Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

And so it starts...

Thanksgiving is less than 48 hours away. I have A LOT to do between now and then. My in-laws are coming to our house for dinner and while we are very excited. I am very nervous about getting everything done. Let's have a rundown of the menu, shall we?

Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Roasted Turkey
Turkey Rice & Gravy
Ham (compliments of my Mr. Shoe's dad)

Side Dishes:
Mac & Cheese
My GGma's Homemade Rolls (sadly, not these)
Oyster Dressing
Sweet Potato Casserole (compliments of Mr. Shoe's mom)
Green Bean Casserole (compliments of Mr. Shoe's sister)
Salad (compliments of Mr. Shoe's grandmother)

Pear Crisp
Cookie Birthday Cake (for my sister in-law & brother in-law)
Something that my sister in-law is bringing but I have no idea what. Maybe Cookies.

I have a huge to do list that is broken down by day. Tonight, there will be a lot of cleaning in my housegoing on. And tomorrow there will be a lot of prep work and cooking.

So wish me luck! And good luck to all of you who are also hosting!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Honey Yeast Rolls

This recipe has been sitting in my Reader for months. And every so often I stare longingly at it. It was just begging to be made in my kitchen. Begging, I tell you!

So when it was decided that Mr.Shoe and I would be hosting Thanksgiving at our house, I literally jumped at the chance to make these rolls. But of course I had to do a trial run before the big day!

2 1/4 t instant yeast
1 c warm water (105-115 F)
1/4 c honey
3 T canola oil (I used vegetable)
1 1/4 t salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 c bread flour
Cooking spray
1 T butter, melted
1 T honey

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water. Add the honey, oil, salt and egg. Mix well. Add 3 cups of the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining 1 cup flour and mix until it is incorporated into the dough. Switch to the dough hook, and continue kneading on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.

After the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal portions. Shape each portion into a smooth ball and place into a lightly greased baking dish, spacing evenly (I find a 9x13 dish works best). Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 20 minutes.

Mix together the melted butter and honey. You have a couple options here.

1) Brush the butter/honey mixture over the rolls before baking
2) Brush the butter/honey mixture over the rolls 5 minutes into baking. And then again when it comes out of the oven.
3) Brush the butter/honey mixture over the rolls after they are done baking.

I have done both 1 & 2 and personally, prefer 2. But that's just me.

Whatever you decide to do, bake for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Mine are perfect at 17 minutes. Serve warm.

I love these. Love, love, love! I mean, what's not to love? They're sweet, doughy and carbtastic. The dough is very dense and a tad bit harder to work with than other doughs that I've worked with but totally worth it.

That being said...

Mr. Shoe is not a fan. He does not like the denseness or the doughiness of the rolls. I was hoping to serve these for Thanksgiving but after making them twice and getting the same reaction each time, I think I need to move on to a lighter recipe.

But rest assured, these fabulous carb creations have not seen the last of my kitchen. If you are reading this and intrigued, please make them. Please? And we'll just hope that your significant other is more open minded about carbs than mine.

Annie's Eats

Pear Crisp

I ran across this recipe in my Reader a couple weeks ago and it stuck out in my mind. And by "stuck out in my mind" I mean that I couldn't stop thinking about it for even a second. So I decided that this would make a good dish on my table for Thanksgiving. My in-laws are...well...they just are.

So I tried this the other night for some friends and they loved it! But I felt like the pears could have been sweeter. So I made it a second time. But I took it out the oven too soon and the pears weren't soft enough. Grrr...

Apparently the third time is the charm. I made it again on Monday night and it was PERFECT! The first thing that I think made it perfect was by Monday, the pears I bought on Friday were really ripe and juicy. And I added the vanilla to the filling. Both of these factors made the pears super sweet. I also let it cook for the entire 40 minutes and they were soooo soft. And lastly, I add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in the topping recipe. It only calls for 1/2 teaspoon but honestly, you can always use more cinnamon. I just love, love, love the flavor it added.

The only thing I think I will do differently next week is not put so much topping. This recipe makes a LOT of topping and while it is very good, I like a balance between my fruit and topping. But that's just a personal preference. =)

4-5 large pears (I used Bosc)
2/3 c sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla

1 1/2 c AP flour
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar. firmly packed
1 t cinnamon
1/2 c pecans, very finely chopped
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, core, and dice pears. Place into a bowl and stir together with sugar, salt and vanilla. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Stir together. Drizzle melted butter gradually, stirring with a fork as you go, until all combined.

Pour pears into a greased baking dish; top with crumb topping.

(Like I said earlier, this makes a LOT of topping. I don't recommend adding all of it. Just use your best judgement when you are putting this together.)

Bake for 30 minutes.

Place pan on top rack of oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream

Well, this will come as no surprise but it is FANTASTIC! The pears were so sweet and carmelized very nicely in their own juice with the help of the sugar.

I am very excited to serve this to my in-laws as I think they will really like it! And you can totally make this with apples for a makeshift apple pie. I bet it would be equally awesome.

Hey, want to know a secret?

I had never eaten a pear before I made this. Needless to say, I'm a fan.

Vanilla Ice Cream


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

Before I jump headfirst into sharing this ridiculously fantastic recipe with you all, I need to tell my awesome husband HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! One year ago today, he took the plunge with me and to date, there have been no regrets (that I know of anyway).

I made these cinnamon rolls last night in anticipation of having breakfast in bed with Mr.Shoe. It's definitely not something we get to do often! I knew I could just make these the night before and then throw in the oven when we got up.

