Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finally! Hamburger Buns

Ever been to a good burger place and made the comment "These buns really make all the difference!"

I feel like that with most sandwich type food.  Good bread = good food.

Naturally I was thrilled to find this recipe and make it into my dinner.

Hamburger Buns (Printable version)

Hamburger Buns


2 cups warm milk
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
2 packages (or 4 1/2 tsp.) instant yeast (I just used my regular active-dry yeast)
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup melted margarine/butter (cooled a little so it won't burn the yeast)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (you could use half whole-wheat and half white, rising will be longer)

1. In a large bowl, stir together the warm milk, warm water, sugar and yeast.  Let stand for about five minutes. 

2. Mix in the salt and margarine/butter.  

Gradually stir in the flour.  Start with about 3 cups, then add a cup at a time until you've added 5 cups total.  Watch the dough.  If it isn't forming into a ball at all, add 1/4 c. at a time until you have a soft dough.  

Knead or mix the dough until it looks smooth and doesn't have lumps of flour.

Lumpy Dough
Smooth Dough

3. Divide into as many as 25 pieces.  I made 16. 

Wear an Apron

Form into balls.  

Place on baking sheet about an inch to two inches apart.  Press flat with your hand.  They will rise to have a nice rounded top, but if you don't press them down, they won't be wide enough to use as a bun.  You want more of a half-sphere than a ball when it's cooked. 

4.  Cover, and let it rise for at least 20 minutes.  The rising time should depend on how warm the room is where they are rising.  Mine rose for 35 minutes.  You are not trying to "double" the dough.  If you use instant yeast it should be faster. (The recipe calls for instant, but when I don't have it, I just plan on a little longer rising time.)

TIP = If you place the dough, uncovered, in a cool oven (you have not preheated at all yet) with a pot of boiling water underneath the rack, the dough will stay soft and rise faster.

5.  Preheat oven to 375F.

6.  Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes.  Cool slightly, then split in half horizontally for burgers.

If they look this good, imagine what they taste like!

Hamburger Buns


Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm gonna be published!

Luckily, to be published today just means that I have to be willing to foot the bill and print out a book for myself :-)

I have another project I've been pretty excited about.  In looking for a wedding present that would be personal, I decided to make my new sister-in-law (and my brother, but who am I kidding) a cookbook.  It will hopefully help as they start out.  With easy recipes, everyday dinner type things.  Alas, I couldn't stick with easy.

It will now include:
A Year of Daily Dinner Menus
Baking Tips
Shopping Lists
and My Super Genius Menu Planning Spreadsheet.

Seriously, it's ssssuper Genius!  Every recipe I know, every idea I have for dinner in every category I can think of.  On one page.  Easy to reference, easy to share.  All the rest of the recipes in a good ol' fashioned cook book, with photos, and a cd so you can put them on your computer and copy and print them or change them any way you want.

I'll post some progress pictures as I get it together.  If it sounds like something you'd be interested in getting a copy of, the meal planner or the whole package, let me know.  I'll put you on a list and get some pricing info as I get it.

I'll be printing it out for them in a nice hard copy, but for you I can do hard or soft copy format, or even jus the cd.

I can hardly explain how excited I am!

I have finished the photos, just not the post for the hamburger buns.  Keep staying tuned for that.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Things I've made that I hope to tell you about soon

Hamburger Buns
Glazed yeast donuts
Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

Also, I just bought a salad spinner and some new cast iron cookware on Amazon.  Tomorrow I'll be playing with my new toys and posting for a while about how to live and eat outside in the spring and summer.

If there's something you'd like for me to try, ask me.


Electric Skillet dinner outside, then using the same skillet to make donuts outside.  Electricity outside of the house, on the porch separated from the house, was a brilliant idea.  I can not only cook outside, and eat outside, but I'm at least half as likely to burn the house down while I do it.

Dutch oven cobbler
Grilled pizza
Fish and grilled veggies and salad all cut up outside

Really, it's all the same as inside, just avoiding all heat and clean up inside.

Time to stock up on paper plates and plastic utensils, and find a cheap set of deck chairs!

