Friday, April 27, 2012

Triumph Over Tragedy

I was pretty interested when I saw this month's Daring Baker's Challenge.  The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake. Neither looked particularly difficult but definitely something that I never would have made without the push to try.

 I made the Nazook over Easter weekend.  Half I used the regular vanilla filling, which I enjoyed.  The other half I added some mini-chocolate chips because D really likes chocolate.  After sharing some in Sunday school, I divided the remaining Nazook between Daddy and D.  When my parents came back the next weekend for a funeral, Daddy said that he was REALLY sad when the "rolled things" were gone. 

The only delay in making these is having to rest the dough; however, I made the dough Saturday night and finished the next morning before church with very little extra time required.  I would definitely make this again and play around some with the filling. I decided to make the nutmeg cake for one of our (many) baby showers at work.  I got really excited because I thought I would be all cute and take my new cake plate to display it. 

Well, this is where tragedy come in play...I was walking up the stairs in the parking garage and caught my foot on the stair rise.  Down I go!  I hit my knee on the edge of the stair and dropped my carrier in order to catch myself...there went my pretty cake plate into pieces!  Thankfully, the cake was okay as it was in a separate container. 

At first I was so sad about my plate...then my knee started hurting and I had to limp the rest of the day....I am now the proud bearer of a purple, green bruise across my knee...two weeks later!  Oh, well...more importantly the cake was delicious!  The honoree at the shower loved it and it was super easy to make.  I used the food processor method.  I think I used a little less butter than called for and it was still good.  The crust, of course, was my favorite part!  Mmmmm!  Another one I'll make again.  Thanks for the great challenges!

3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm/15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
2½ teaspoons (12½ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) sour cream, I used low fat
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) softened butter (room temperature)

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (340 gm/12 oz) sugar
1/2 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract

1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)

  For the pastry dough, place the sifted flour into a large bowl and add the dry yeast, and mix it in.  Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.  Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough using a dough hook. Beat for several minutes or until dough doesn't stick to sides of bowl. Add a little flour if needed.  Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

For the filling mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.  Add the vanilla extract. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

To make the nazook, preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges.
From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf. 

Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).  Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush. Cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with other quarters of dough and filling.  Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.

 Armenian Nutmeg Cake
1 cup (240 ml) milk (I used almond)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) baking powder
2 cups (480 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) butter, preferably unsalted, cubed

1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons (5 to 7 ½ ml) (5 to 8 gm) ground nutmeg (try to grate it fresh yourself; the aroma is enchanting)
1 egg

An Even Easier Way...if you have a Food Processor
Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4 .  Mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside.  Put the flour, baking powder, and the brown sugar into your food processor. Pulse until uniformly mixed.  Toss in the cubed butter. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan-colored crumbs. Pour HALF of the crumbs into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.

  Crack the egg into the food processor with the rest of the crumbs still in it. Grate 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Toss that into the food processor, too. Pulse until well-incorporated. Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.  Bake in a preheated moderate oven for 30-40 minutes. It's ready when the top is golden brown, and when it passes the toothpick test (comes out clean).  Cool the cake in the pan, and enjoy!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Retreat and Caramel Cake

Whew!  We just got back from the pediatric department spring retreat.  It is a fun weekend of being away from the hospital, hanging out with each other, door prizes, etc....except that this year I was one of the people in charge of planning, purchasing, facilitating, and telling all the residents about the new things that are (possibly) happening next year.  I think it was a success but am glad that it is done.  Also done is the schedule for the 2012-2013 year for 47 took about 12 hours but we finished it in a day.  ALL of that to explain why there has been a lack of posting this past week or so!  I have been cooking, though.  Today, however, I wanted to share the recipe for the birthday cake that D made for addition to the cake he made to take to Sunday school on my birthday.  He did LOTS of research!  I think he would have made strawberry but I had just made this one for Sarah a few weeks before.  I told him no chocolate and he complied...with a caramel (!!!!) cake! 
It was delicious!  I went to his house on my birthday and we had a yummy dinner of grilled salmon and squash.  Then followed with homemade yellow cake with caramel icing and ice cream...then presents, which K helped me open! 
I was COMPLETELY spoiled!  D said he wasn't sure if he cooked the icing long enough and we both decided (after having another caramel cake somewhere else) that he could have cooked it longer but that it was still GREAT!  Here's a very belated thank you for a great birthday!  :-)