I actually used a combination of 2 recipes. First I looked to everybody's favorite scientist, Alton Brown. "The Puffy" is probably one of his most famous recipes and was where I intended to start. But for kicks I decided to scroll through my Reader and see what else I had in there and that's when I came across this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. Go look at those pictures please.

All done? Good. Now that you've seen the photos you understand why I HAD to use her dough recipe. But we aren't really into nuts and syrup in our cinnamon rolls so I reverted to Alton for the filling and the icing.

1 package (2¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
1/2 t + 1/4 c sugar, divided
1/4 c water, heated to 115 degrees
1/2 c whole milk, room temperature*
2 T light brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 3/4 c AP flour (plus more for kneading)
3/4 t salt
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 T cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 T unsalted butter, melted

2 oz cream cheese, softened
3 T milk
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

*I didn't have whole milk so I used 1/4 c skim milk and 1/4 c half & half; worked like a charm.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Once it's preheated, let it sit for 10 minutes and then turn the oven off.

To Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, 1/2 t sugar and water. Stir to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Beat with a wire whisk until well combined. Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitting with the dough hook attachment. Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together. Turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes.

Add the butter and continue to knead for about 6 minutes. The dough will be wet and sticky. Place the dough on a well floured work surface, and knead about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into the dough. The dough still might be a little sticky, which is ok. Set the dough to rest in a large greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in the oven 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, make the filling. Combine the light brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.

When the dough has doubled in size, dump it from the bowl onto a heavily floured work surface. Gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed. Work the dough for about 1 or 2 minutes. Once it’s no longer sticky, place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes before you roll it out.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 x 10-inch square.

In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese with a knife until it’s smooth and spreadable. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square.

Fold the square into thirds like you would fold a letter to fit into an envelope. Take the open ends of the rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll it into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle. You may find that some cream cheese sneaks through. Be as gentle as possible with the dough, but continue to work it until you reach the size you need.

Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter.

Pour all of the filling onto the dough. Spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch boarder at one of the short edges of the dough so the roll can be properly sealed. Lightly press the filling into the dough.

Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder seam side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the uneven edges.

Cut the cylinder into 12 equal slices. Nestle the slices, cut side up and evenly spaced in a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours. You may also refrigerate rolls overnight (like we did).

I feel that it is important to mention that Mr. Shoe took over the cinnamon rolls. And he felt the need to completely forget about the recipe and just do whatever the heck he wanted. Le sigh...

Preheat the oven to 375. Uncover the rolls. If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before baking. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

To make the icing: Mix together the cream cheese, some powdered sugar and a splash or two of milk in a small bowl until smooth. Add more sugar or milk to reach your desired consistency.

Spread the icing over the cinnamon rolls until completely covered. Serve warm.

Fan-freaking-tastic! These were my (our) first attempt at homemade cinnamon rolls and I am uber pleased with the results.

However...I think that the icing was really, really sweet. And I couldn't figure out why until I realized that Mr. Shoe doubled the icing recipe. And used the entire batch over the cinnamon rolls (the recipe calls for 2 oz cream cheese; he used 4 oz and didn't measure his sugar or milk).

Gotta love him!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Spider Web Pumpkin Cheesecake

Mr. Shoe and I decided to throw an impromptu get together at our house for Halloween. And while candy is all good, I wanted something pumpkiney (is that a word?) to serve also. When I saw this recipe, I had to try it.

I did change a few things from the original recipe. The biggest thing probably being the sour cream mixture that I concocted. Several reviews of the recipe mentioned that this tasted well, like sour cream. And I wanted it to be a sweet treat!

18 Oreo cookies, finely crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 t + 2 T butter, melted & separated
3 - 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar + 1 T sugar, separated
15 oz pumpkin
1 T pumpkin pie spice*
3 eggs
1 c sour cream
1 t vanilla extract
1 square Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate

*I didn't have pumpkin pie spice and didn't feel like going to the store so I mixed 2 t cinnamon, 1 t ground ginger & 1 t ground nutmeg and just measured my 1 T from there. You can adjust to your liking. If anything, add more cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 350 if using a silver springform pan or 325 if using a dark nonstick springform pan.

Mix cookie crumbs and 2 T butter; press firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then set aside.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice; mix well. (I should note here that I think if I had added a little less pumpkin, I would have liked the texture a tad bit more. It was still great but I found that all that pumpkin took away from the flavor of the cream cheese. Next time, I will add a little bit of pumpkin at a time and mix as I go to ensure a better consistency.)

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour mixture over crust.

Bake 50-55 min or until center is almost set; cool slightly.

While that's cooling...mix your sour cream, sugar and vanilla with a whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and the sour cream has a hint of a sweeter taste.

Carefully spread sour cream mixture over top of cheesecake. Run a warm knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake (don't remove from springform pan yet).

Place chocolate and 1 t butter in small microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 30 sec increments, stirring each 30 sec, until chocolate is completely melted.

Get a small ziploc bag and pour your chocolate in it. Trying to get as much as possible to one of the corners. Snip a very, very tiny piece off of the corner.

VERY SLOWLY, drizzle the chocolate over the cheesecake in spiral pattern. Starting at the center of cheesecake, pull a toothpick through the lines from the center of the cheesecake to the outside edge of the cheesecake to resemble a spider's web. Refrigerate at least 4 hours; preferably overnight.

OH YUM! This was sooooo good. I am seriously in love with the pumpkin flavor and the texture was very creamy. I still think I would back off the pumpkin a little bit next time but this cheesecake is a winner. And would be great for Thanksgiving! Minus the spider web of course. =)

Kraft Foods