May 18, 2015

The Greatest Toasting Bread

I don't know about you but I actually enjoy getting new kitchen tools, gadgets and appliances as gifts. Cookbooks are a perfect anytime gift too. 
Do you have favorite kitchen related gift you received that you are still super happy about? 

My all time favorite kitchen appliance gift I have, has got to be my KitchenAid Mixer. My husband gave me this for Christmas a few moons ago and I love it! It came with a meat grinder attachment, which I have used many times and am always trying to come up with new ways to use too. One of these days I will probably need to get the sausage maker attachment, so I can make my own sausage links.

The smell of fresh baked bread is such an inviting and comforting smell. I have a confession to make: I have a fresh baked bread addiction that I refuse to give up. I could give up other carbs but not my homemade breads!

If you are looking for a cookbook with easy to follow baking recipes with helpful explanations and  techniques to use then you should give Julia Child's "Baking with Julia" a try. 

I have to admit I didn't know that Julia Child had "just" baking cookbooks but my husband found this one for me and it now has a special spot on my cookbook shelf.

The first recipe I made using this cookbook was the White Loaves (pg. 81). I decided to try this recipe after seeing the color picture of some seriously scrumptious looking toasted bread on page 56 of this book. When I saw the picture of this bread, the first thought that came to my mind was: "I need this bread with a slab of butter right about now."

The recipe makes 2 loaves of bread but can easily be cut in half to only make 1 loaf. **My tip is if you have the flour on hand to make the 2 loaves do it and freeze one after it has completely cooled.

adapted from Julia Child-Baking with Julia

**From start to finish you will need about 3 hours to make 2 loaves**

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 TBS. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
6-7 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour*
2 tsp. salt
¼ cup butter, softened


Pour 1/2 cup of the water into your mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, mixture should look foamy.

Add the rest of the water and about half of the flour. Stir (using the dough hook) until well blended. Now add about 3 1/2 cups flour, the salt and butter and stir until well combined and shaggy. *You will need to turn the mixture off a few times to make sure you scrap down the sides of the bowl.

Continue to knead, about 8-10 minutes or until it’s smooth and elastic. If the dough does not look smooth and elastic at this point add a little (one tablespoon at a time) more flour until it looks and feels smooth.

You can do the kneading by hand if preferred or if you do not have a dough hook attachment for your mixer. Just make sure to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface.

Now it’s time to shape the dough into a ball and to put it into a lightly greased bowl (bowl should be large enough for the dough to double in size). Cover loosely with a tea towel and let it sit for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until it’s doubled in size.

Meanwhile butter two 4″x8″ loaf pans and set aside for later.

If your dough has doubled in size you are ready to punch the dough down. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Now on a lightly floured surface pat each piece into a rectangle that’s about 9″x12″
Picture Credit goes to Max at Kvalifood
 Starting at a short end, fold it in thirds, like a letter. Place seam side down in the loaf pans, tucking the ends in. Cover with the tea towel again and leave them for an hour, until they puff right up out of the pan. While you are waiting for the dough to rise again go ahead and preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the middle of the oven. 

Once the dough has doubled in size again you are ready to bake it. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. Remove the loaves from the baking pans as soon as you take them out of the oven and put them on cooling racks to cool.

**Remember don't cut your bread until it is almost completely cool....I know, I know freshly baked bread is amazing BUT if you can control your urge to cut right into the loaf you really should. It still has some magic to work while it's sitting on the cooling racks.

>>I was not paid to mention the products or websites used in this post, the information given is based on my opinion only<< BUT I wouldn't mind doing sponsored post from time to time if asked ;-)

May 14, 2015

Insanely Awesome Recipes You Have to Add to Your Meal Plan

I don't know about you but the urge to add new recipe ideas to my already never-ending list of "Have to Try" seems to truly never end. I just can't help myself and the internet doesn't make this addiction any easier to handle....thanks a lot social media for making me a recipe hoarding addict!

