Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cider Slider Buns

I've been thinking a lot about the menu for my annual New Year's Eve party.  Every year the food gets a little fancier and requires a little more work.  This year, I think one of the things I'm going to do is pulled-pork sliders.  And I'm going to make all of the slider buns myself.  Since I've never made sandwich buns before, I figured I better experiment beforehand...
I have made bread many times, but always with water for the liquid, and it always comes out denser than I like for sandwiches. 

Yesterday, I tried out this recipe for homemade hamburger buns from Williams-Sonoma.  They came out pretty tasty.  I cut the recipe in half, and ended up with 8 buns that were somewhere between slider size and hamburger size.  

They tasted good with the sloppy joe's I made for supper last night, 
and with the tuna salad I made for lunch today.

So that is definitely a recipe I can use for my New Year's Eve menu.  However, it is not my recipe.  It belongs to Williams-Sonoma.  So of course, I had to do something to make it mine.  

Today, I substituted apple cider for the milk, and bacon grease for the butter.  Now, it's my recipe. 
Since I had absolutely no idea how this would turn out, I cut yesterday's recipe in half, and made 4 buns. 
So, if you want more than four small buns...double or triple this recipe.

Cider Slider Buns

3/8 c apple cider
2 tbs  bacon grease
1 1/8 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tbs sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c wheat flour
3/4 c flour

Put the cider and grease in a small saucepan and stir on medium heat just until the grease has melted.  Remove from heat, add yeast and sugar, stir.  I'm too lazy to wait for the yeast to proof...but you can if you want.  Add the salt and flour, stir to combine, knead til smooth.  Cover and let rise for an hour or two.  Divide into buns, put them on a baking tray, and let them rise again.  (Mine didn't really rise the second time...but they came out fine in the end so I don't think it matters.)

Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.

They are tasty.  They definitely won't go with everything...but I think they will go well with my cider pulled-pork.  I'll make some regular buns as well though, in case some people are scared of cider-bacon buns.  

In other news...I just realized this is my 200th post!  I've had this blog for 20 months, and posted 200 times. I feel like I should have done something extra-super-special.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cinnamon Buns 3

1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1+ tsp cinnamon
1/2 c wheat flour
3/4 c flour
3/4 c heavy cream
2 tbsp pumpkin

Mix everything together.  Roll the dough out on a floured surface. Spread some cream and pumpkin on top of the dough, then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll up the dough and slice into 1 1/2 inch pieces.  Place in a baking pan and bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and smother with a glaze.
(pumpkin, apple cider, confectioners sugar)

Breakfast is served. 
(I found bacon in my fridge...Merry Christmas to me!)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas!  
This is my 2nd Christmas in my apt, but I never got around to getting a tree last year.  This year I finally got around to buying a tree, but my plan to be crafty and make lots of ornaments for it feel through...I didn't make any.  But I found some things lying around and had a few ornaments that people have given me over the years, so the tree isn't completely bare.  And I bought one garland of tinsel. 

I've been spending my vacation on the couch relaxing and in the kitchen concocting.  (With occasional breaks to go for a run or spend time with friends of course.)

I put a stool in my kitchen last night and enjoyed multi-tasking at its finest.

I was making the filling for Guinness-Jameson truffles and didn't want to just stand there stirring.  Sitting and reading while stirring made the time go by much faster. 

1 c Guinness
1/4 c Jameson
5-7 oz dark chocolate
1 tsp of cinnamon

I put 3.5 oz of chocolate in the filling last night, but when I took it out of the fridge to make truffles this morning I discovered it was MUCH too soft to coat with melted chocolate.  So the chocolate I had melted to be the coating ended up getting mixed into the ganache and stuck in the fridge to reset.  I eventually got to coat those truffles...

A dash of cinnamon on top and...done!

Today I also made peppermint bark. 

Some plain-looking bark.

 And some artistic-looking bark.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

I just realized that I didn't write down any of the amounts I used for this recipe, because at the time I thought I would be posting it to the blog within a day or two.  It has been at least 5 days now...but hopefully I can remember!

Melt 1/2 c crunchy peanut butter with 1/2 c heavy cream.  
*The heavy cream is the only amount I'm having trouble remembering may have been 1/4 cup...

Stir stir stir.

Add the chocolate.

Stir stir stir some more.

Scoop the mess into a bowl and refrigerate. 
(2 hours should be sufficient, I let mine sit over night)

It was pretty hard when I took it out of the fridge.  It took some muscle to scoop chunks out with a melon baller, and I had to use my fingers to work it into shapes that looked remotely like balls.  It was way too much work to try to get them perfectly round, so I just tried to get them into something bite-sized.

Melt some chocolate, dunk & coat the truffles, let them set in the fridge. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pumpkin-Cheesecake Truffles

Step 1: Make a pumpkin cheesecake.  (This time I omitted the chocolate chips and the crust.)

Step 2: Melt some dark chocolate.  I believe I used 80% cocoa.  

Step 3: Use a melon-baller to scoop out chunks of cheesecake, then use your fingers to roll them into balls.  Drop the balls into the melted chocolate and use a fork to turn them and coat them.  Place them on tin foil or wax paper to harden in the fridge.  

I also made some with milk chocolate, but I had a very hard time getting the coating to work.  The milk chocolate I had didn't melt like the dark chocolate did.  I ended up adding heavy cream to it in an attempt to make it more liquid.  The final result was rather lumpy, but it worked. 

