Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to make Sour Dough Bread

Well, what have we here? Some sourdoughs starter? Whatever will I make now? I know! Bread!
So here is what you need:
Flour
Yeast
Bread Machine
Bread Pan
Salt
Yeast
Starter
Water
So place 2 2/3 c. of bread flour in a bread machine, place in as well 1 c. of the starter, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast and 3/4 c. of warm water. Set the bread maker for a dough cycle, which on my machine is number 9. Now yes you could have kneaded it and done all the mixing, but I have better things to do so I let the machine do the work for me. So once it was done I placed it in a bread pan and baked for 25 minutes at 425, I enjoy a very dense sourdough so I did not let it rise again, however if you want light and fluffy let it sit in the pan for 45 minutes covered with a tea towel before cooking...again I have zero patience so...yeah..well when it's done cooking, it should be golden brown and if you tap it the bread should sound hollow, invert onto a wire cooling rack and let cool then cut and eat... if you can wait that long  test subject Jon enjoyed the bread and as did I... we, however, could not wait!










Monday, March 28, 2011

How-To make a Sourdough Starter

I love sourdough! However, it is hard to make a lot of sourdough items without a starter, making a starter is a long process and takes days before you can even make a sourdough item. I wanted to make cookies, yes sourdough cookies. I know it sounds weird but a girl I went to high school with liked them and it sounded good to me. So the first thing with any sourdough item is you need a couple of days before you use it, 2-5 to be precise! It supposedly has a nice sourdough smell but since I have a cold..I have no clue how it will smell. So here is what you will need:
2 C.Flour
1 Package Yeast
2 C. warm Water
2 TSP Honey or Sugar
Tea Towel
Plastic or Glass Container
Wooden Spoon
Now this will sit on the counter top for days so make sure you have space for it to just chill, it needs to be about 68 - 80 degrees in your room. Okay first thing first put the flour and yeast into the vessel mine is a large plastic measuring cup...which my father misses a great deal...anyway, get some warm water..about 105 - 115 degrees any colder won't work any hotter and bye bye yeast! So mix the water in with a wooden spoon and then add the honey or sugar, I prefer honey as it has a distinct taste and it is all natural. Sugar will allow the starter to develop quicker allowing you to use it quicker! Okay so after it is all mixed in place a tea towel over top of the plastic vessel, when bubbles begin to appear cover with plastic wrap leaving some open space, and call it day. Tomorrow stir and remove one cup of mixture replace with 1 c. warm water and 1 c. flour stir and place tea towel over for an hour, then plastic wrap it again...stir and repeat the same task each day until you are ready to use it. Now if you, like me, are not going to be using it every day feel free to place it in the fridge,while in the fridge there is no need to "feed it" and make sure to remove it eight hours before you are ready to use it. If you are not going to use it for a LONG LONG time place it in a plastic Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer, when you want it pull it out 2 days prior and feed it once it has defrosted. Now since mine will be in the fridge there can and will be an item that forms on top called hooch. You can stir it in if you're going to be baking, if you don't want it pour it out. If your starter ever looks orange or pink throw it out and start again. Please check back with me in a couple of days for a new recipe using the starter! Note: The  starter will not be ready for a couple of days but you still have to feed it!





Monday, March 21, 2011

How-To Make Lasagna

So today test subject Jon begged for me to make lasagna...I went to the freezer and microwaved him some...to his dismay, mine as well. See as easy as that was it tasted like...well....freezer food. So I decided to take it upon myself to make him some real tasty lasagna. Well since this is his favorite food I figured it would go over well!
So first thing as always items you will need:
Lasagna noodles
Sauce (your favorite red sauce or make your own..I did not..)
Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Ground round, or any type of ground meat you like
Italian sausage
1 Egg
Spices
Wine
13 x 9 pan
Foil
Okay so put a large pot on the stove with water for your noodles(unless you bought no cook noodles...which I did not) add some salt if you want. Now in another pan or pot put your meats in it and brown. Now once your meat is brown add your sauce you'll need at least two cans. Add any spices you want to it, I added garlic, oregano, basil, and pepper. Now add about 1/3 - 1/2 c. of wine to your sauce, this is not required but makes for a tasty sauce. Let it simmer. If you add red it will be sweet. So moving along I am sure that you cooked your noodles for the proper amount of time..it is listed on the back of the box..anyway. Drain the noodles while your sauce just simmers away, drain and rinse with cold water, this stops the noodle from cooking.  Now add about 1/3 of the sauce to the bottom of a 13x9 pan then do some noodles in a line across, look at pictures below. There will be some gap at the bottom of the pan. So place the noodles the opposite direction. Now take your ricotta and mix it with the egg in a bowl. Then apply 1/3 of the mixture to the noodles, then add your cheeses to cover. Not too much! Now repeat with the sauce and noodles, however,don't forget where you placed the noodles that went the opposite direction. There needs to be a "structural support" to this design so do it on the opposite side this time...see pictures below. Cook at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, halfway through cover with foil







