Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Soften Butter Quickly

When a recipe calls for softened butter, the best thing to do is let it sit out at room temperature for an hour to an hour and a half.

But things happen to cause you to forget (or last minute recipe decisions) to take the butter out of the fridge ahead of time.

There is a quick way to soften up your butter without the microwave. Microwaves are not the best method, they tend to melt part of the butter or completely if you are not careful. Setting the power percentage lower does help a little bit though.

Here is an alternative solution.

Take the designated amount of butter out of the fridge and unwrap it but leave it on the wrapper.

Take a knife and cut it into little cubes. Doing so allows the heat from the air to warm it faster.

Then place it in a mixer bowl (a stand mixer is the best choice for this), and use the paddle attachement and beat the ever loving crap out of it.

Set it on a medium high setting to really beat it to a smooth texture. Continue to beat for at least a minute after it becomes smooth. Longer if it's still lumpy.

And now your butter is softened and will mix easily with the rest of your ingriedents and should be clump free.

It's very simple and easy to do, really takes no time at all.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

One Eyed Jacks

One of my husband's favorite breakfast foods is a combination of a slice of bread and a fried egg.
I don't really have to ask him what to make for breakfast anymore. I know that he will eat it.
In fact, he gave me the recipe, he originally had them when he went camping in Boy Scouts.

It's a quick and light breakfast.

One Eyed Jacks

one or more slices of bread
one or more eggs
  1. Cut a hole in the center of a piece of bread. Try to not cut the edges. This acts as a barrier so the egg doesn't run all over the pan. Do not throw away the bread disks, you can use those as toast on the side.
  2. Preheat a large skillet on medium heat. Lightly spray the pan before you place the bread in the hot pan. You can also place the disks in the pan to toast them.
  3. Next crack the egg over the hole in the bread. Cook on one side for one minute, then carefully flip over with a large spatula. You can cook the eggs to your liking. These are cooked to be over easy.
Then transfer the one eyed jacks to a plate and you are done!

I usually cook for sausage patties or bacon to eat along with it.

I used my trusty biscuit cutter to make the holes. I bought it at a restaurant wholesale store.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spritz Cookies

It's that time of year again. Christmas cookie time! But I make cookies all year round anyway.

Spritz cookies are one of the more popular holiday cookies. They are made with a cookie press. You fill a press with some dough and squeeze! (not quite, but close enough)

A couple of years ago I got an electric cookie press from my mom. I remember she had one when I was growing up, it was the kind that you turned like a water hose spicket. It would press down the dough and squeeze out the bottom through a metal plate with holes in it.

It is my pretty pink cookie press. It plugs in and you squeeze the the silver tab and that's it! Pretty easy.

I used these four plates. The dough is very stiff, so I just tore it in to chunks and put it in the press. You reattach the tube and squeeze the trigger and the presser foot thing rotates down and pushes the dough out through the holes.

Reminds me of a Play-Doh press I always wanted as a kid.

Enough of the cookie press lesson, now on to the recipe!!

Spritz Cookies

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.

Next in a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then, add the egg, milk, vanilla, and almond extract, mix well.

Lastly, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat until a smooth stiff dough forms.

Fill the cookie press with the dough, use with the desired plates, press cookies onto a cookie sheet, ungreased or parchment papered or baking mat. (with the electric press, I hold down the trigger for 3 seconds, and hold to two seconds before I pull it away)

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown.

Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet then move to a cooling rack.

Another thing about cookie presses is that you have to play around with the timing. Too little time and barely any dough comes out to the desired shape. Too long of a time and way too much dough comes out and the shape is very distorted. So just play around with it until you find what's right.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mini Beef Rolls

My husband told me about these Mini Beef rolls and bought the ingredients. Super easy to make if you are running low on time.

These look and taste pretty good.


All you need is:

  • sliced roast beef deli meat
  • a can (or maybe it's called a tube) of croissants rolls
  • sticks of string cheese

Take four pieces of string cheese and cut them in half (to fit in the roll without it poking out the sides). Then cut each of those half pieces in half the long way. Now you have four long pieces that fit nicey inside the roll.

Next, roll out the croissants and take two pieces of roast beef for each. Lay out one piece flat and roll up a cheese slice in it.

Take the other piece of beef and fold it in half, laying it on top of the flat croissant.

Place another piece of cheese on the wide part of the croissant. Lay the rolled piece of beef next to it and start to roll the croissant up with the meat and cheese in the middle.

Follow the directs on the croissant roll packaging for baking time and temperatures.

Serves 8

And you're done!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Homemade Nutter Butter Cookies

I use to eat these as a kid. But they were a special treat, my mom didn't really ever buy junk food for us.


I like peanut butter cookies so I thought that these would be super soft and yummy. I'm not a chocolate fan, so I would pick a peanut butter cookie over chocolate chip any day!

I saw a recipe on Pintrest and thought that they would be super easy to make. To a novice, they are fairly simple, there is just more steps to follow.

The peanut butter filling is the pretty much frosting, so it's nice and easy to make. It took me a couple of hours to make everything (chill time, baking time etc..).