I brought the truffles to the Christmas staff party for my school.  The dark chocolate ones were definitely the favorite.  The hard/bitter outside was a great complement to the soft/sweet inside.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pumpkin Lasagna

I made pumpkin ravioli with a friend a few nights ago and had a lot of ricotta left over.  I don't normally buy ricotta, and couldn't think of anything to do with it other than lasagna.  The pumpkin ravioli were pretty good so I decided to try a pumpkin lasagna.  I think it is my new favorite lasagna. 

Pumpkin Lasagna

c. 14 oz ricotta cheese
c. 3/4 c pumpkin
3/4 c water
15 oz alfedo sauce
9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 egg
2 handfuls shredded colby-jack cheese
fresh spinach

Combine the pumpkin, ricotta, egg, sage, and basil in one container.  Combine the water, alfredo, and cheese in a second container.  

Pour a thin layer of the sauce mixture in the bottom of a glass baking dish.  Lay down 3 lasagna noodles.  Cover them with another thin layer of sauce, then cover them with spinach.  Spread some of the pumpkin mixture on top of the spinach.  Lay down 3 more noodles.  Cover with sauce, spinach, and pumpkin.  Lay down the remaining 3 noodles, and cover with sauce.  Cover with a double layer of foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour. 

Eat. Enjoy.
(I enjoyed mine with a pork-chop that I 
sprinkled with onion, garlic, and sage powders and cooked in bacon grease.)

I'm not a huge ricotta cheese or lasagna fan but this one was really, really, yummy.  
Culinary success.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Truffles:Round 2

I made another 16 truffles tonight from the batch of filling I made a week ago. (blog post here)

The filling was made with Guinness and a 70% cocoa chocolate bar.  I tried 2 different thing for the coating on today's truffles.   I tried covering some with melted butterscotch chips, which didn't work out quite so well.  The rest I covered with a 60% cocoa bar and dusted with cinnamon.  

The butterscotch truffles are kinda lumpy...

The cinnamon truffles look (and taste) delicious though!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sweet Potato Cannelloni

Pulled-pork filled Sweet Potato Cannelloni

adapted from this recipe at Fifteen Spatulas

Slice a Sweet Potato as thinly as you can. (They should be thin enough to 

bend a bit without breaking) I'm pretty proud of my knife skills tonight...the 

Website I got the recipe from said you need a mandolin to get the slices 

thin enough.  I used my French Chef Knife.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and then drop in your sweet potato slices. Boil them for 3-5 minutes.  You want them to be flexible, but not so soft that they break.  When you think they are done, remove them from the water and lay them out to cool/dry.

For my filling, I used some pulled-pork* salad that I made with some of the  I made last weekend: Pulled Pork, Granny Smith Apple, Mayo, Avocado.  

*1+ pound pork tenderloin, flour/cinnamon rub, 1/2 bottle raspberry wheat Shocktop Beer, c. 2 cups apple cider, and some Jack Daniel's Honey Smokehouse BBQ sauce

When the sweet potato slices are cool, spoon some pork salad onto a slice and carefully wrap it, placing it seam-side down on a plate.

My cannelloni looked so small and lonely on the plate, so I also made up a pasta dish to go with them.

I sauteed sweet potato slices and mushrooms, boiled some rotini, heated up some pulled pork, and made gravy out of the liquid I saved from the crock pot when I made the pulled pork.  Mixed it all together, and had a tasty pasta dish to go with my cannelloni.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Guinness-Rosemary Chocolate Truffles

Guinness-Rosemary Chocolate Truffles

Recipe adapted from the Beeroness
A lovely blog with lots of delicious and beer-filled recipes.  


1 c Guinness
7 oz chocolate, 70% cocoa
1.75* oz. chocolate, 85% cocoa
crushed rosemary

*I only made 13 truffles today.  The 1.75 oz was a bit more than I needed for 13.  I would say there is enough filling chocolate left for another 13 or so.  So if you are making all your truffles at once, try 3.5 oz.


Boil the Guinness until it is reduced to about 1/2 c. Remove from heat and add the 7 oz of 70 chocolate.  Stir until melted.  Pour into a bowl, let cool on the counter for a bit and then cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.  It probably only needs to chill for a couple of hours, but I chilled mine overnight.

Use a melon-baller to scoop out chunks of the chocolate and then use your hands to roll them into balls.  This is a very messy step.  I had no idea my hands were so warm...but the chocolate was melting and making a big mess.  I ended up making about 13 truffles and then putting the rest of the chocolate back in the fridge to re-chill.  I'll make the rest of the truffles some other day.  

Melt the 1.75 oz. of 85 chocolate in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir until completely melted.  Dunk the truffles in, one at a time, and use a fork to turn them/get them evenly coated/fish them out and lay them on wax paper.  Sprinkle the truffles with some crushed rosemary.  Or anything that your heart desires, really.  
I'm sure some of the truffles I make will be coated in bacon bits.  

Chill in the fridge.  
You're welcome.

I had some coating chocolate left over so I poured it over my last slice of pumpkin cheesecake.

As a disclaimer...if you don't like dark chocolate, you WILL NOT like these truffles.  They are a bit bitter.  Try some chocolate with less than 70% cocoa if you aren't a milk-chocolate hater like me.