30 minute Yellow Cake from Southern Hospitality Cookbook
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl until blended.  Spray a 13X9 pan with cooking spray.  Pour batter into prepared pan and "bake until done."  I'm assuming about 30 minutes based on the title of the cake but I would check around 25 minutes and test with a cake tester or knife.  Cook until it comes out clean!

Caramel Frosting
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sugar and salt, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Add milk and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Cook longer if you want a richer caramel.  Remove from the heat and cool.  Pour mixture into a mixing bowl then add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Stir on low to moisten then blend on high for 2 minutes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ever wonder what you could do with your cast iron skillet?  There is the traditional use for cornbread.  Or you could go all Tangled and use it as a weapon.  OR you could make this recipe. 
It would be something you could make on the trail should you ever move cross country in a covered wagon, go camping, or just want to try a fun new recipe!  D loves chocolate and I figured this would be a hit.  Saw the recipe on Jenna's site.  The only thing I didn't do was add the salt, though I know it would be a great addition!  My cast iron pan was smaller than the one called for in the recipe, so I made some mini muffin cookies as well...some of the tops came off and looked like regular cookies.
  One of the interns on D's team had a birthday on one of their weekend calls, so I made this for his birthday and took it up there with dinner...though I must admit that seeing D was another reason I may have gone.  :-)
 Robert enjoyed the cookie.  D's response...."Mmmm, this is GOOD!"  I think I may have to make this one again!

Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie from Jenna at Eat, Live, Run

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (plus more for sprinkling)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 and grease a ten inch cast iron skillet (I think mine is 8-inch) with cooking spray.  Cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs one by one—beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Add dry ingredients (I'm a bad baker and rarely whisk them together in a separate bowl...less dirty dishes the better!) and blend lightly. Add the chocolate chips and stir into dough. 
Press the cookie dough down into your greased skillet evenly and smooth the top with your hand.  If you have a smaller skillet, use the leftover dough to make mini cookies. Bake for 45 minutes until very puffy and golden. Enjoy!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Roast and Eggs

Christ is risen!  Happy Easter!  I hope everyone had a good weekend.  Mine was GREAT!  My parents came down on Thursday and stayed through Sunday.  I kept K overnight Thursday and on Friday since D was on call and daycare closed on Friday.  We had a good time making cookies and at the park. 

She finally got to meet my dad and has seemed to really hit it off with both my parents.  Friday we went to Pizza Shack for dinner with Joanie and Bruce. 
 Then Saturday, mama and I did some shopping the got K for the afternoon.  We had Easter dinner Saturday night with Philip, Kenna, D, and K.  We didn't do the traditional ham but daddy cooked a roast.  Turned out pretty good and is really simple to make.  That afternoon we dyed eggs with K. 
 She had lots of fun.  Made single color ones with D then did some double colored eggs with Daddy a.k.a. Doc! 

Dyeing eggs is really fun but doing it with a 2year old is a bit trying....and messy!   Oh, well.  Definitely a fun memory and a tradition that will have to continue. :-) 

One of the reasons we did roast was because K really enjoys it.  However, she missed her nap on Saturday and fell asleep mid bite at dinner!  Sent some leftovers home with D, so hopefully she'll get to enjoy her roast!

Eye Round Roast
eye round roast - I think ours was about 5 pounds
1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
1/2 envelope French onion soup mix, dry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil well.  This provides easy cleaning and foil to cover the roast. Place roast in a roasting pan.  Season with salt and pepper "to taste" - though you won't REALLY taste it, just imagine how much you need!  Sprinkle half a pack (or a whole pack based on how much you think you'll need) onion soup mix on top of the roast and "pat" it into the meat. 

