Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meyer Lemon Sugar cookies!

It's that time of year again when the meyer lemon's start to show up in your grocery store! I love the taste of them, but I am always left wondering what I should do with them? I've done the limoncello, I've even made lemonade in the bitter cold with meyer lemons! It's time for something new!!

When I was younger my mom use to buy the Krusteaz Lemon Bar mix and make them into delicious lemon sugar cookies. I always loved them, well I thought I would do the same thing with meyer lemons, only it would be homemade!

The Cast:
sheet pans
parchment paper
mixing bowl and mixer or kitchen aid with your beater blade
measuring cups (I always forget this on the cast, but maybe because it's a given?)
portion scoop
cooling rack

The Ingredients:
2 sticks (1 cup) of room temperature unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons juice from the meyer lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 meyer lemons, washed
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

extra sugar for dusting
extra meyer lemon juice for dusting sugar

The Procedure:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place parchment paper on your sheet pans.

Start by creaming your butter and sugar together. After they become lighter and fluffier, add the eggs, zest your lemons right on top of the bowl into the wet ingredients and then squeeze the juice from the lemon and add 2 Tablespoons. Mix the eggs, juice and lemon zest just until they are incorporated and then add your flour and salt until they are just incorporated.

Mix the extra sugar and a tablespoon of the left over meyer lemon juice in a seperate bowl. It will look clumpy, but try and get as many clumps out as possible. Portion the cookie dough with a scoop into the meyer lemon sugar. Place on your sheet pans an inch apart and press down on the top of the dough, you don't want it completely flat, but enough that they won't come out of the oven looking like dough balls.

Bake the cookies for 11 minutes and allow them to continue to bake on the cookie sheets for another 5 minutes until you can transfer them to a cooling rack.

I'm fairly happy with the results! Little cookies that melt in your mouth and have a great citrus flavor!! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fresh baked bread!

Is there anything better in the world than the smell of fresh baked bread? I can attest that there is not. It has been snowing here in Seattle all day long! This is very unusual for Seattle, but a great time to be inside baking some bread!!

This bread is an Italian bread and is similar to the "french" bread that they sell at most grocery stores. I am using it for my Thanksgiving day stuffing! I will cut it up into cubes and bake it in the oven until it is nice and dry! It seems like such a waste of a beautiful loaf of bread, but that the dressing will be just as good!

The Cast:
Mixing bowl or your kitchen aid with hook attachment
sheet pans
parchment paper
lame (if you have one)
plastic wrap
cooking spray 
thin kitchen towel
oven safe dish

The Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 teaspoon barley malt syrup
5 cups of bread flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

The Procedure:
 Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In your mixing bowl add the yeast and then pour in the lukewarm water and barley malt syrup. While this is blooming, measure out your flour and salt into a bowl. Allow the yeast, water and barley malt syrup to bloom until it is looking a little foaming on top and then add your flour, salt and olive oil.

Mix all the ingredients together and mix until the dough feels elastic. Another way to test this is to take a piece of dough and spread it with your fingers to see if the gluten is developed, if it is, it will stretch apart and not break.

After it is mixed and desired elastic consistency, spray your bowl with some cooking spray and put the dough in and wrap with plastic wrap. Let bulk ferment for at least an hour. My favorite place to let it bulk ferment is in my laundry room with the dryer running! It get's all warm and humid in the room, which is perfect for fermenting bread.

Once it has done it's magic in your laundry room, take it out of the bowl, expelling the gases and cut the dough in half. Roll the two pieces of dough into about 10"-11" loaves. Place on parchment lined sheet pans with the seam side down and cover with a thin kitchen towel and place back in your warm, cozy place. Again, it is going to take about 45 minutes to an hour for it to reach to desired "double in size".

Check on the bread at 45 minutes and then slash with your lame.

After slashing let them proof for another 10 minutes or so. Then remove the towel and place in 425 degree oven with your oven safe dish filled with about an inch of water. Bake for 25 minutes. The bread should be a nice golden brown on the outside and give a nice hollow sound when thumped. 

The end result will be two beautiful loaves of bread that you can proudly butter and eat! This bread is great for sandwiches, dinner bread and for just plain eating! Enjoy! 

