Monday, December 15, 2014

"Amish" Snickerdoodles

For this year's Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I wanted to incorporate the Amish Friendship Bread Starter and surprisingly, there are many cookie recipes that use the starter! The one that stood out to me in the long list of recipes were Snickerdoodles. I love Snickerdoodles and I don't make them often enough. The cinnamon-y goodness is one that is welcome at any time of the year. I decided not to mess with the recipe and stick with a traditional Snickerdoodle taste (besides the fact that I used the starter).

"Amish" Snickerdoodles

For the ones above, I baked them on the top rack and for the ones below, I baked on the bottom rack.

"Amish" Snickerdoodles

It's really weird how the two batches yielded different results despite being from the same recipe. The ones on the bottom ended up a little burnt on the bottom so I didn't send those out. The bottom ones had a thicker and more cake-like texture compared to the others but both were still delicious. I didn't quite get 60 from the recipe as the original states but I still got quite a bit. I would say about 4 dozen.

Ready for delivery

I am so glad I got to participate in the Cookie Swap again. This is the part I love about baking: sharing! I get to share a lot of my baking and cooking with other people in my life all the time, but this is even more special because I get to put a smile on a complete stranger's face. Who doesn't love getting cookies in the mail?! I loved writing a message to each one of my matches, choosing the containers for the cookies, and wrapping them, hoping at every moment that the presentation and results would be good enough for my matches. I know when I received each of my 3 cookie packages, I got really excited. My eyes widened as I opened my mailbox and I had obsessively checked my mail every day to see if I had gotten another one yet. And I normally check my mail once a week! (Yeah, I'm popular.) Here are the lovely cookies that I received from my three matches:

Glazed Butter Cookies from KoKo at KoKo Likes - these melt in your mouth! I love the gold specks too.

Gold-Speckled Glazed Butter Cookies

Caramel Studded Snickerdoodles from Renee of Awesome on 20 - great minds think alike! I love Snickerdoodles! What a cool twist too with caramel. I have never thought to mess with the classic but this is great.

Caramel Studded Snickerdoodles

Pina Colada Cookies from Andrea at Recipes for Divine Living. Love the tropical twist!

Pina Colada Cookies

Hope you think about joining next year if you have a food blog yourself! I can't wait for another round of baking and sharing in 2015.

"Amish" Snickerdoodles
Adapted from Friendship Bread Kitchen

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).

In a large mixing bowl, add in wet ingredients. Mix in rest of ingredients except the last sugar and cinnamon.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Add more sugar or cinnamon depending on your preferences.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. The dough will be a little sticky! Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place them 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Apple Pie

Last month, I went apple picking at a local family farm called Chiles Peach Orchard. I love this place because the prices aren't bad, the fruits are plentiful and delicious, the people are friendly, and I get to eat at Blue Mountain Brewery for lunch every time I go fruit picking. I have picked their cherries, strawberries, and peaches as well and they have all been worth the trip so when I saw that they had Fuji apples available, I wanted to go again before the place closed for the season. It was in the 40s temperature-wise but I had my gloves on so I managed to get myself at least 30 pounds of apples! What do you do with all that?! Make pies, of course.

Apple Pie

I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe and had to adapt the spices because I am not a fan of allspice and it was a little overpowering. Smitten Kitchen suggested doubling the spices, but I was actually okay with the original amount. I liked letting the flavors of the apple come through instead with just a hint of the spices. I didn't use the crust recipe that she provided in the same post and I decided to change it up in terms of the design as well! I bought a leaf cookie cutter on Amazon, stamped out leaf-shaped pieces from the pie crust, and layered them on top of the pie. It actually turned out better than I thought and people were impressed! I saw the idea on Pinterest while just browsing around and I'm glad I decided to give it a try.

In addition to making four pies (only one was for myself!), I also snacked on the apples every day and shared some with coworkers and friends. But guess what...I still have lots of apples left! They are surprisingly staying in good shape in the fridge so I am still snacking and adding them in my oatmeal in the mornings sometimes. I just got a box of oranges from my school's FFA as well so I think I'm good on fruits for a while!

Apple Pie

Drop a scoop of ice cream on this slice of warm apple pie. Mm mm good.

Apple Pie
Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

4 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 7 or 8 medium apples)
1 tbsp juice and 1 tsp zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cup (5.25 oz) plus 1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 425°F. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).

Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.

Peel, core and cut apples in half, and in half again width-wise; cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.

Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch disk and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Amish" Dinner Rolls

Have you ever been to Logan's Roadhouse? The one here in town is right next to a movie theater so one time, my boyfriend and I ate dinner there before going to see a movie. He claimed that the rolls were really good because they're so light and fluffy and big and I agreed with him the first time I ate there. Then the second time around, things weren't so great. I remember being pretty disappointed with all of the food that night, including the famous rolls! Well, here's a rolls recipe that will NOT disappoint you for sure.

"Amish" Dinner Rolls

These are also light and fluffy and a little sweet. I didn't brush butter on top of these but I think they taste better than any restaurant roll that I've ever tasted. It's also easy to make. The recipe says it makes 24 rolls but I made 20. If I had known that they were going to rise this much, I would've made even more rolls out of one batch. One roll about almost 2 inches tall and 5 inches across. The sizes are varying but that's the great thing about homemade anything. Each roll unique in its own way. I would like to try making this again with half whole wheat flour and half bread flour as one commenter did but just bread flour was delicious. The dough may seem too sticky to work with after the first kneading but after it rises and you are kneading it a second time but this time on a floured surface, it is easy and smooth to work with.