So with that being said here are a few of my finds from this week. A few have already been tried and are going to my "Keeper" files. The others are going to my "Have to Try" list. Please tell me I am not the only one that has this list!

>>Loving this design<<

Breakfast....Bagel Bombs....Yes, please
Will make again.....Sriracha Caramel Corn....why?  Because it's addicting
Delish....Whiskey Slushes.....yum
I wonder.....Better Than Girl Scout Cookies......because I need to be convinced
Quick Dinner Idea.....Enchilada Spaghetti & Meatballs....change things up
Taste of Germany.....Bratwurst Sliders....OMG
Bacon...Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza....enough said
How about this Recipe?......Simple One Hour Bread.....yup, simple and great

If you have a great find of the week please do share. I not only found new recipes to try out but I also found a new blogs to win, if you ask me. What are some of your favorite blogs to follow?

January 7, 2015

Homemade Pretzels

When you hear the name "Glitter Ball" what do you think you are being asked to go to? I have to admit when we were first asked to go to the Glitter Ball with our friends I thought for sure that the we were being invited to an actual "Ball". You know one where you get dressed up in gowns you will probably never wear again....WRONG....the Glitter Ball has nothing to do with fancy gowns and suits. Its one crazy costume party hosted by the Australian Club here in Dhaka. It's the type of party where you come up with a theme for your table and dress up, possibly even do a skit/performance and if you are lucky win prizes.

The biggest challenge with the costume/theme is that you want your table to be noticed and you want to have an idea that no has done before. A lot harder then you think! One couple in our team attended the 2013 Glitter Ball so thankfully they were able to fill us in on some of the ideas people had before us. Last years winning team did a KISS performance! This year there was a team dressed up like characters from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and did an awesome performance.  So much fun!!

Here is my 2014 Glitter Ball team/theme:

So with our theme we decided we had to have something to go along with our costumes besides the awesome engrave beer mugs we had custom made....we decided on pretzels!! Perfect snack to go with our theme. But instead of just a few we decided to spend 6hrs on baking enough pretzels to last us through the night and t A whole basket full of them!! For us to eat and for us to share.
We miss having fresh pretzels from the local bakeries in Germany....but let me tell you....I have filled a void our family has had ever since we moved away from Germany. These taste and look like the real deal, as real as you can get pretzels to look & taste without using food grade lye.......not that I think I would actually use it if I did have it available thought LOL!

How do you like eating your pretzels? Dipped in cheese, mustard or butter? Or is there something I haven't tried yet that I am missing out on??

1+1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 Tb brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
4 +1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c butter, melted
Vegetable oil
2 quarts + 2 cups water
2/3 c baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 TBS water
Coarse Salt

To begin, place the 1 1/2 cups of warm water in a mixing bowl, with the brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the top of the water, and let it sit about 10 minutes until it gets bubbly. Place your bowl under the mixer, fitted with a dough hook, and add in the flour and butter. Let the mixer run for about 4 minutes, until the dough comes away from the bowl and is nice and smooth. Form the dough into a ball, and place it in a clean, oiled bowl, Turn the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and let it rest in a warm place for an hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, grab a large pot, and put 2 quarts plus 2 cups of water in it, along with the baking soda. Bring the water to a full boil.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and lightly spray the paper with oil. Set aside.

Now grab your dough while the water is heating up.
Turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface. Cut the dough into 8 equal portions.
Take one portion and roll it into a long snake, about 2 feet long. To shape the pretzel, bring the ends up; twist once, and then again. Turn the ends down towards the bottom, and press the ends gently against the dough where it crosses. With a slotted spatula, gently place the pretzel in the boiling water for **30 seconds**

Lift the pretzel out, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining 7 pretzels.

Beat the yolk with a tablespoon of water in a small dish, and brush the tops of the pretzels with the mixture. Sprinkle with some coarse salt. Bake the pretzels for 12-14 minutes or until dark golden brown.