Mix together the soup and some water.  Pour around the roast.  This provides moisture and flavor.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Place pan in over and cook for 3 hours.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly so the juices will set.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Park and Nachos

A couple of weeks ago we had some really pretty weather.  Actually, we've had several weeks of really pretty weather, I just haven't been able to enjoy it due to my rotation.

 However, this time, I met K and D at the park and we played for a little before going to D's house for supper.  I knew there was some precooked and cubed chicken in his refrigerator, so I suggested chicken nachos.  His response..."Ooo, what are chicken nachos?"  My response..."I don't know, I'd just make it up!"  :-)  We had fun at the park.  K enjoyed the swings and running up the grassy stairs. 

Then when we got to the house, I made dinner.  Just mixed together some of the cubed grilled chicken, a can of black beans, and a can of rotel tomatoes. 

Then I put a layer of tortilla chips on the pan, topped it with the bean mixture and then cheese.  Cook until cheese melts and enjoy.  D said "Mmmm. Like what you'd get in a restaurant."  Nice!  K picked the beans off...I'll take that.

  I had a couple and then topped my salad with the chicken/bean mixture.  YUM!  A good meal for all.

Chicken Nachos
1 package Tyson cubed, grilled chicken (no compensation made for this...hehe!)
1 can black beans
1 can rotel tomatoes
tortilla chips (about 1/3 cup)
cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional)
salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a layer of tortilla chips on the pan.  In a bowl mix together then cubed chicken, black beans, and rotel tomatoes.  Top the chips with this mixture.  Then sprinkle this with cheddar cheese.  Place pan in oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese melts.  Remove from oven and enjoy!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Treat Bars

I first made this treat last year...but then my hard drive crashed and I lost the picture.  So, I had to make it again!  I think I made it right before my birthday...just because I wanted to. 

The next morning they were all gone.  This is a simple treat made with granola, peanut butter, and butterscotch.  It would be a great treat to make with the kiddos.

 Once again, this is from the wonderful book from Southern Living.  I'm nearly finished with all the I'm down to the ones that I didn't want to try as much! :-)  But try this one for sure...easy and yummy!

Triple Treat Bars from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
2 cups butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 cups granola
1 1/2 cups M&M's

Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray then line with waxed paper.  Melt butterscotch chips and peanut butter.  You can do this in a saucepan over low heat or slowly in a microwave, starting with 1 minute and stirring then 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until morsels melt.  Combine the granola and M&M's in a large bowl.  Pour the butterscotch mixture over them and stir.  Spread this into the prepared pan and place pan in the refrigerator.  Chill until firm.  Remove and cut into bars.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Itzy's Waffles

One of D's and my favorite things to do for a random, unplanned supper is breakfast.  We've done pancakes, French toast, and eggs several times. I saw this recipe for waffles one day at Itzy's Kitchen and it looked really good. 
So, a month or so ago when I think one of us was post call we both said that waffles sounded good. When I was getting the ingredients together, I realized that you needed to let the batter sit for a bit, which my dad has done with his waffles in the past. 

So, I made the batter before I left my apartment for D's house.  It really was the perfect amount of time.  These waffles were SOOOO good! 

I got 5 waffles out of it, despite overloading one side and have a bit of spillage!  The cinnamon flavor was perfect and there was a bit of crunch but the waffles were still soft.  K actually ate a pretty good bit of hers.

  We used syrup and strawberries for toppings.  I will definitely use this recipe again.  Thanks for a great waffle, Itzy! 

Cinnamon Yogurt Waffles from Itzy's Kitchen
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the milk, yogurt, oil, egg, sugar, and vanilla and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture rest on your counter for 30 minutes (I made mine in a bowl that had a top for ease of transport). Preheat your waffle iron when your batter is ready to use.  After the iron has heated, spray your waffle iron with non stick spray. Divide batter evenly over the iron, careful to not overfill.  Cook according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Enjoy!