These rolls would be great to have for dinner with some soup or a nice pasta dish. They are also great for holiday dinners such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. Make these and take them to your next family gathering. It is sure to be a hit!

"Amish" Dinner Rolls
From Friendship Bread Kitchen

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey (or sugar)
1 tsp yeast
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp vital wheat gluten (omit if using bread flour)
About 6 cups whole wheat flour (or bread flour)

In a stand mixer bowl, stir together warm water, honey, and yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Next, add starter, oil, eggs, salt, wheat gluten, and 4 cups of the flour and mix. Gradually add remaining flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. While dough is in the mixing bowl, knead for about 8 to 10 minutes. By the time the kneading is over, the sides of the bowl should be clean.

Oil bottom and sides of a large bowl. Put dough into bowl and cover. (Let rise in the mixer bowl.) Let dough stand about three hours (or until doubled) at room temperature.

Finally, punch dough down and divide into three equal balls. On a floured surface, knead each ball. After kneading each ball, pat out until about ½-inch thick. Grease a large cookie sheet. Use pizza cutter to cut out in rectangular shapes and place on greased cookie sheet to continue the rise. Cover and let stand about two hours or until risen.

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Bake 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Amish" Sourdough Bread

Ever since I got my bread machine this past Christmas, I have been buying less bread. I shouldn't have to buy it at all but some weekends I am out of town and I still need bread for the week. I have a couple recipes that I love and make frequently with my machine as my daily sandwich bread. I want to branch out though and try making bread in my baking pans instead of the machine. For some reason, I don't really like the shape that my bread machine makes (I know, I'm weird and picky) but I do like the shape that my baking pans make so I thought I'd give this recipe a try.

Amish Sourdough Bread

Amish Sourdough Bread

I'm not a huge fan of sourdough bread so why did I even bother to make this recipe? Take a wild guess... Yeah, it uses the starter but I also read in the comments that the sugar in the recipe lessens the tartness, so I thought I might actually enjoy this one and guess what, I do love this bread. I can barely taste the sourness so the sweetness does cut it out. If it's too sweet for your daily sandwich bread, then I would suggest possibly cutting it in half. But this bread is soft, sweet, and delicious. Grilled cheese with this bread smells and tastes amazing so I'd imagine that french toast with this would be just as amazing. I'll have to give that a shot this weekend! I'm so glad in many ways that this starter has come into my life.

Just as a note for this recipe, somebody mentioned that starting to make this bread the day they fed the starter did not work out too well so they waited a day so that's what I did. The day after feeding, I put all the ingredients together and kneaded it just a little bit so it would come together and let it rise for two nights. It hadn't risen at all the first night so I gave it another night. Then I split the dough into two baking pans and let that rise overnight and they were definitely ready to bake by the next morning. Once in the pans, it doesn't take as long to rise as the first time. The website also does not provide a time so I just kept an eye on it but I'm gonna say that it was in the oven for about 40 minutes, maybe a little more. Enjoy!

"Amish" Sourdough Bread
From Friendship Bread Kitchen

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
6 cups bread flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn oil
1 1/2 cups very warm water

Put all ingredients in a very large bowl and mix until batter is stiff.

Oil hands with corn oil and knead dough into a mound. Add extra oil to the bowl, cover and let rise over night or until the dough has risen to fill up the bowl.

Remove dough from bowl and knead.

Lightly oil 2 or 3 loaf pans. Cut dough into even pieces and place in the loaf pans. Let dough rise again all day or night.

When ready to bake, preheat and bake at 325° F (165° C) until golden brown.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Split Pea Soup

Where did fall go? Winter has taken over this month in full force for us Virginians. Temperatures in the low 40s during the day and 20s during the night. Flurries here and there, even school delays and closures for some counties! It's crazy. I really should be careful what I wish for this winter... I had said I wanted lots of snow days this winter, so much so that the governor would have to excuse all schools or whatever it is he does, but I guess I forgot how such cold temperatures feel when I have to be in it. For now, I will stay in the comfort of my nice, warm home with some of this nice, warm soup. It's definitely time to pull out my Dutch oven and my slow cooker for warm soup belly.

Split Pea Soup

I love thick soups but have always found them difficult to make them just like the restaurants do. I have yet to find a good potato soup recipe or a chowder (so if you've got one, please share!). I have, however, found the perfect split pea soup recipe. Simple ingredients but still thick and chock full of flavor. I had posted a vegetarian version of this soup before but I realized that the bacon and the ham hock add so much flavor that I had to make it this way all the time. The meat pieces are great to bite into. You don't need a lot - just a handful to get a piece with every other spoonful. I unfortunately can't remember where I got this recipe from, so if this looks familiar to you, please let me know the source! I'd like to give credit where credit is due for such a wonderful soup.

Split Pea Soup

1 ham hock
1/2 cup ham chunks
1/2 lb split peas
8 cups chicken broth
2 slices bacon
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped

In a large pot, place split peas, chicken broth, bacon, and ham hock. Bring to a boil and skin off froth. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. When ready, remove the ham hock. Bring back to a boil and put in all the vegetables. Reduce heat and simmer again for 15 minutes. Add ham chunks and cook for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove the bacon and meat. Puree the soup and return the meat to reheat. Serve and enjoy!