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Friday, October 3rd 2008

10:25 PM

Cast Iron & Breakfast Pizza

Sorry I didn't post last week! It was a little crazy! This post and next week's will definately make up for it though. I will admit I don't know a lot about cast iron. My mom  had a bunch of cast iron pans when I was growing up, but I hated using them because I thought the food tasted like metal and I hated it. My mom made us scrub those pans until they were almost silver. Yes, I know that's the number 1 thing NOT to do to cast iron. I've learned the proper way to cook with cast iron now and the taste is comppletely different!! It's amazing! Breakfast is the best thing cooked in cast iron and for this recipe I do all the cooking parts in my 2 cast iron skillets. This is the recipe of how I make breakfast pizza. Feel free to add other ingredients you like.

Breakfast Pizza

1 pound bag of hash browns (I like the shredded better for this)
1 pound bacon
6 eggs, scrambled
2 Hollandaise sauce mix packets
1 Pillsbury Pizza Crust
Cheese - any blend you like
Ham and any other ingredients you want

Cook baconm hashbrowns and scrambled eggs.

Prepare Hollandaise sauce acording to package instructions.

Unroll pizza dough and press out to desired thickness.

Prehat oven to 425° F.

Spread a thin layer of hollandaise sauce onto the pizza crust. Layer hasbrowns, more hollandaise sauce, eggs, bacon, ham and any other toppings you want. Add cheese to the top and backe for 10 m inutes and rotate pan. Bake an additional 3-5 m inutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

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Friday, September 19th 2008

8:39 PM

Cooling Wrack & Chocolate Crinkles

This is the coolest gadget I own. This was a wedding gift and I love it. It's 3 cooling wracks that stack on top of each other. My husband and I lived in a small house with a tiny kitchen at the time. I LOVE to bake and that kitchen wasn't very good for cookie baking, especially at Christmas time. This nifty gadget helped out a bunch! In our new house we have plenty of counter space, but I still love the stacking wracks. There's a small counter area to the side of the oven the wrack fit perfectly on so I don't have to go far with a hot cookie sheet and I can spread out my mixing and cookie forming out in the other area. They fold up really nice for storage and they're pretty stout. Eve when I'm baking bread or something like that, I'll use 1 wrack to cool on because it lifts it off the counter for good air circulation around the bread so it cools faster and more evenly. I think my set came from Kohl's but I'm not positive. They are a great thing to have in your kitchen, especially if you have a tiny one with not much counter space.
The recipe I'm going to share with my favorite gadget is my favorite cookie recipe. I love these cookies! They're fun to make and they are extremly yummy! When I make them they don't last long and I've even been blamed for extreme weight gain from making these cookies. You can't eat just one! You'll see that the recipe calls for 4 ounces of melted chocolate but I hardly ever have baker's chocolate on hand, but I do have cocoa powder and I found how to convert cocoa powder and cooking oil into baker's chocolate. It's measured in 12 tablespoons and I've never converted that to cups because I think it's easier to scoop the cocoa out of the container by tablespoons.

Chocolate Crinkles

Makes about 48 cookies

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted or 12 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder & 4 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
sifted powder sugar

In a mixing bowl beat eggs, granulated sugar, chocolate, oil, baking powder and vanill with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaning flour. Cover and chill 1 to 2 hours or until easy to handle.

Shape dought into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar to coat generously. Place balls 1-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 375° oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are set and tops are crackled. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

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Wednesday, September 10th 2008

5:40 AM

Egg Timer & Bacon and Macaroni Salad


I don't know why, but for some reason I have trouble hard boiling eggs. I make a mean soft boiled egg, but I hate soft boiled eggs! I found this nifty gadget at K-Mart and last night I tried it out for the first time and I love it! I tried to take a picture of it when the color was changing, but you couldn't see it because of the boiling water. What you do is put the timer in your water with your eggs and start boiling. The timer doesn't go by time, it goes by heat so if you have a stove like my old one that took forever to boil water, it will still work fine. The red starts to turn a purpleish color starting from the outside and as it comes into the centerand gets to the lines, that's the kind of egg you have. This is a great gadget for people that for some weird reason have trouble boiling eggs. I blame it on not having anyone to teach me to cook when I was younger. I don't know if that's the real reason, but it works.