Monday, April 25, 2011

5 minute food processor Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt or Sorbet

Not my photo, but the ice cream is as yummy as this looks :-)

This one seriously only takes 5 minutes.  It's soft serve ice cream, and the flavor possibilities are endless.

Easy 1-2-3

10-12 ounces frozen fruit (I really just measure about two cups)
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream or yogurt or fruit juice

1 - Combine fruit and sugar in food processor for about 30 seconds.  Until you can't tell one from the other.  Few or no chunks.
2- Add cream/yogurt/juice until you've reached desired consistency.  Start with 1/2 cup, and then add more if needed.
3 - Serve and Enjoy.

Tips: Don't try to change the order of instructions.  If you add the fruit after the cream/yogurt, it won't chop up very finely and might leave chunks larger than you want.

You can use a regular blender for this, but it will likely take a little more time.  If you use a blender, you will want to add the fruit a little bit at a time, and layer it with the cream/yogurt/juice as it goes in.

If you want a thicker freeze, add a little more fruit at the beginning.  15 ounces of fruit makes a nice thick ice cream.

If you want a scoop-able ice cream for later, freeze the soft serve for an hour or more.  It will scoop up just like normal and even go into a cone for optimal kinder enjoyment.

Flavor combo suggestions:
Peach and raspberry
Mango and Lime (freeze peeled lime wedges ahead of time)
Mixed berry
Strawberry peach
Pineapple Banana

Seriously, make some right now.  You'll thank yourself.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Delicious Jumbo Cupcakes!

Pastel Cupcakes

1 lb.  ground beef, browned
1 10oz. bag frozen, or 15 oz. canned green peas
2-3 cups prepared mashed potatoes
4 Tbsp. Bisto gravy pearls
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 tsp. dried onions (fresh would be nice too.)

What?!  That's not how you make cupcakes?

April Fools!

(And yes, I know we are late.  There was a great deal of sickness on April 1st, so this one showed up a few days later.)

This recipe is really an adaptation of Mince & Totties.

Mince & Totties is similar to Shepherd's Pie.  It's Scottish for Meat Gravy (Mince) and Mashed Potatoes (Totties).  Served traditionally with a side of peas.

Mashed Potatoes, Bisto, Sweet Peas, Worcestershire Sauce

I haven't used instant potatoes in ten years.  For this, I thought it would be easier.  I needed a really creamy batch so that I could easily pipe them onto the meat mixture.  Just follow the directions on the box, adding food coloring to the water.

It worked beautifully for that, but was kind of gummy.  Next time I'll just do a really good job of pureeing my homemade mashed potatoes.

The only recipe you really need is for the Mince:

1 lb. ground beef, browned
4 Tbsp. Bisto (find it in the British food section of your grocery store, or at Cost Plus - In a pinch, use a packet of brown gravy mix.)
1 1/2 tsp. dried onions
2/3 cup water.

Drain browned beef.  Return to pot.  Add onions and bisto.  Mix well to coat the meat.  Add water and Worcestershire.  Stir until heated through.  The Bisto will thicken quickly.  Add more for a thicker gravy.

Minced Meat Gravy

Now to assemble the cupcakes as we ate them:

Start with Jumbo cupcake liner, in a jumbo cupcake pan.  (In hindsight, a silicone liner would have been awesome because the paper fell apart under the wet peas.)

Layar peas first, then meat in each cup.

Then pipe on the potatoes to look like frosting.

I made it easier, because the potatoes were very hot, by putting the Ziploc bag into a storage container for filling.

Cut off the tip of the bag, and pipe in a circle  (careful, it's HOT!):

All Done!

To do Mince and Totties right, it has to be served with HP Sauce.  Again, in the British food aisle or at Cost Plus or other specialty stores.

If you can't find it, you could substitute with A1, but it's just not the same.

I had my staff clean up after dinner.

You missed a spot!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

Ahh biscuits!  These are my favorite!  You can do so many things with a biscuit, and they are so easy.  I do not ever, ever, ever buy refrigerated canned biscuits.  I think they are gross, especially when you compare them with the real thing.

So, I had an epiphany several weeks ago when my sister told me she made her biscuits sweet, for breakfast.  I make biscuits for lots of things, adding ingredients to complement the meal, but for some strange reason that had never occurred to me!