Edited to add: If you brush the bread with a nice, thin layer of olive oil you get a nice chewy artisan like crust! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cranberry sauce with a new twist!

Thanksgiving has always and will always be my favorite holiday! Now that I have my own home and family (albeit small) it is time for my own Thanksgiving traditions. We have all the usual guests, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans with the onions and bacon, yeast rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. However, we do some things a little different in my house! Everything is as homemade as humanly possible! Pie crust, of course! What kind of pastry chef would I be if bought premade pie dough? Pumpkin pie filling, don't even think about bringing the stuff from a can into my house! Whip cream? Absolutely! Even my stuffing will be homemade, right down the bread cubes from my own bread!

Thanksgiving's in my home are homemade, no pre-made food, just raw, good ingredients turned into a tasty meal! There is another twist as well! I'm a locavore! Well as much as a locavore as I can be! In my home we try to eat as many locally grown and produced items as we can! It is a simple concept and really started for my family this summer. I had gone to Trader Joes after a workout and had forgotten my water bottle. While I was at Trader Joe's I bought a bottle of Fiji water. I was telling my husband about this and his remark was, "I wonder how much gas and oil they used shipping that water from Fiji to America?" Thus, our local food obsession was born. Not only is it better for your enivornment and sustainability to buy local, it's good for your local economy! I am thankful that I live in a part of the country that is so bountiful with many goods! It isn't always possible, but even one meal a week made with local meat and produce can make a huge impact.

Now, I am going to climb off my soap box and tackle the issue at hand! Cranberry sauce!! I dreamed this little baby up last week! I have never actually made cranberry sauce for my Thanksgivings! This is a first in our household! I wanted it to be simple, different, unique and something that I came up with from my own little brain. Of course it has to be homemade, again, nothing from a can in this house! I remember years of people opening that can and out would plop a can sized mass of cranberry gel, it makes me shutter. Yes, I am a food snob! And dang proud!

Back to the cranberry sauce! I took another seasonal favorite and added it to my cranberry sauce, pomegranate! I really enjoyed the results and I hope you guys will too, so without further ado......

The cast:
A knife
A spoon
A pot

The Ingredients:
8 ounces of fresh cranberries (lucky me! They grow cranberries on the Washington and Oregon coast!)
1 cup pomegrante juice
seeds from one pomegrante, plus any juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 piece of crystallized ginger
zest of one orange

The Procedure:

This is a pretty simple procedure, I never realized how easy cranberry sauce was to make! I put the cranberries, pomegranate juice and sugar in the pot and let it start to get warm and a medium-low setting. Let them start mingling, getting really thick and good. While it was working it's voodoo on the stove I took apart and seeded the pomegranate. I cut the pomegranate in half and then took the seeds out with a spoon, it can be a little tricky! Pomegranates have lots of little cavernous places of seeds! Try and do it over the pot of cranberries as much as possible so the juice from the seeds goes into the pot, but make sure to keep the pulpy membrane out, it doesn't taste real good!

Once you get the pomegrante seeded, cut up your crystallized ginger and add it to the pot! You could probably even add two pieces if you like to taste your ginger! Cut it really small, almost minced!

After that is all done, zest your orange directly over the pot! All those essential oils come out when you zest and orange and they add a lot of flavor as well as the zest itself.

From here you are just going to simmer the cranberries until they start to thicken, I believe it took me about 45 minutes to reach the consistency I want! After you refridgerate them, they get really thick and almost like a jam or preserve!

You can most definitely start this recipe today! It will still be good by Thanksgiving and will be one less thing to do this week!!

Stay tuned, more Thanksgiving goodness to come in the following days!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pan fried apples and pears

For those that have never been to a Cracker Barrel, you don't know the beauty that is fried apples, or maybe you do? However, Cracker Barrel has some pretty amazing fried apples. Last week I went a little crazy at the grocery store buying organic apples! it is the end of the season for the honeycrisps, which are my favorite! So after buying 2 pounds of Braeburns, I decided I need a pound of honeycrisp! As a result, my fruit bowl is over crowded and we aren't able to eat it fast enough as is!

Enter, pan fried apples and pears! I think my version is a little healthier than good 'ole Cracker Barrels, however, the results are still quite tasty!! Not to mention a fairly guilt free dessert to go with that dinner and pretty quick and easy to make! Pair it with a little granola crumble garnish and it's almost like an apple crisp without all the calories!!