This salad was AWESOME! Every month my office has a birthday potluck and today was this months potluck day. I like to take my experiments to potluck, that way incase they didn't really turn out, we're not stuck eating them all at home. I actually went and pulled this off the table early so that we can have some with dinner tonight. I mixed everything together last night, but I next time I'll mix the dressing in the morning of. Last night when we tried it, I liked it better than I did this morning. I think the noodles absorbed too much of the liquid. It was still very good though. I also didn't put enough bacon in. I had only planned on making a half batch so I saved a half pound of bacon when we made breakfast the other day and then all of a sudden the full bag of macaroni was in the pot. I'm glad I made the full batch, but I wish I had planned the full pound of bacon to make it even yummier! Here's the recipe!


Bacon & Macaroni Salad

1 Pound Sliced Bacon
1 (16 oz.) Package Elbow Macaroni
1 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup White Sugar
1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
3 Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Large Cucumber, Peeled & Chopped
4 Hard-Cooked Eggs, Chopped
1/2 cup Chopped Celery

Cook bacon, drain, crumble and set aside. Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water.

Whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add the bacon, pasta, tomato, cucumber, egg and celery. Gently fold until the salad is evenly covered with the dressing.


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Thursday, September 4th 2008

8:40 AM

Bake Ease & Zucchini Bread

A couple years ago I discovered this wonderful product. If you are a baker, you're going to love this stuff! Bake Ease is the Kroger name for it. I know you can get it at Wal-Mart cheaper but I can't remember what it's called there. What it is, is a spray like Pam with flour in it to spray in your baking pans. Do you know what that means? No more smearing shortening or oil in the pan and then putting flour in it and doing what I call the Flour Dance to get the flour all over the pan so your bread, cake, muffins or whatever else doesn't stick to the pan. I use this stuff on cookie sheets, bread pans, can pans and anything else I use to bake with. When I was younger and in 4-H, I did cake decorating and I hated making sure those Wilton pans got every single spot covered so my character cake wouldn't lookse an eye, ear or anything else. I wish this stuff had been around then. I love it!

Those bread pans behind the can are some old pans that my mother had for years. I used to use those pans a lot or watch her use them and could never figure out wht was up with the weird indention on the bottom of the pan because it never came out on the bread. I made zucchini bread not long ago using those pans and for the forst time I saw the indention in the bread. I still have no idea why it is there, but it looked cool on the bottom of the bread. I don't know if the indentions were there for some sort of support system or just to make you wonder why it's there, but it was there.

This recipe for zucchini bread is an old recipe from my husbands family. I'm going to copy the instructions EXACTLY how I received them. Hopefully you'll know to mix the ingredients before you bake them. I usually mix a few ingredients together before I add a few more. I sometiems add them in different orders also. It always tastes good so I guess there's really no wrong way to do it.

Zucchini Bread

2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup nuts (optional)
1 cup oil
Dash of cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon bakig powder
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour

Bake at 350° for one hour.

Makes 2 loaves.

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Thursday, August 28th 2008

2:57 AM

Mixer & French Bread

I love to bake and have always been pretty good at it, except for when it came to bread. My mother was great at baking bread and I could follow her recipes and intructions exactly and my bread still wouldn't rise right or just didn't taste right. I was told it was because I have shor stubby fingers so I couldn't knead the dough the way it needed to be kneaded. I used a bread machine for awhile, but it just didn't seem the same plus the machine I had was an older one where the paddles didn't come out so the bread always got suck o them. The crust on the bread always seemed too think and you only got one shape of bread. I am extremly hard on hand mixers. I'm afraid to buy a stand mixer because that's a lto of money to spend on something that I'd either be too afraid to use because I'd break it or I would break it not too long after I bought it. I'm okay with buying the handmixers and then they die because they're a lot less money. So my mixer died and it was time to start looking at new ones and I found one that had a dough hook attachement. It only had one hook, but it worked great and I was in love. It soon died though because the one hook couldn't keep up with my new bread making talent. The bread rose correctly and tasted WONDERFUL! When that one went to mixer heaven, I foudn one made by Hamilton Beach (at Wal-Mart) that had 2 hooks plus a wisk! It's lasted a lot longer than any of my other mixers ever did! It came with a case to keep the mixer and the attachements all together. I hate looking for the beaters or the other attachements in which ever drawer I put them in. It didn't matter which drawer I had them in, I was always seraching for one of them. With the case with this mixer, I always know where the attachements are, plus the mixer doesn't get shoved around or beat up in the cupboard. It is GREAT!! I HIGHLY recommend this hand mixer to all bakers!!! In the German Chocolate Pie recipe (the previous post) I used the whisk to whisk the ingredients that needed whisked. The whisk also saves lots of time when it comes to making meringue.