I took loads of photos so following along should be nice and simple. So, now on to the baking!


Nutter Butter Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup peanut butter (I used natural, no additives)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed lightly

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspon baking powder

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar (for the top of the cookies)

Start by creaming the butter in a mixing bowl, then add the peanut butter. By creaming the butter first, you are making sure that there are no clumps of butter. Add the sugars and mix until fluffy.

Next, add the eggs and vanilla, beat until well combined.

In a sperarate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients (minus the extra 1/3 cup sugar). Then a little at a time, pour into the moist mixture, mix until nice and fluffy.

Place plastic wrap over the bowl and place in the refrigerator for one hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling.


1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup peanut butter

4 cups powdered sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons milk


Begin by creaming the butter like you did with the cookies, then add the peanut butter. Beat until smooth.

Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time so there will be little to no mess.

Add the milk a tablespoon at a time, or until desired consistency is reached.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and start scooping out 1 inch diameter balls and rolling them into about three inch long logs.

Take a fork and place in sugar to start making the cross hatching on both ends of the logs.

Then pinch the middles inward to form the peanut shape.

Place in oven for 6 to 8 minutes. (oven temps may vary)

Let cookies cool for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

Wait until cookies are completely cooled before you start applying the filling.

The final step to these wonderfully tasty cookies is the filling. You can simply spread the fillingon the underside of one cookie with a knife or spatula, then place another cookie on top, creating a sandwich!

Or, you can be all fancy and use a pastry bag and large tip and pipe out the filling.

And that's it, you're done!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Graham Cracker Crumbs with out a Food Processor

I was making a recipe that called for graham cracker crumbs from a box. I had hole graham crackers, but no crumbs.


This is an easy fix. It is very easy to throw the crackers in a food processor then turn it on and let it do it's job.

Or, you can crush them yourself. It just takes a little elbow grease.


All you need is:

  • rolling pin
  • plastic sealable sandwich bag (the large the better, if you're making a lot)
  • whole graham crackers

Place the crackers in the baggie and as you seal it push all the air out of it. This part is important, the extra air in there will make it more difficult and take longer to crush.

Once that is done you can start to crush the crackers with your hands and as the pieces become smaller, use the rolling pin by rolling it back and forth.

Use short movements and apply moderate to hard pressure.

Keep on doing this untl the crumbs are fine granules.

And now you are done! nice and simple! Looks pretty much like they can pre-crushed.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Beef Pocket

There is a pizzeria that we use to live by that made fantastic beef pockets. Sadly they don't delivery 45 minutes away.  :(

But the recipe that I threw together could quite possibly be better then the pizzeria.

It's fairly simple, the crust is homemade, thick and tender and a crunchy outer shell.
The beef filling I use is Papa Charlie's Italian beef (that stuff is SOOO good).

If you are an experienced baker, this crust recipe is a classic and you pretty much know what expect. But if you are new to the whole bake it yourself, I'll go step by step. It really is pretty easy, especially if you you have a stand mixer (Kitchen Aid).

Pizza Crust Dough


3 to 3 1/4 cups flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup hot water (120 degrees to 130 degrees)
2 tbsp. cooking oil
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. 

Add water and oil.

Mix with dough attachment or by hand until it is stiff and smooth and elastic. 

Place in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap to rest for an hour, or until double in size (if just crust for pizza, divide dough in two halves)

Place in a warm area, the counter should be fine, just away form cool or cold drafts. I placed mine in the sun to act as a proofer*.

Once the dough is doubled in size, roll out on a floured surface with a rolling pin to a desired size** (about twice the size of your baking pan).

While you are prepping the dough, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Next take a fork and poke holes into it. This is called docking the dough, perforated holes like the ones you see on saltine crackers.
Let it rest for 5 minutes.

Now it is ready for the filling.

*A warm and moist area (usually a box) that the dough sits in and helps it to rise quicker. The plastic wrap locks in the moisture so the dough doesn't dry out and get a crust on it while it rises.

**If you want to make just a regular pizza, about 13 inches is ideal for both crusts. Or, you don't have to divide the dough and you can make it a thick crust.

Beef pocket


1 1/2 pounds of Italian beef in juice
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
          or an Italian cheese mix, shredded
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Pizza crust (see above recipe)

I used Papa Charlie's Italian Beef that you buy frozen at the super market. Let it thaw to room temp or thaw in the fridge. Separate the juice in another container (you will use this as the dipping juice).

Add the beef and the cheese to one side of the pocket.

Moisten the edge (on the filling side) with milk at least 1 inch width.

Next, fold the empty half over the filling and pinch and fold the ends to lock in the insides.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Brush the top of the crust with milk and sprinkle the cheese mix on top evenly.

Cover the crust with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, about 10 minutes prior to being done, remove the foil to get a nice golden brown finish.

The last 5 minutes it's in the oven, place the juice in a medium sauce pan and heat on low until hot.

Portion out the juice into little cups for dipping.

It's best to serve right away, you don't want to miss that gooey cheesiness!

It is one of my favorite comfort foods, all that cheese and beef! YUM!