. The browning happens fast when the potatoes are so thinly cut).
  2. Smear a baking dish thickly with butter. (I use a 9×13 dish but I am looking for a dish that’s the same size and a bit shallower since the quantity of potatoes only come half way up the sides of the 9×13 pan. The waste of space bothers me a bit as I’d like to have a dedicated Potatoes Baked in Cream pan because, after all, this is a dish I will be making over and over! That being said, I’ve been using the same 9×13 pan for a few years now, so it’s really not a problem.)
  3. Drain and dry one peeled potato at a time. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice one potatoes at a time as thinly as possible. Quickly lay the potato slices in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them just slightly to make a “roof tile” style pattern. Sprinkle each layer of potatoes lightly with salt and pepper. Slice more potatoes and make another layer. Continue in this fashion, seasoning each layer, until all the potatoes are used. You should have at least 3, but no more than 4 layers.
  4. Pour the cream over the potatoes and tilt the pan to distribute well. With your hands, push down on the top layer to even out the pile (I don’t do this, but Chef Tanis says to). The cream should just barely cover the potatoes; add a little more if necessary.
  5. Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 375°.
  6. After 30 minutes remove the foil from the casserole, and return to the oven for another 30-35 minutes to finish cooking the potatoes and turn the top of the gratin to a crispy, deep golden brown.
  7. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving.

*Note from David Tanis: The gratin can also be cooled and left at room temperature for several hours, then reheated in a moderate oven. (I haven’t tested this)

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today, what is cooking for tomorrow, hmmmm…. Pork and Tomatillo Stew?

24 Mar 2017 Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
 

chocolate-peanut-butter-chip-cookies

This recipe is from the back of the bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips (see picture below).  The cookie is fabulous.  It’s like a peanut butter cup in cookie form.

My daughter made these cookies for a “Back of the Box” themed Cookbook Club meeting.  She loves peanut butter.  She saw the chips.  She read the recipe on the back of the bag.  She made the cookies. Everyone swooned. End of story.

Well, not quite the end of the story because now I’m posting the recipe, as is, lifted right off the back of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chip bag. You’ve just read the recipe and my swooning review. You are going to go out to get a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips. You are going to make the cookie. You and yours will swoon. You’ll go down as one of the best cookie bakers EVER!

End of story.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (natural baking powder-like Hershey’s, NOT Dutch processed cocoa powder)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 10 oz. pkg REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips – divided use
  • 1 1/4 cups butter (2-1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well.
  6.  Stir in most of the  peanut butter chips. Hold out some peanut butter chips to decorate the tops of the cookies before baking.
  7. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased, preferably parchment lined, unrimmed cookie sheet. If desired, press 2, 3, or 4 peanut butter chips onto the top of each cookie.
  8. Bake 8 to 9 minutes. (Do not over bake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling.)
  9. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
  10. Makes about 4 dozen cookies, but depends on the size of your cookie.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

reese-s-peanut-butter-chips

20 Mar 2017 B.O.B. Brownies
bob-brownies-bite

Google “Back of the Box” recipes and you’ll get lists such as 10 Best Back-of-the-box recipes from Epicurious, or Buzz Feed or The Daily Meal.  Never 20 best back-of-the-box recipes or 100 best back-of-the-box recipes.  Nope. Just 10. Because there are only about 10 really good back-of-the-box recipes 🙂

In my (albeit, limited) experience, it seems most back-of-the-box recipes sound good but in reality are quite plain and quite bland.  There are 10 good ones though!  Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Philadelphia Cheesecake, Alber’s Cornbread, Rice Krispie Treats, Lipton Onion Dip jump to mind.  Pssst…! And now I have found another one! It’s on the back of the bag of Dutch Process cocoa powder that I purchased at Costco (brand name: Rodelle Organics).

These brownies are delicious, and just my type of brownie.  Everyone seems to have their own preferred brownie type, right? This is mine.  Slightly crunchy top, oh-so-chocolately flavor, dense-but not fudge, light-but not cakey.  These are just right!  AND, they’re easy-to-make, and one batch fills a 9×13 pan!  The brownies slice well, too. What more could one want?

B.O.B.* Brownies

*Back of Bag (Rodelle Organic Dutch Process Baking Cocoa, sold at Costco)

  • 1 cup plus 2 T. butter
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 5 eggs (yes, 5. I was shocked, too)
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ cup plus 1 T. flour
  • ¾ cup plus 1 T. Dutch Process cocoa powder (no substitutions)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  3. Melt butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan on very low heat.
  4. Let the mixture slightly cool and transfer to a large bowl. Beat well.
  5. Add eggs, gradually, mixing well.
  6. Add vanilla extract.
  7. Sift dry ingredients together.
  8. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture, stirring gently and minimally.
  9. Stir in chips and nuts.
  10. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake approximately 35 minutes. Do not overbake.
  11. Cool before cutting.
  12. Cut into squares and enjoy.