The Cast:
frying pan
cutting board
stirring spoon
cookie sheet
parchment paper

The Ingredients:
4-6 apples and or pears depending on the size. If they are small, go with six, if they are giant, go with 4. You get the idea
1 teaspoon disaronno amaretto
1/4 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Granola garnish:
1/2 cup oats
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil or canola oil
2 Tablespoon shredded coconut
pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make your granola first before you get to the apples. Add all the granola ingredients in a bowl and mix them together and spread them out on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until light golden brown, it will probably take about 10 minutes.

Clean your apples and the peel and core them. Slice the apples into wedges, I usually cut them in half and then cut the halves into fourths. 

Heat your olive oil in the frying pan at medium heat and add your apple butter. Let the apple butter warm up and then add your apples and pear with the disaronno amaretto and let cook for a minute. Sprinkle the apples and pears with the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Cover and let cook on low heat for 15 minutes until apples are tender and juicy. Stir the apples and pears occasionally to prevent scalding.

It sure does taste good and hit the spot on a cold fall night!! Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

S'more Cookies please!

I have been thinking about this recipe for quite some time now. When I was working at my last job I made a plethora of cookies for tweens and teens! Part of the job was trying to come up with new things the kids would enjoy and buy! Everyone loves s'mores, but the recipe didn't come to fruitation until about a month ago, long after I had left that job.

The s'more cookies are a Naulty Bits original! I love when I can say that I came up with the recipe all on my own, because the whole reason I started this blog was to challenge myself and come up with new unique ideas that aren't very common. I have no idea if there is a s'more cookie recipe floating around out there somewhere or not. I came up with this s'more cookie recipe all on my own and I am proud of the results!

The cookies are a drop cookie and are easy to make, good for lunches, care packages and everything in between. Not to mention they are a good go to when you can't get out and roast marshmallows over an open fire!! The rainy season has started here in Seattle, so I won't be roasting marshmallows anytime soon.

I hope you all enjoy and get a bit of summer that we all love while it is chilly and wet out!!

The Cast:
cookie sheets
mixing bowl with paddle attachment or hand mixer
ice cream scoops for portioning
parchment paper

The Ingredients: 
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups graham flour (I found in the natural food section of my grocery store, Bob's Red Mill makes the graham flour I used)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup small marshmallows

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get your cookie sheets all ready. I line mine with parchment paper.

Cream your butter and sugars until well combined, then add your egg and mix until combined. From here you are going to add the rest of the wet ingredients, which are the vanilla and the honey, and combine well. After the wet ingredients are all incorporated add your dry ingredients, the all purpose flour, graham flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there are trace amounts of flour and then add your marshmallows and chocolate chips and mix until the trace amounts of flour vanish.

Portion out the dough on your cookie sheets with an ice cream scoop or with your hands. I made mine about the size of ping pong balls. Portion control and uniformity is a lot easier with an ice cream scoop.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, let cool on the cookie sheets before transferring to a cooling rack.

Yield about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Now you can enjoy a camp favorite in the middle of winter!! Don't fear though, I have another version of this classic in the works that is a little more true to it's original form! And more gourmet! Stay tuned readers!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Cuppy cakes!

If you know me, you know that I love all things pumpkin! I could eat pumpkin anything all year round and it wouldn't bother me! Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because I can eat pumpkin pie! Which is by far my favorite pie of all time!

In recent years I have seen a lot of different pumpkin things popping up and it pleases me to no end! From pumkin scones, cookies, cake, doughnuts, custards, ice cream, milkshakes! It is endless!

One day I wanted something with pumpkin so I decided to take a pumpkin cake recipe and make some cupcakes! Then I frosted it with the browned butter icing from the dulce de leche apple bar recipe. The result was very tasty!!

The Cast:
cupcake pans
cupcake liners
mixing bowl with paddle attachment or hand mixer
small saucepan

The Ingredients:
For the cupcakes 
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
15 oz. of canned pumpkin puree or about 2 scant cups of your own pumpkin puree

For the icing
4 Tablespoons butter
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons heavy cream


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pans with the cupcake liners.