Note sideways noodles on this section!




Monday, March 14, 2011

How-To make ranch chicken pizza

This is my FiancĂ©'s favorite pizza, I used to make it at an amazing local pizza joint. But this version is slightly different...why? Well because I am using fresh ingredients. Now lets start, I made my own dough, so if you have a favorite dough recipe use that if not there will be one located below for you to use. Or you could probably go to a local pizza place and buy dough, you get my Drift. So first thing is first you will need the following items:  Chicken breast
Onion
Garlic powder
Oregano
Ranch dressing
Provolone cheese
Mozzarella cheese - I grated both myself because my store does not sell grated provolone
Pizza dough
Preheat the oven to 450 now, and make sure your rack is two slots from the bottom.
So get a pizza pan or use a square cookie sheet both are okay for this application and stretch the dough onto it, if you want to use a pizza stone...I am not giving instructions for those, so good luck. Okay so is your dough stretched over the pan you are using? Yes great! Add some ranch dressing to the dough you are going to want a thin layer on the dough go close to the edge. Now did you make grilled chicken breast last night for dinner? Well I did so thats why I am making this, so cut up some strips of chicken and place it on the pizza, you only need one breast, and a small one at that.  This should be ample. Now cut up some onion, your going to want some thin strips. Any type of onion is fine, red onions are amazing, but I do not have any..so yellow it is! Now are you done adding the onion? Yes? Great. Moving on, grate the cheeses, or if you bought pre-grated, add it to the top, like you would on ANY pizza. Now add some garlic powder (or garlic salt if you prefer..I hate salt so its not going on mine) then add some oregano. Okay place the pizza in the oven cook about ten to thirteen minutes. The crust will be crisp and the pizza amazing. Oh and how does test subject Jon feel about the pizza? Well he says: "Leave me alone I'm eating the other half of the pizza"
Here is a dough recipe that my mother uses:

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
4-5 c. sifted flour
Mix everything except the flour in a large bowl. Add flour one cup at a time until the dough is solid. Now place on counter and kneed for 5-8 min let rest for up to 24 hours, I only let mine sit for 15 minutes. Voila! Dough!








