Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lazy day.

Spring Break Lunch #3... was from a box. I wasn't feeling very up to cooking anything because I've had a cold and it got worse yesterday after the rolls. So while I sat watching Idle Hands (so cheesy) I let the oven preheat for my amazing meal of..
A Freschetta Frozen pizza! Oh, yes. I did add a bit of cheese to it.

It was good. It didn't cause a mouthgasm. But it's something I would consider having again. I think it needs more vegetables, though. (I actually sautéed up some asparagus and put it on my slice.)

And then, for dinner, it was off to Jacqueline's to watch Meet the Robinsons. Cute movie. Our meal included freshly popped microwave popcorn.

And an array of Skittles, M&M's, and Strawberry Twizzlers. Not Pull-And-Peel, though. I was slightly disappointed.
We also had some of my orange rolls and cupcakes. Because I had to get rid of them somehow.

And there you have it. Having colds are fun. Not really. But eating only junk food for a day, hanging out with friends, and blaming all the bad food on the cold is. Cooking will happen tomorrow. But not much. I'll post pictures anyway. Nothing fancy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Breakfast. At 3:01 in the afternoon.

(Don't you love my fancy serving plate of a... paper plate?)

I really did mean to have these ready by traditional "lunch time." Around noon. Or twelve-thirty. Instead, I got wrapped up in Donnie Darko and ignored my dough for a bit. Either way, I eventually got my orange rolls ready. I just had one. Sooo good. One of my sisters has refused to eat them. Apparently orange is gross. Her loss. But that means.. I have a bunch of orange rolls. Because, you know, I don't have enough cupcakes already to get rid of. Anybody live in the Kyle-area looking for cupcakes or orange rolls? You know you want some.

These rolls actually came about because of my blatant dislike for cinnamon rolls. Powdered sugar icing? Gross. It just tastes like.. sugar. I had a recipe for orange bowknots. Sounded good. Also sounded dry. Orange bowknots. Cinnamon rolls. Orange bowknots. Cinnamon ro-. Orange rolls. I was salivating already. So I grabbed an orange, grabbed my cookbook, and went at it.

Ta-da! Spring Break Lunch #2. (Oh, and, these rolls have a really nice bright orange flavour. Unlike those store-bought Pillsbury ones. I loved those things when I was little.)

Orange Rolls

6 cups all-purpose flour (or less if you need to.. I was actually going for 5 1/2 cups. But needed more.)
1 package active dry yeast
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 plus 1/4 cup regular milk (or you can just use all milk or all buttermilk even. I just had some buttermilk I needed to use.)
1/2 cup salted butter (just accept the fact that I only ever have salted butter in my house.)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 fresh squeezed orange juice (or however much you want to reach desired consistency)

In your mixer bowl, combine two cups of the flour with the yeast. Mix until combined with the dough hook. Add the eggs and mix to break them up.

In a small saucepan, combine the buttermilk, milk, butter, sugar, and salt, and heat just until the butter is almost completely melted, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir to melt the rest of the butter. If it's too hot let it cool a bit before adding to the flour mixture. Once the mixture is around 105° F (I actually don't have a thermometer.. I just feel it to see if it's warm enough to me) turn the mixer back on and slowly pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Mix for about thirty seconds on low, then scrape the bowl. Mix some more, trying to get it completely combined. (I didn't succeed in that, but got as close as I could.) Add the juice and zest, mix in. Add the next three cups of flour a cup at a time, completely mixing after each addition. So far, there should be five cups of flour you have used. Gradually add the final cup while the mixer is on low. Let the machine knead the dough until it is all combined. The resulting dough should be moderately soft and slightly sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled. While that is rising, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the filling.

After the dough has risen, punch it down, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, divide in two, cover, and let rest for ten minutes. (Again, the movie distracted me.. I think I left mine for about twenty.) Take this time to grease two nine-inch round pans. (I just used my cake pans.)

Roll one portion into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle. Brush about half the melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Roll up starting from a long end and pinch the seam to close it, using some of the melted butter to help. (You'll wind up having one 12-inch long roll.) Using a sharp knife, bench scraper, or some heavy duty thread, cut the roll into twelve equal pieces and place in a prepared pan.

(I just used some thread I had folded over on itself twice. Just lay the the roll over the thread, criss-cross it above the roll, and pull quickly in opposite directions.) Repeat with the second portion of dough.

Cover the pans and let rise for about half an hour. At this point, I started pre-heating my oven to 375° F and placed the pans on the stove to let rise with the help from the oven's heat.

Place the rolls in the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.

When they've finished baking, invert the pan onto a serving plate and turn the rolls right side up. (I turned the rolls out onto one plate, upside-down. I then covered them with a second plate and turned them over so they were right-side-up. I did this with the second pan, except I inverted them initially into my first empty pan.)

