Friday, July 23, 2010

Andes Mint Puddle Cookies

I got this recipe from my friend Anjela down the street. She is a dessert master!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 package Betty Crocker's Devils Food Cake Mix (Any type of dark chocolate cake mix would work)
2 eggs
3/4 Cup Shortening (I always use butter flavored)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
2 boxes
Andes Mints

Combine all ingredients, EXCEPT the mints, with an electric mixer.

Scoop 1 inch balls on to UNGREASED cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake! Unwrap mints while your waiting for the cookies to bake.

Remove from oven. Immediately after you remove the cookies from the oven, place 1 Ande's mint on top of each cookie. Let it sit for a minute or two until it is melted. Once it is melted, swirl the chocolate slightly with your finger tip or the tip of a spoon, so that you now have a circle instead of a rectangle.

Let cool completely before serving.

Soft Gingersnaps

This recipe comes from my friend Marta's blog. The first time I made them, they instantly became one of my staples. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cup Shortening
2 cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Dark Molasses
1/2 tsp. Salt
4 tsp. Baking soda
2 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp. Cloves
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Ginger
4 cups Flour

Cream together all the ingredients except the flour. When dough is creamy, gradually add the flour. Form dough into small balls and roll in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and flatten each cookie with your thumbprint.

Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes. (The key is to under-bake them a little for truly soft cookies.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

French Bread

The Most Fabulous French Bread

I always get a little excited when I try a new bread recipe. I know, I'm a food geek, but it's true! I wandered my way over to a food blog called Jamie Cooks It Up! and was mesmerized by her so-called Fabulous French Bread. Hmmm...fabulous you say? I've been on the hunt for a wonderful recipe for French bread. To date, I've tried 5 different recipes and each was delicious, but...something was missing. French Bread recipes are simple by nature, but each seemed to be more work for no more added yumminess in the final product.

But I have to say, this recipe truly is fabulous. Try it. Read the instructions a few times before starting. There are several steps, but they're not difficult and just require a little focus, especially when you're making it for the first time. Start to finish it took me just under 2 hours to have these beautiful loaves. Amazing!

Jamie has several more pictures than I do. I blame it on trying to make grilled chicken crepes, double chocolate cookies and the French bread all at the same time. You can see the step-by-step pictures in her post here.

Note: Both Jamie and I used a mixer in the instructions below. You don't have to have one, but it's certainly a time saver!

Fabulous French Bread

Yield: 3 loaves
  • 1 TBSP shortening
  • 1 TBSP coarse salt {or 1/2 TBSP regular salt}
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 TBSP yeast
  • 5 - 6 cups white all purpose flour {I used bread flour}
  • 2 rounded TBSP dough enhancer {my addition}
  • 1 egg
Step 1: Place the 1 cup hot water in the microwave for 3 minutes to get it boiling.

Step 2: Dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Stir it around until it is all mixed.

Step 3: Combine the salt, shortening, and sugar in the bottom of your mixer with a fork. The dough hook doesn't work very well. You need to smash up the mixture until it resembles the picture above. {I used my whisk attachment on high. It took about a minute and was perfect.}

Step 4: Pour the boiling water over the shortening mixture. Mix slightly to combine.

Step 5: Pour the cold water in next.

Step 6: Then pour the warm water and yeast into the mixer.

Step 7: Begin to add the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the side of your mixer. Add the dough enhancer at this time, along with the flour. The dough should be balmy but not sticky.

Step 8: Let the dough mix on high for 8 minutes.

Step 9: Let the dough rise in the mixer for about 20 minutes. {This step can actually be skipped if you are in a hurry, but I recommend it as it allows the dough the chance to rest and improves the flavor and texture.}

Step 10: Separate the dough into three parts and place on a large jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray. Let the dough sit for about 5 minutes. Letting it sit will make it MUCH easier to shape.

Step 11: Spread the dough out with your hands. Stretch it slightly until you have an oval about 1" in thickness. Roll the dough up into a log shape. Take the ends of the log and fold them into the middle, with the ends touching. Turn the loaf seam-side down onto a greased pan. I used my french bread pans, but you could also use a jelly roll pan. Repeat with remaining dough.

Step 12: Using a sharp knife, quickly cut 3 diagonal slits into the top of each loaf.

Step 13: Whisk egg until frothy. Cover loaves with egg wash, making sure to get in each slit.

Step 14: Place the loaves in a warm 170 degree oven and let rise for about 15 minutes.

Step 15: Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and re-set your timer for 15 minutes. {Leave the loaves in while the oven increases in temperature.}

Step 16: Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and turn the pan around in the oven. Bake for another 10-12 minutes, until the loaves are a nice golden brown.


Also- Don't be intimidated by all the steps! I simply wanted to break the recipe down and make it easier to follow. Like I said, read it over a couple times, print it out and have it right by you in the kitchen. It really is easy!