Monday, March 7, 2011

How-to make beef stew

Todays how to is important to me. See I am TIRED of cooking and I feel that it is test subject Jon's turn to start helping out around here. So I am ordering to make his famous beef stew. Yum yum!
So lets get started! Step one: Beg test subject Jon for several hours to make you some beef stew. Wait two plus hours and enjoy! Yum!!!
Oh wait...you still have no clue how to make it. Lucky for you I have taken some photos to show you how! Also test subject Jon was feeling pretty generous to me how sweet!
Things you will need:
Beef
Garlic
Onions
Potatoes
Carrots
bbq sauce - just trust me
soy sauce optional
tomato sauce, paste, or spaghetti sauce
herbs
water
beef bullion, or chicken, or some sort of stock.
So step one, get some stewing meat. We chose some tasty beef shoulder, you will need two pounds. Cut it up in chunk size peices. Do you have a large pot on the stove? Yes? Good. Add some olive oil (EVOO just to make test subject Tristan angry I will use that term) turn it to about medium high heat and brown the out side of the meat. Are you done? Great, now add about 1 tablespoon of garlic and half of an onion and cook them until they are translucent. Now add 4 cups of water, maybe a little more maybe a little less. It will depend, plus you can always make it thinner with water. Now, add some (I use this term because test subject Jon does not measure, however, the pictures below will show you about how much he used) tomato paste, or sauce, or even spaghetti sauce, which is what we had to use, also please add about 1 - 2 teaspoons of beef bouillon mix, or if you have the little cubes, two of them, at this point you should add about 1 cap-ful of soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce if you have it. (Paste = 2 oz, sauce = 1 cup, spaghetti sauce about 1/4 - 1/3 cup). Now bring to a simmer. This could take a couple of minutes. Done? Yay! Add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of BBQ sauce (just eyeball) and reduce, add a lid, and cook for 1 1/2 hours also at this point you should add any spices you want, we used garlic powder, pepper, and fresh rosemary, which was left over from the orange chicken blog. Now when you have about twenty minutes left we are going to cut veggies. We used carrots and potatoes. However, you can add whatever you would like i suggest celery, but we were out. Now your 90 minutes is up so add the veggies (you did cut them right? Just a rough cut is okay on the carrots but make sure all of the potatoes are about the same.) Now stir, make sure there is enough water to cover everything, cook for another 45 minutes. Now in the meantime we need to make rice, why well because thats what we are going to put the stew over. Now I am not teaching you how to make rice. But I will tell you this, if you are making regular rice (not instant) on the stove, for every one cup of rice there is TWO cups of liquid, if you make instant rice there is equal amounts of liquid to rice. Now finally if you are using a rice cooker, READ YOUR MANUAL! Overall read the instructions on the back of the package to make rice. SUPER SIMPLE! Now finally our stew is done, yum yum, plate and enjoy, oh, also leave test subject Jon with the dishes...best night ever. If you want to know how to thicken then either add some flour or corn starch.





Test Subject Jon says: "Clean hands are happy Hands"
















YUM YUM!!!





















Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How-To make amazing sugar cookies

My grandmother has always made the most delicious sugar cookies. You know those really sugary cookies that are soft and have the frosting, by lofthouse, well she makes them better than they do. Those are delicious, but too sugary and expensive. I also maintain they mimicked her since her mother made them before her. Well my amazing grandmother used to make these cookies for Sunday school kids for years, well everyone of them have asked for the recipe and she has finally given it out, and I am writing to better explain the recipe, since I have made them fifty times.Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Please follow these measurements closely: 
1 c. butter or margarine
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 c milk
5 c. flour

Okay so first things first, add butter or margarine to a large mixing bowl, you will need a mixer to make this easier, but not required since my grandmother makes all her's by hand mixing. Put butter and sugar together, cream it together. Basically this means mixing until everything is well combined and the color of the butter or margarine has become a light color. Did it happen? Great! You saw it, pretty nifty huh! Now moving on, add your eggs and vanilla into the bowl, combine, no need to super beat, just mix it together. Now add all of your dry ingredients together into a separate bowl, set it aside. Measure out 1 cup of milk, let it sit. Now add about 1 and 1/2 cups of the dry ingredients into the sugar, egg, and butter mixture. Mix it together, add a small amount of milk. Do those last two steps until all of the dry and milk is mixed.  Congrats you have made a really amazing sugar cookie dough. Yes it should look like you just made some sort of thick batter. Well now lets bake! Did you remember to pre-heat? Yes? Good! Now pull out a cookie sheet either spray it with some non-stick cooking spray or purchase some parchment paper. I prefer parchment, but I did not have any today. Okay spoon out about a two inch size of dough onto the pan, slide it into the oven and bake 10 - 12 min. Remove from sheet and place it on a cooling rack. Let it cool throughly then follow the next recipe to frost. You could eat them without the frosting, but they are SO much better with the frosting. 

Frosting
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. solid shorting (Crisco)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb powdered sugar
3 tbsp cold milk
Cream butter and shortening together add vanilla and salt add sugar about a cup at a time and milk as needed. Keep in fridge when not in use. Stores well.
This has to be butter or else it will not look right! The frosting is better with butter and will harden on the cookie.
Now how to store. Frost each cookie place them in any container in a straight line, let frosting set...now is it set? Yes? Great, add a layer of wax paper over top of the cookies, frost the next set. Great continue till you are done. This makes about five dozen cookies or more, if you can't eat that much either make them all and freeze or make them when you want them the dough lasts a while in the fridge. 
So who tested these cookies? Well my multiple test subjects are vast, but recently my friend Tristan stated: "These are sexy gewd, better than any store bought cookie EVER" Thank you Tristan, you can have another cookie :)