Combine the zest, sugar, and juice for the glaze. Drizzle onto the hot rolls evenly. I was feeling fancy so I dusted the rolls with powdered sugar. It's not necessary, but you can if you want. Enjoy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mmm. Random surveys.

You Are Cilantro

The bad news is that there are some people who can't stand you.

The good news is that most people love you more than anything else in the world.

You are distinct, unusual, fresh, and very controversial. And you wouldn't have it any other way.

What Spice Are You?

You Are Very Skeptical

Your personal motto is: "Prove it."

While some ideas, like life after death, may seem nice...

You aren't going to believe them simply because it feels good.

You let science and facts be your guide... Even if it means you don't share the beliefs of those around you.

How Skeptical Are You?

What Your Bathroom Habits Say About You

You are very independent and self-centered. You don't solve other people's problems - and you don't expect them to solve yours.

Your idea of fashion is jeans and a t-shirt. Clean, if you're lucky.

You are a little shy and easily embarrassed. You often wonder if you are normal.

In relationships, you tend to be very romantic and demanding. You'll treat your partner like gold, but you expect a lot in return.

You Are a Black and White Cookie

You're often conflicted in life, and you feel pulled in two opposite directions.

When you're good, you're sweet as sugar. And when you're bad, you're wicked!

Veggie Pizza

Upscale and trendy.

You're the most likely to go for a gourmet pizza.

You have impeccable taste in everything.

You truly enjoy the finer things in life.

I need a life.

Easy As a Piece of Pizza... or not.

Since it's the start of Spring Break, I thought I'd give my sisters pizza for lunch. Seems easy enough. Make some dough. Let it rise. Roll it out. Add some sauce, cheese, pepperoni. Simple. And it was. In the beginning. Which should have tipped me off about what was to happen later.

My dad found a forty-inch LCD TV on sale recently, so he bought it. And since we have that, we then needed an HD cable box. So he got that as well. We have movie channels. For now. So I've been living it up as long as I can until they are gone. I put on The Babysitter's Club movie (which I found on one of the movie channels) for them and went to work.

I made the pizza dough and placed it on the back of my stove to rise. I usually do this because it's warmer there. Then I set about preparing a marinara sauce for their pizza and an alfredo sauce for mine. Things were going smoothly.

I cut up the chicken, sautéed it. Cut up the asparagus, sautéed it. Still. Things were going well. I got my pizza dough. Turned it out onto my floured counter. Trouble. All the heat from my pans of good stuff cooking away started cooking the dough. But I didn't let it bother me. I salvaged as much unbaked dough as I could and made two crusts from it. Oddly shaped as they were.

I finally baked them off, put on my toppings and popped them back in the oven with the broiler on to make the cheese all bubbly.

They weren't round. Half my dough was baked before I even got around to making the pizzas. And I was full by the time everything was ready. It was a good lunch nevertheless.

Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo Pizza

1 10-inch pizza crust

Sauce: (This makes more than enough for one.. even though I used almost all of it for one anyway.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
4 garlic cloves, roasted
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

about 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (You can use less. I just.. don't.)
4 chicken tenders
about 10 asparagus spears
enough oil to cover the bottom of a sauté pan

In a small saucepan heat the tablespoon of oil. Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute. Add in the garlic cloves, mashing them into the roux. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened, whisking often. Whisk in the parmesan and sprinkle in pepper to taste. Set aside.

Chop the asparagus into about one-inch stalks. Set aside. Chop the chicken as small as you would like. I cut each tender length-wise and then chopped it into cubes. Season with salt and pepper. In a sauté pan, add enough oil to coat the bottom. Turn the heat to medium-high to get the oil nice and hot. Add the chicken and turn the heat down to medium. I let it go for about five minutes so that I got a nice golden crust before turning them. When the chicken is done, remove it and set it off to the side, adding the asparagus to the remaining oil. Sauté for a few minutes until it is cooked to your liking. I let them turn a nice golden brown. Yummy.

To assemble, spread some sauce on the pizza crust. (If the sauce is too cool by now, just heat it back up a bit and then spread it on.) Sprinkle about half the cheese on. Lay down your chicken and asparagus and then cover with the remaining cheese. Turn your broiler on high and slip it into the oven, either straight onto the rack or on a sheet pan until the cheese nice and bubbly.

(I'll post pictures later. I'm too lazy right now.)