Now for the recipe. I got this recipe from a cook book I have, but can't remember which one. I love this recipe. It's easy and tates great. I like making it when we do lasagna or spaghetti. Toasting it with some garlic butter is very yummy, too! It's really easy to cut the recipe in half to make one loaf, too.

French Bread

Makes: 2 Loaves

5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages yeast (or 5 teaspoons)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water (120° to 130°)
1 slightly beaten egg white
1 tablespoon water

1. In a large mixing bow stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeat and salt. Add the watm water to the dry mixture. Eat with an electric mixer on lot to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. (I go ahead and use the dough hooks for this part, too.) Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon (or your hand mixer with dough hooks) stir in as much of the remaning flour as you can.

2. If kneading by hand: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a stuff dough that is smooth and elstic (8 to 10 minutes total).
If kneading with the dough hooks: Do the same thing but leave the dough in the bowl and kick the mixer on high and move the mixer up and down and side to side in the dough.
Shape the dough into a ball. PLace dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to greace the surface of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double in size (about 1 hour).

3. Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a  and divide into 2 balls. Let them rest while you warm the oven and get the pan ready. Heat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.

4. Roll each portion of the dough into a 15 x 10-inche rectangle. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting from a long side; seal well. Pinch ends and pull slightly to taper. place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. In a small mixing bowl stir together egg white and water. Brush some of the egg white mixture over loaves. Cover and let rise till nearly double in size (dor 35 to 45 minutes). Using a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across teh top of each loaf.

5. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Brush with egg mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes till loaves sound hollow.



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Friday, August 22nd 2008

9:00 AM

Paula Deen's Chocolate Celebration & German Chocolate Pie

The first "gadget" I would like to review is Paula Deen's Chocolate Celebration Magazine. Cookbook, cooking magazines and other recipe sources are an important gadget in my kitchen. I may not always follow the recipes exactly, but they give me ideas and some instructions. My mother didn't teach me to cook. It wasn't until I was married that I learned that I could cook and that I loved it. I learned how long to cook a lasagna. meatloaf and lots of other main dishes that most of you know how long to cook, what ingredients to add as a binder and other stuff like that.

I bought this magazine at Walmart, but you can also get it on Amazon here. I love watching Paula Deen on Food Network. I love baking and making desserts and Paula has been an inspiration to my baking. This magazine is totally worth the $8.99! I bought the magazine before we moved out of our old house and into our new house so I didn't get to try any receipes until this week. During the move, I read the articles and picked out the recipes I wanted to try first. One of my favorite parts of the magazine (after the recipes of course) is the section towards teh back called "Exploring Chocolate Hideaways." There are several chocolate "destinations" in this section. My favortie has to be Cocoa Cottage B&B in Whitehall, Michigan. Hopefully some day I will be able to visit that B&B and write a review on it. After reading about it in Paula's magazine, I can already tell it's going to be a VERY positive review!

Some of the recipes include: Chocolate Spiced Pork Chops, Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball, Chocolate Bread,Turtle Popcorn, Chocolate Mashmallows and tons more. The first recipe I tried was German Chocolate Pie on page 36. I am so glad I tried this one first! I LOVE German Chocolate! I made it for the monthly birthday potluck at my office (that's where I try out most of my experiemtns) and luckily not a lot of people showed up and I was able to sneak out almost half of the pie before it was gone. In the recipe it tells you 2 different times to whisk in the eggs. I did it the second time because I think it was a typo being in there twice. I think whisking them in the first time would work fine, too. I'll type the recipe in exactly how it is in the magazine and you choose how you want to do it and let me know what you think. If you like German Chocolate, I promise you won't be dissapointed!!!

German Chocolate Pie

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crust
1 (4-ounce) bar German's sweet chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. On a lightly floured surface, unroll pie crust. Roll pastry into a 12-inch circle. Press pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate, crimping edges, if desired.
3. In a large bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Microwave on High in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, or until choclate is melted and smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in eggs. Add sugar, corn syrup, an vanilla, whisking to combine. Whisk in eggs. Stir in pecans and coconut. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until center is set, covering pie with heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent excess browingin if necessary. Cool completely. Cut into wedges to serve.

This is really good with icecream - Butter Pecan icecream to be exact.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have!!

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Friday, August 15th 2008

9:55 PM

Welcome To My Blog!

Welcome to my new blog. I hope you enjoy this blog. I want to help other home cooks and bakers with gadget, tool and even brand reviews. I'll start with some of my favorites that I already have in my kitchen. If you have anything you would like be to try out and review, let me know. Just email me at HilarysDesigns(at)yahoo(dot)com. As a bonus, with each review, I will post a recipe that you can use the item reviewed in.
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