Cream your butter with your sugar and vanilla extract until well combined, then add your eggs 1 at a time beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and mix well before adding the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until just after the last traces of flour dissapate.

Once the batter is all mixed, portion them out into the cupcake liners in the cupcake pan. I yielded about 12 cupcakes.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, if they get golden on top they have baked for too long! Use a toothpick or skewer to test the middle of them. There is a low fat content in these, so they will dry out if they bake to long.

While the cupcakes are baking take the opportunity to make the icing. To do this you are going to need a small sauce pan. Before you start heating the butter get your powdered sugar sifted into a bowl. You are going to heat the butter over medium until it begins to brown. Once it browns remove it and pour it directly onto the powdered sugar and then add the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Whisk this all together until it is combined.

Once the cupcakes are finished baking, let them cool down before icing them. I wouldn't recommend piping the icing, it probably won't hold up. Instead just spread it on the cupcakes smoothly and evenly!

Add whatever, garnish! I added some orange sugar on top since I couldn't pipe the icing. It is a pretty dense cake as you can see, but really springy and tasty!! I hope you give it a try and enjoy it! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Roasting Pumpkins!

Hey there trusty blogging pals! Sorry for the absence (and the corny return). I've still been baking up a storm and just haven't been updating! Bad Chef. I figured with the holidays knock, knock, knockin' on our doors, it was time to get back into the swing of all food blogging things!!

Today, I decided roasting pumpkins was a good jumping off point! Why you may ask? Well, tis the season my dear bloggers, tis the season. When you roast your own pumpkins imagine all the possibilities! From the expected pumpkin pie, to the unexpected cookies, scones, pumpkin dog treats and everything in between!! Speaking of those furry friends, have you ever tried just putting some pumpkin puree mixed with your dogs dry food? My puppers, Layla and Triton, really enjoy it and they think they are being spoiled! Little do they know that it is a really good boost to their digestive track! And much better than the pumpkin muffins that Layla ate off our counter 2 years ago! That naulty dog. Get the pun? :)

So to start off with roasting pumpkins, you are going to need some pumpkins! Whoa, revolutationary I know! Now, don't go thinking you can take that jack o'lantern off your porch, roast and eat it! Them aren't for eating friends, strictly carving!! If you aren't sure what pumpkins are good for eating, just ask your produce clerk. The ones I am familiar with are cinderalla and sugar pumpkins, the ones you generally find at your grocery store with the squash are sugar pumpkins.

The Cast:
Roasting pan or casserole dish
roasting pan lid or aluminum foil
food processor/blender/good 'ole ingenuity
metal spoon
cutting board

The Ingredients:

This is really quite simple! Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and pour water into the bottom of your roasting pan or casserole dish. I add enough water until the bottom is just covered, you don't want them going for a swim.

After you fill your pan with water you are going to cut your pumpkins in halve, I had the easiest time cutting them horizontally. Once you are inside scoop out the fiberous strings and the pumpkin seeds with a metal spoon. You can save the seeds to roast, they make some good eating!

Now place your pumpkin flesh side down in the water, you want the skins sticking up out of the pan. You are going to bake the pumpkins for an hour and a half in your oven.

When you bring out the pumpkins be smart and open the door and move away! When you have water in the oven, it tends to get steamy in there! The worst burn you will ever have comes from steam and you are the least likely to know it has happened until it is too late! So be careful friends!

After you are finished roasting the pumpkin let it sit until you are able to pick it up. In other words, you are going to be handling the pumpkin so let it sit for probably at least an hour before attempting to handle it.

Once the pumpkin has cooled take a metal spoon and start scooping out, it will be really soft and it should be really easy to get the pumpkin out. If it isn't you may want to stick it back in the oven for a couple minutes.

After you hollow out the pumpkin, go ahead and puree it in your processor, blender or if you have neither it is really easy to just mash it like a potato. 
If you are so inclined, you can keep the hollowed out pumpkin skin and use it as a bowl for pumpkin soup or any other harvest dish! It gives a nice presentation and has a good wow factor!!

That's a whole lotta pumpkin goin' on!!! You can store in your freezer for later use if need be! I had pumpkin from my freezer from last year that was still perfectly tasty and made some good pumpkin cookies!

Stayed tuned for what to do with all your thrifty pumpkin puree!!