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Zucchini

So. This is my first post as well as my first entry into the Cupcake Hero contest. I had stumbled upon Laurie's site on March second or third when she presented all the entries for February's Liquor cupcakes. I had to sign up. It wasn't a maybe or if I have time. (Psht, forget about homework and culinary school applications.) I had to do this. And so I sat, patiently waiting for Laurie to announce March's secret ingredient. Marshmallows. Okay. That's... odd. Marshmallows. Cake. Marshmallows. Cake. Huh. All I could think of initially was a s'more cupcake. No, I didn't want to do that. Well, I do.. but I wanted something more creative. I was talking to my friend Chris about it and he suggested rocky road. But no... still not original enough. That was all I could think about, though. Chocolate and marshmallows. Okay, I had to do something with that. Chocolate cake with marshmallow on top? No. Too boring. (Chris then told me how amazing he found it that baking took top ranking in my list of priorities; nevermind I have an essay to write, I have to find a recipe to bake.) I had been itching to make zucchini bread ever since I made those four dozen banana muffins in Culinary Arts class. And that was it. Chocolate zucchini cupcakes with marshmallows and a marshmallow frosting.

First off, I needed a base chocolate zucchini recipe to work from. I found that on Heidi's blog. (Flog? You know.. video blogs are "vlogs." Food blogs.. flogs. I guess that might be too brutal for some people. Not for Molly, though. Ha. Laugh at my joke. Ah... I doubt anybody gets that.) Anyway, I took her recipe and tweaked it to what sounded best to me. Added more zucchini, a bit more cinnamon. Exchanged the cup of chocolate chips for a cup of chopped up miniature marshmallows. And yes, I spent the time quartering every single miniature marshmallow only for them to dissolve into my batter. (Which wound up not making them as gooey as I thought they'd be.. but I still like the name.) What can I say? I have no life at all. Seriously. They did make for a very tender cake, though. I had to force myself to stop eating them. I'm actually hoping I can pawn some off onto the one neighbour that has actually befriended us. Well, and stayed kind. Can't say that about Psycho-Lady. Ah.. I digress. Again. And the marshmallow frosting? I exchanged that for a homemade marshmallow topping which was again changed for just some Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Cream. Simply because the price for unflavoured gelatin was the same as a container of marshmallow cream. I'm cheap. And last time I made homemade marshmallows.. they came out horribly. I blame Tyler Florence and his recipe. Simply because I can. (I know, I know.. I'll work on my marshmallow making skills. But seriously. That recipe? Never again.)

I thought they were absolutely amazing. They were moist, they were chocolatey, they were zucchiniy. They fixed my tastes. Then came the main critics. My little sisters. When they saw me grating the zucchini, they were wary. When they saw me using cocoa powder, they were interested. When they realised I was mixing the two, they were grossed out. I decided to tell them I was just making chocolate cupcakes; the zucchini was for bread. So at ten o'clock tonight I forced them out of their rooms with the exclamation of, "I'm forcing you to eat chocolate cupcakes!" I handed the older one a cupcake, then gave the younger one the rest. They both had a look of mixed feelings on their face. I was crestfallen. They didn't like them. "You don't like it." That got their attention. Sharlee, the younger one, replied, "I like it. Un-burnt marshmallows are gross, though." So there you have it. The little kids say its good. We're just weird and can't have a marshmallow unless it's completely black. (Our aunt corrupted us.)

Oh, and the zucchini part. I wanted to get in as much zucchini as I could. So I decided to squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini and then measure it. From two large and two small zucchinis I got three cups of zucchini and a half cup of liquid. It was fun watching my dad smell the liquid and then grimace at its "grassy" smell. Heh. Well. Now that I've completely put you off from my blog (flog) because of my inane ramblings, here is the recipe.

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Zucchini

1 cup miniature marshmallows, chopped
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup salted butter, room temperature (You can use unsalted, I just only ever have salted. If you do, though, up the amount of salt to a 1/2 teaspoon.)
3 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
3 cups grated zucchini squeezed of its juice
2 7-ounce containers of Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Cream (You can use other kinds or make your own. This is just what's available to me. Also, I only used about one and a half of the containers.)

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Line three cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers.

In a small bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, and marshmallows.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Scrape bowl. Beat in the vanilla, buttermilk, and zucchini on slow.

Add all the dry mixture at once, and start mixing, starting on the lowest setting, gradually getting faster. Spoon batter into cupcake tins, filling about two-thirds full. Place pans each on a separate rack in the oven. Bake for about 21 minutes, rotating every seven minutes.

Remove pans from oven and place a dollop of marshmallow cream onto each cupcake, spreading as evenly as you can. Pop each pan, one at a time, under the broiler set on high for a couple minutes until the tops are golden brown. Alternatively, you can use a simple kitchen hand torch. But I don't have one.

Oh, and one more thing. After trying a cupcake from my third pan, I've come to realise that if you have thin pans make sure you cook them for a bit less time. I have two pans that are a nice thick aluminum and one that is.. well.. thin non-stick. The thin non-stick pan gave off cupcakes that aren't as moist as the others. They're very good.. but yeah. (Yes, I'm admitting that a batch didn't come out good enough. But that's because of the timing issue with the pans. Or at least I'm hoping. I've had problems with that pan before..) Check the times. Or at least have three of the same kind of pans? Heh. XD