Sunday, October 31, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Stromboli

My husband's coworker recently gave me a bread machine. I'm not a huge bread eater, but I do love that I can make pizza dough with it. After finding this tutorial on how to make pizza dough, I popped all my ingredients into the machine and let it do its thing. I was left was some beautiful pizza dough. I decided to skip the pizza and make stromboli instead. After working it to the thickness I wanted, I filled it with a mixture of buffalo chicken and cheese. I popped it in the oven and out came a gorgeous stromboli. It was spicy, cheesy, and delicious. Next time, I have to use the bread machine to actually make bread.

Buffalo Chicken Stromboli
Source: pizza dough from YouTube

1 pizza dough recipe
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup buffalo sauce
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1 - 1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out dough and shape into a rectangle.
Mix together chicken, buffalo sauce, and bleu cheese crumbles.
Spread mixture on dough, leaving a 1-inch perimeter.
Cover with shredded cheese.
Roll lengthwise into a log.
Brush with beaten egg.
Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pastry School Update

I'm about half-way through my first pastry school class. I've learned a lot so far. I got to use a commercial mixer and oven. I learned how to clean a dish machine (not fun). I've played with a doughnut filler (and made a huge mess)! I made a friend. We've made an array of tasty items such as fruit, cream, and chiffon pies, pasties, apple dumplings, cookies, bars, eclairs, cream puffs, and tarts. The most fun and tastiest pastry I've made so far is cream puffs and eclairs. I loved how the recipe called for us to cook the dough before baking it. The tiny mounds of dough blew up into beautiful pastries. It was very interesting. Plus those little devils were delicious.

And then we made tarts. I'm so proud of the tart you see above. It's so beautiful. I've never made a tart before, nor have I ever eaten one. I really wasn't looking forward to class, either. I had fun making these and loved my final product. I don't know if I'll ever make another tart in my life, but at least I have this one. All in all, I'm having fun and looking forward to the rest of my class and moving on to a cake class next semester.     
Here's a fuzzy picture of my teammate, Ericka, and I at pastry class. (I'm on the right.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

I love everything about the fall: apples, pumpkins, cool weather, changing leaves, etc. But I've seriously been slacking this year. Pastry school has been keeping me super busy and I haven't had any time to make any fall treats. When I heard about the What's Baking cooking group from my favorite cooking board, I knew I wanted to participate, especially since this month's theme is fall cupcakes, two of my favorite things. We went to the local orchard over the weekend and picked up a barrel of Macintosh apples that were just begging to be used in a recipe. I had been eying a recipe for caramel apple cupcakes in the October issue of Every Day with Rachel Ray.

I liked the method for this cupcake recipe. Just shred the apples and stir all the ingredients together. No mixer involved. Plus, it yielded only 12 cupcakes, which is a perfect amount since I'm bringing home hoards of treats from school. (This week is tarts!) Instead of topping these with caramel, I opted for a caramel buttercream. While the buttercream was delicious, I don't think these cupcakes needed any frosting at all. It overwhelmed the fresh apple flavor, but they were delicious nonetheless. 

Apple Cupcakes
Source: Every Day with Rachel Ray, October 2010

2 apples, peeled and shredded (sprinkle w/ lemon juice to prevent browning)
1 and 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed tightly)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Whisk in oil and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in the apples.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 22 - 28 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before topping with frosting.

Caramel Buttercream
1 stick butter 
2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 2 tablespoons water
15 caramel candies

Melt caramels in microwave for about 1 minute. Stir well and cool. Cream the butter. Add vanilla and beat well. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water until desired consistency is reached. Add the caramel and beat well.

*TIP: Since I didn't wait for the caramel to cool completely, I used slightly cold butter so it didn't melt during mixing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

I've been looking for some different ways to make chicken and I came across this recipe. All I can say about this chicken is wow! This simple recipe yielded a perfectly moist and flavorful chicken breast. It may not be one of the healthiest recipes, but it's certainly delicious. I made a few changes to cut down on the amount of butter and cheese used in the recipe.

Garlic Cheddar Chicken
Source: adapted from All Recipes

6 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
1 stick butter (I used 2/3 stick.)
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 and 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (I used 1/2 cup jack/cheddar blend.) 
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a baking dish. 
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and cook the garlic until tender.
On a plate, mix the bread crumbs, cheeses, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter, then press into the bread crumb mixture.
Drizzle any remaining butter on top of the chicken breasts.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes

I originally made these red velvet cupcakes for my good friend's birthday and again for my husband's Dirty Stashe Bash. They were a hit, especially with my self-proclaimed cake-hating cousin. He loved them so much and requested these for his birthday instead of his annual ice cream cake.That's how powerful these cuties are: They beat ice cream cake! I made these mini, so he'd have leftovers to share with his class. As always, red velvet never disappoints, especially when they're topped with brown sugar cream cheese. If you've never tried red velvet, make these now! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alice Springs Chicken

I know it's been a while since I updated, but this gal is busy! I'm loving culinary school, but it's kicking my butt to be a student again. It got me thinking back to when I attended college the first time around. I graduated from Penn State eight years ago, yep, it's really been that long. 

To pay for my books and rent, I used to wait tables at Outback Steakhouse. I really can't say I loved waiting tables, but it did pay the bills. I did, however, love the 50% discount I received. It helped a poor college student like me subsist on steak and potatoes. One of my favorite dishes on the menu is Alice Springs Chicken. It's a seasoned chicken breast covered in honey mustard sauce and topped with mushrooms, bacon, and melted cheese. It's so yummy! I was craving Alice Springs Chicken, so I decided instead of heading to the Outback here, I would make the dish at home. It came out delicious, but not as good as Outback. It must be their secret seasonings. I believe it's a blend of 17 different spices. At least that's what I remember from my days as a waitress.

Alice Springs Chicken
Inspired by Outback Steakhouse

3 chicken breasts, pounded thin and sliced in half
6 slices bacon
3/4 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/4 cup honey mustard
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic 
salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
Cook bacon, reserving 2 - 3 tablespoons of bacon grease.
Saute mushrooms in bacon grease and minced garlic.
Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and brush both sides with honey mustard.
Top with mushrooms, bacon, and cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

Buffalo Blue Potato Slabs
2 - 3 potatoes
1/4 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
salt & pepper

Thinly slice potatoes and place in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with buffalo sauce.
Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
During the last 3 minutes of baking, top with bleu cheese and return to oven to melt cheese.