Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fast Thaw and Rise Bread

Well I sure learned something this morning!  Even the best made plans can hit a snag....and a big snag at that!  I forgot to set my bread out to thaw and rise last night.  This morning I woke up and realized that I was in BIG I had to get resourceful.

I remembered Thing #2 telling me how Texas Roadhouse got their rolls to rise by using a "proofer".  So when I took my breakfast biscuits out of the oven, I left the door open for just a few minutes (warmed the kitchen and cooled the over).  I added a bowl of tap water in the center then put my frozen bread loaves in greased pans, set them in the oven (now powered off) and closed the door.  That was at 7:00 am  

Just 4 hours later, I was ready to bake!  These are two of the biggest and prettiest loaves that I've baked in months.  Sunday miracles really do happen :)!

Now if you want to know the secret to the dough, I can't possibly tell you.  You'll have to ask the people that make and package it.  I just know that I can always count on the grocery to have it in the freezer for me.  Yes, I use frozen bread dough.  I'm busy but I want to make nice bread - I just don't have the time to grow the wheat and all that jazz.  Cheaters deserve delicious hot baked bread too!

Hope this saves someones meal sure saved mine!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Does ANYTHING say comfort more than chicken noodle soup? I say NO! This is so simple and can be ready in less than an hour but I prefer to let it simmer about 60 minutes to let the flavors really intensify.

2 cans chopped chicken (or you can chop a deli prepared chicken or bake the thing yourself - no skin)
1 package wide egg noodles
2 cans diced or crinkle cut carrots (crinkle cut presents so much prettier but little guys like diced)
1/2 sleeve of celery, diced fine and sauteed until tender.
2 boxes of chicken stock (any variety is fine)

Prepare noodles as directed and rinse with cold water to stop the starches from making your noodles sticky when done. Drain and add to chicken, carrots, celery and chicken stock. Cover and cook on high for an hour...serve with saltines of fresh baked bread.

This is hard to freeze as that pasta doesn't always come back as fresh from the freezer...but you'll rarely have left overs so it's no worry!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sausage Bread

This is an excellent make ahead breakfast for times when you have a house full of overnight guests.
2 loaves frozen bread dough (thaw completely)
1 lb county sausage (brown into crumbles, drain and cool) I like mine with a lot of meat so you can use more if you want to "pork" this recipe up some :)
2 cups mozzarella cheese (again, if you like things extra cheezy, use 3 cups)

Let the frozen dough thaw for 4 - 5 hours.  If you leave it out too long, it gets crusty and is harder to work with.

Flour your work surface, roll out one loaf of dough at a time (I just pull mine by hand.  You do what is easiest for you. Spread in 1/2 the sausage crumbles on each loaf, top with a cup or so of mozzarella cheese and roll into a log. Place on a well greased large cookie sheet or in a greased loaf pan and bake 20 minutes in a 350* oven. Let cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack, since and serve. You may let this cool completely then roll in saran wrap and refrigerate until breakfast. Sounds so simple but is soooo delicious.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Apple Muffins

1 can apple pie filling
2 cups baking mix (Bisquick or Jiffy Mix)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
This is as simple as it gets folks!  No I didn't harvest, wash, peel and bake the apples from scratch (but you certainly can if you have the time)!  I am a busy baker so I take what short cuts I can.  Today's goal was to make a light and simple muffin that wouldn't have 500 calories each!
Add apple pie filling to your mixing dish and mash it with a potato masher (or a fork will work too).  When your apples are mashed to a small chunk consistency, add baking mix, sugar, eggs and oil.  Mix well and add your batter into the baking cups or muffin tin...I use an ice cream scooper and it is the exact right amount every time.
Bake at 350* for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and centers are set. 
Now I did these straight forward and super simple.  You can embellish this with nuts, a streusel topping or even a glaze on top. 
Streusel Topping
1/2 cup baking mix (flour works too)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick real butter (softened but not melted)
1 tsp cinnamon sugar
Use a fork to "cut" ingredients into the butter, you want a medium to fine crumbly consistency.  Sprinkle the streusel over the top of batter then bake your muffins.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 t cinnamon sugar
2 T milk
Whip together then set in fridge to let the glaze thicken for about 10 - 15 minutes.  Drizzle over muffins and serve.
If you do go traditional and bake your own apples, be sure to add 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar to them in order to keep them sweet.  I like to mix my sugar as 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup brown sugar. 
Grab a cold glass of milk, butter up that muffin and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Eclair Jar Cake

This is a hurried lady's solution for dessert for 30 tomorrow and NO baking !!!

1 box chocolate graham crackers
2 large box vanilla instant pudding
1 cup peanut butter (creamy not crunchy)
3 1/2 cups milk
1 large tub Cool Whip, thawed - low fat is fine
2 cans chocolate frosting

You can make this in a 9x13 dish but I had a large apothecary jar on hand so I used it to make it look interesting...a trifle dish would do well too.

In bowl of an electric mixer, mix pudding with milk and peanut butter; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping - mix lightly until all blended (I used my whisk attachment and this was super quick and didn't beat the Cool Whip to death). Microwave chocolate frosting for 30 seconds - whisk until smooth. 

Line the bottom of your container with chocolate graham crackers - some I left whole, I broke a few to fill in the edges.   Pour 1/4 the pudding mixture over graham crackers . Pour 1/4 the frosting over the pudding layer.  Place another layer of whole graham crackers on top of pudding layer and repeat process.  Top with a layer of crushed graham crackers.

I had some extra Cool Whip on hand so I added a few layers of straight Cool Whip...a lady's gotta do what a lady's gotta do!  I NEVER waste ingredients!  It may not be called for but I bet no one will complain that I went off recipe tomorrow :)!

Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving.