Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Culinary School - Week 7

Last week in Artisan Breads we learned all about Rye breads. I was quite surprised that I actually liked a couple of them. I've never been a big fan of pumpernickel bread but I gave it a try in class and it was pretty good! We made Sourdough Rye, Two Castle Rye, New York Rye, Pumpernickel, Volkornbort, Honey Rye, and completely unrelated...French baguettes that we shaped into Pain d'Epi's.

We went into school an extra day this week and also spent the ENTIRE day on Saturday preparing for a chocolate competition at MSU in Lansing, MI. The theme was Cabinets of Curiosity and the minimum height requirement for the showpiece was 30 inches. Originally three teams from our school were going to compete, but with a time crunch at the end, and some very important pieces turning up missing, we ended up joining forces and only one team went to the competition. Here are some of the chocolate pieces made by my classmates...

Here are 175 earl grey tea truffles dipped with white chocolate that I made for the competition...

Both students and professionals were able to enter this competition. One of my chefs {teacher} ended up getting 1st place with his entry below.

And the group from my class ended up in 3rd place.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pretty Petal Cake

I made this cake a couple weeks ago. I had a couple job interviews last week so I wanted to practice up on my cake decorating skills and add another cake to my portfolio! It's called a petal cake and my inspiration came from Half Baked - The Cake Blog. This is my favorite cake so far! Iced with a simple buttercream and topped with a pretty gumpaste flower.

Want to know more about my interviews? They both went really well and I feel so blessed to have pretty much found my dream job right off the bat. I started working for The Dexter Bakery last week and am in love! Right now I am working alongside their other baker making cupcakes, cookies, sweet breads, pretzels, etc. I am also going to help them expand their wedding and special occasion cake line. It's perfect and I have loved every minute of it so far.

If you are in the Ann Arbor/Dexter area stop by the bakery and say hi! The bakery is nearly 100 years old and has so much personality! Each morning their racks are filled with the most amazing baked goods.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

My son and daughter just love watching the TV show Yo Gabba Gabba. We watch at least 2 episodes on Netflix EVERY day. Seems like they want to watch the same 2 over and over. I'm usually cooking or doing laundry while they are watching but I can't help but listen to it in the background. In particular there is this one song that goes like this, "There's a party in my tummy...so yummy, so yummy!" Anybody else heard this before? I'm afraid it's been implanted on my brain and I will start singing it at the most random times with my son singing right along with me.

Anyways, this next dish is sure to put a party in your tummy. It is beyond delicious! The crockpot makes the beef so moist and the gravy is just wonderful!

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Source: The Well-Fed Newlyweds

2 to 3 lbs. beef stew meat (or a 3 lb. chuck roast, cubed)
1 md. yellow onion, diced
1 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 1/2 c. beef broth or stock
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. ketchup
1/4 t. garlic salt
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
6-7 T. water
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. sour cream (reduced fat is fine)

Place the beef, onion, salt, and pepper in a slow cooker. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and garlic salt. Pour the broth mixture into the slow cooker. Put the lid on the cooker and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. In a small bowl, combine the flour and water and whisk to combine. The mixture should be thick but still be able to be poured. (Add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to achieve the proper consistency.) Pour the flour mixture into the slow cooker and whisk to combine. Add the mushrooms and stir to combine. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Stir in the sour cream just before serving.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings

Thanks Hanging On By A Thread for this wonderful chicken and dumpling recipe! Like K, I used the whole can of biscuits, instead of only 4. It made it less soupy but we are all about carbs in this house. :) It was such a warm, delicious comfort food to eat on a cold winter evening.

Chicken and Dumplings
Source: Hanging On By A Thread

4-6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (I cubed mine instead of shredding)
2 T. of Butter
2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Small Diced Onion
1 T. Dried Parsley
1 can Grands Flakey Refrigerated Biscuits

Put chicken, butter, soup, onion and parsley in a crock pot and cook on high 4-6 hours. As the chicken gets tender shred it with a fork. (I cooked mine for 5 hours before adding the biscuits)
Next, get your biscuits ready. Slice each biscuit into 8 pieces (the original recipe uses only 4 biscuits, I used the whole can. We love carbs at our house!). Stir into chicken mixture and cook for another hour.

If mixture is too thick you can add chicken broth or stock to thin it out.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Roasted Chipotle Black Bean & Corn Salad

This recipe comes from a good friend of mine who has her own food blog called Clean Freak. She began her journey of eating clean more than a year ago. Follow her on her journey to eat healthier, exercise more and become more knowlegeable about what we put into our bodies. She has great recipes, tips, and tricks to eating healthier.

This bean and corn salad was super simple and super healthy yet did not lack in the flavor department at all! It was the perfect side dish to go with our taco night!

Roasted Chipotle Black Bean & Corn Salad
Source: Clean Freak

1 can {organic} no salt added black beans, rinsed
1 1/2 c. frozen roasted corn (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
2 shallots, chopped (you could use a small sweet onion)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 t. cumin powder
1/4 t. Chipolte chili powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1 T. olive oil

Heat oil in pan to medium heat. Add garlic, onions, and red pepper. Saute until tender. Add cumin, chipolte, salt, corn, and black beans and stir until well blended. Continue to heat until frozen corn is thawed completely. Serve.

NOTE: If you can't find roasted corn at your grocery store you can just use sweet corn instead. If you still want a fire roasted flavor you could opt for jarred fire roasted red peppers (instead of fresh) and omit the olive oil since the peppers will have enough oil on them.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Culinary School - Week 6

Today in Cake Decorating class we reviewed our homework...buttercream roses and gum paste roses.

Then we practiced making our first person/figurine out of gum paste. Our teacher instructed us to have our gum paste person resemble a cartoon character of ourselves, but my woman was slowly turning into a 90 year old lady with wrinkled skin and all so I went with the flow and gave her a granny dress and put her hair up in a bun. Sorry I don't have a picture to show you. It's probably for the best because she was pretty funny. It was my first time however, so I imagine I can only improve from here on out.

During breads class this week we focused on whole grain breads. Several of the recipes called for "soakers". The primary function of a soaker is to soften uncooked coarsely ground grains by soaking them first in water. We made (in no particular order) Multigrain Sourdough, Whole Wheat Sourdough, Sesame Sourdough, Semolina Bread with Whole Grains, Semolina Bread with Fennel, and Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal bread. We also learned a few new ways to shape the bread: Tabatere "looks like an old tabacco pouch", Pain d'Aux "looks like a bow tie", and Viverais.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Easy No-Peel Apple Cake

I know it's only February, but I am already thinking about putting this on my Favorite Recipes of 2012 list once January 2013 comes rolling around. This cake was just that amazing! Super moist on the inside, crunchy on top from the sugar, and even better with a little whipped cream on top. It didn't last long so I guess I'll have to make another one soon!

Easy No-Peel Apple Cake
Source: The Well-Fed Newlyweds

For the Cake:
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. baking soda
4 c. apples, diced into ½-inch pieces (about 4 medium apples)

For the Topping:
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
1/4 c. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Combine all of the cake ingredients except the apples in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir until just combined. Stir in the apples by hand. Spread the batter into the prepared baking dish. Top with the sugar and pecans. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake in the baking dish on a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kit Kat M&M Cake

Did everyone have a nice Valentine's Day? Here's what I made for my hubby. I made him take it to work so that I wouldn't consume 20 Kit Kats and 1/2 bag of M&M's in one day! This awesome idea came from Pinterest.

Just ice any 2-layer cake with buttercream (I used a yellow cake with white icing), attach regular size Kit Kats to the side (I think I used 12 or 13 packs), dump a bag of M&M's on top and decorate with a ribbon. Super easy, yet super impressive!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Culinary School - Weeks 4 and 5

I'm a bit behind in keeping you up-to-date about culinary school. During the last couple of weeks in Cake Decorating class we were introduced to fondant. What a neat medium to work with! We practiced making roses out of gum paste and also had to decorate a cake with fondant. Each student was assigned a certain cake to decorate (anniversary, baby shower, bridal shower, graduation, etc). I was assigned a 3-tier bridal shower cake and the colors had to be pink, grey, and black. It was up to me to sketch a draft and recreate it during class. Here's my cake. I was very excited about it...very clean and modern...just my style!

In Artisan Breads class we made Whole Wheat Sourdough, Olive Sourdough, Hawaiian Sourdough, Pan de Ciocclate, Sweet Rustic w/dried cherries, Normandy Apple and Sourdough Raisin two weeks ago. Last week we focused on flat breads and it was also our midterm. We made lavash, pita, bagels, pretzels, conchas, grissini, and more sourdough.

For my Show Pieces class we are still working on our chocolate show piece for the upcoming chocolate competition.

That's all for now. I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole

I love a recipe that is a meal all in itself. Here's a good one for you! A Tex-Mex casserole that is very filling and a family pleaser too!

I went a little heavy on the rice so it was a bit dryer than I would have liked. If I would have stuck to the 2 c. that the recipe calls for then it would have been perfect. My hubby poured some extra salsa on top of his to make it more moist. Either way, it was delicious!

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole
Source: The Well-Fed Newlyweds

2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
4 c. cooked brown (or white) rice
1 c. corn
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 oz. can diced green chiles
1 c. sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 c. salsa
1 c. cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, etc.), plus extra for the topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, rice, corn, black beans, chiles, sour cream, salsa, and cheese. Mix well. Transfer the chicken mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle a little extra cheese on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly.

Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Homemade Country Biscuits

These are some biscuits that I learned how to make in one of my previous culinary classes. I whipped them up for "brinner" the other night, added some eggs and sausage patties to make a whole meal out of it. Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?

Country Biscuits
Source: On Baking: A Textbook of Baking & Pastry Fundamentals

1 lb. 4 oz. All-purpose flour
0.4 oz. Salt
1 oz. Sugar
1 oz. Baking powder
7 oz. Unsalted butter, cold
12 oz. Milk
Egg wash, as needed

1. Line sheet pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Sift dry ingredients together, making sure they are blended thoroughly.

3. Cut in the butter. Mixture should look mealy.

4. Add milk and stir, combining only until mixture holds together.

5. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface; knead until it forms one mass, approximately 5 or 6 kneadings.

6. Roll dough to thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut with a floured cutter and place on paper-lined sheet pan. Lightly brush with egg wash.

7. Bake at 425 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes.

8. Remove biscuits to a wire rack to cool. (Optional: Brush with melted butter.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken and Noodle Bowl

My family is a big fan of teriyaki sauce...especially home-made teriyaki sauce. This is the same teriyaki sauce I blogged about last year. You can see that post HERE. Only this time, it's made into a Teriyaki Noodle Bowl. This meal was delicious and a huge hit at my house. Definitely putting this on the must make again list.

Teriyaki Chicken and Noodle Bowl
Source: Jamie Cooks It Up!

4 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
3 large carrots
1 red pepper
8 mushrooms
1/2 onion
1 16 oz. package angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti noodles

Teriyaki Sauce: (Tutorial found HERE)
1 1/2 c. cold water
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 t. garlic powder (or granulated garlic)
3 T. corn starch
1 t. sesame oil

With a good pair of kitchen scissors, cut up your chicken thighs into strips. Heat a large skillet up of medium high heat. Add your oil and toss those thighs right in. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let them cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. You want them to get nice and golden brown on each side.

While your chicken is cooking, chop up your veggies. You want to be sure they are chopped pretty small (about 3/4 of an inch.) PS...start the water boiling for your noodles, cook them according to package directions.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and let it hang out on a plate. Add the other Tablespoon of oil to your hot pan. Add the veggies and cook until they are crisp tender.

While your veggies are cooking mix all Teriyaki Sauce ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

Once your veggies are cooked, remove them from the pan and let them hang out with the chicken.

Pour your Teriyaki Sauce into the hot pan. Whisk it around until it thickens up. This should only take about 3 minutes.

Serve it up! Place hot noodles in a bowl or on a plate. Put the chicken and veggies on top, pour the sauce over the whole kit and caboodle and you are ready to eat.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

Soup is one of the things that gets me through these cold wintery days. We had this for dinner the other day and my whole family ate it up. My almost 2 year old LOVED the corkscrew pasta I added to it and kept asking for more! Too bad she kept picking out all the carrots, celery, and chicken! :)

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
Source: Real Mom Kitchen

4 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 small onion, fined diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
5 carrots, diced
1 pkg chicken gravy
2 c. uncooked noodles (I used corkscrew noodles)
2 c. diced, cooked chicken

In a large stock pot, place 12 cups of water. Add the bouillon, onion, celery , and carrots to the water. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling cook for 10 minutes. Add the uncooked noodles and cook until noodles are tender. Next stir in the cooked chicken.

In a bowl, whisk together the gravy mix with 1 cup of water. Drizzle the gravy mixture into the soup while stirring until all is mixed in. Let the soup cook for 1 minute more and serve.

Serves 10.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Granola Energy Balls

For one of my culinary classes, I have to leave the house at 1pm and don't get home until 10:45pm. We don't get a long enough break to actually pack a dinner or large snack and since it's a bread class it takes a long time to mix, proof, and bake the bread before there is anything edible. We usually don't sample our work until around 9pm. Needless to say, I usually get VERY hungry in between that time. I saw these energy balls on Pinterest and made them a couple weeks ago. They taste great and are good for me. They are perfect to pop in my mouth during the few short breaks that we do get. They are the key to keeping my energy level up and stop my stomach from growling all evening.

Granola Energy Balls
Source: The Marathon Mom

2 c. oats
2 c. coconut flakes
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. ground flaxseed
1 c. chocolate chips
2/3 c. honey
2 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon (optional)

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Roll into bite-size balls. Store in fridge.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Raspberry Brie Tarts

Need an appetizer idea for Superbowl Sunday? Try these cute little raspberry brie tarts. Super easy to throw together and even easier to pop into your mouth! I served them over the holidays and they were gone within minutes!

Raspberry Brie Tarts
Source: Pillsbury

2 (2.1-oz.) pkg. frozen mini fillo pastry shells (30 shells)
1 (8 oz.) round Brie cheese
3 T. raspberry spreadable fruit

Heat oven to 350°F. Place pastry shells on ungreased large cookie sheet. Cut cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Place 3 cheese cubes into each fillo shell. Bake at 350°F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove partially baked shells from oven. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon spreadable fruit over cheese in each shell. Return to oven; bake an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until spreadable fruit is melted.

Serve warm.