Of course I had to try it out.  I added 1 Tbsp of white sugar to my regular recipe, and a generous 1/4 cup of dried cranberries.  De-LISH-ous! (Yes, I know how to actually spell that word.)  My mother-in-law, whom I adore btw, said they were like Scones.  She's Scottish, like actually from Scotland, so she knows a good scone.  I also think the way she says scone -Skon- is fun.

It was great for breakfast with a side of eggs and bacon.  I think the white sugar added to the consistency of a scone, whereas honey would have kept the dough a little tighter, and more biscuity.  Food for thought, and another batch.

So after that very long intro, meet biscuits:

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits (Makes about 8 biscuits): adapted from Pinch My Salt

1 1/4 c. cake flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 c. buttermilk or milk (I usually don't have buttermilk, and hubby prefers the taste with just milk.)

Favorite Add Ins (stir in before adding liquid):
Sugar or Honey
1/4 c. dried fruit
1/4 c. cheese, especially parmesan or cheddar
1 T. herbs

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  This is important because it takes a long time for an oven to get to 500 degrees.  Open a window and turn on a fan too, because your house will warm right up!

Prepare ingredients: cut butter into small chunks, place in bowl in fridge.  Measure out buttermilk and set aside (or back in the fridge.)

Flour your workspace, and keep extra flour on the side for your hands and dough cutters.
Mix the dough: whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until very well blended.

Add butter, and cut into flour using pastry cutter (my preferred method) or fingertips, until mixture resembles course crumbs.

Make a well in the center of your mixture.  Pour in the milk and stir *lightly* until dough comes together in a ball.

This is my "ball" of dough.  Don't over mix.

Knead and Cut:

Dump the dough mixture onto floured work surface.  With floured hands lightly knead 5-10 times (just pull up a corner or side of the dough, tuck in into the middle, and pull up another, etc. Turning until the dough is tight.)

Pat into a circle (or gently use your rolling pin) 3/4 - 1 inch thick.
Super flattering hand pose

Dip cutter into flour.  Cut biscuits *without* twisting the cutter.

Form the scraps into a biscuit shape instead of re-kneading to cut another.

Bet you can't tell which two unfortunate pastries were hand formed.

Place biscuits onto baking sheet, or into pie pan (or in my case, a preheated cast iron skillet), with the sides touching as much as possible.  Brush the tops with melted butter if desired.

Bake in the middle of preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.  Brush again with melted butter if desired.  Remove to cooling rack for a few minutes.


My modifications usually include doubling the recipe, then baking in a large (I think it's 12")preheated cast iron skillet.  I heat the skillet while the oven preheats, and add 1/4 cup of butter to the pan letting that melt while I knead and cut the dough.  I have also added buttermilk powder with the dry ingredients, and water instead of milk for the wet (according to the directions on the powder can.)  Then remove the skillet from the oven, place shaped dough into the skillet, starting from the center to make sure they all touch.  With so much dough, the temperature needs to be adjusted.  For the doubled recipe I bake at 400 for 13 minutes, and then 5 more minutes at 375.  The tops should not brown much, but the bottoms will be golden.

I also just saw a tutorial where they dip the cut biscuits in melted butter just before baking.  Seems like a healthy alternative to my plain ol' baking method, so I might give that a shot next time :-)

It really is easy, and only takes a few more minutes than opening those pre-canned ones and putting them in the oven.  Let me know if you try it!  Ten minutes of actual prep, twenty minutes if you're letting the dough relax before rolling out.

For a meal:
Use 1 pound ground sausage, like Jimmy Dean.  Brown It.
Grab your favorite country gravy mix, like Southeastern Mills or McCormick.  Follow directions on the bag.  Add a teaspoon or two of dried Rosemary.  (I occasionally make it from scratch, but really, this is just as good.)

Hire help.
Mix in the cooked sausage.

Pour gravy over warm biscuits.  I like to pull my biscuits apart and pour the gravy over the top of two halves.

Biscuits and Gravy
It helps to have such an excited onlooker!

Do you have a favorite adaptation or add-in for biscuits?  Did you try this?