Fourth of July Feast Week: Homemade Marshmallows – I Want to Punch Martha Stewart

One thing that you should know about me, if you haven’t already guessed it, is that I have an obsession with Martha Stewart. Not so much her as a person, but her brand. I love “her” style, garden, house, crafts, food ideas, dinner party deco, etc. You name it, I love it. I know that if it has her name on it, it has to be somewhat awesome (unless it’s some of her crafting supplies which I haven’t really gotten into). I want to be her (minus the whole prison thing..). When faced with any sort of domestic situation “W.W.M.D?” (What Would Martha Do?) continuously flashes through my head. So when I went in search of a homemade marshmallow recipe to try out for the Fourth, I figured I’d go straight to my reliable source. I did research with other recipes to see if there were any big differences, or if people had a different method, and it was all pretty much the same. Everyone said it was so “simple and easy! And oh so delicious!” I thought “why not?” and gave it a go.

Readers, I am here to tell you that they are lying.

Yes, putting together the ingredients might’ve been simple enough. But honestly, some recipes need to come with warnings. Like “Do not attempt if by yourself and have a 2 year old child running around throwing diapers in the microwave.” “Do not attempt if you’re already irritated.” “Do not attempt if you are trying to get a family of three packed up and ready to go on a 4 day vacation.” “Do not attempt if you are kinda weak.”

If it had said all these things, I would’ve listened and waited. But I didn’t, readers. Everyone said it was so simple. How was I supposed to know?

I am a very careful recipe follower. I read and reread to make sure I have everything right and am doing everything right. Baking, to me, is like surgery. I study the books. One wrong move and you might ruin the whole thing. So let me tell you that I followed that darn recipe through and through. At the end it says “pour into the prepared greased-parchment paper lined pan and smooth out with an offset spatula”. (Just to let you know I didn’t need to look at the recipe for that line. I had it memorized.)

What it didn’t say was “ok, now this stuff is going to be sticky as crap. It won’t simply just pour, you have to have your left elbow at a slightly obtuse angle and your rotator cuff at a perpendicular obtuse angle while holding a 7 lb bowl filled with marshmallow fluff, and then on top of that pulling the “fluff” (which should be called tar), out of the bowl and into a pan with paper that will slide all to high heaven as you aim the helpless mess into it.”

Are you starting to get a mental image?

To help with the visual let us paint my child, who was supposed to be playing nicely in his room, charging all around the kitchen with his Batmobile, who then started taking the Swiffer mop, that I had just cleaned the floor with, and spread the crumbs from breakfast and dog hair all back to where it originally came from. As said earlier, he then thought it would be a hoot to put his diaper that I had forgotten to throw away, into the microwave. Quickly after he started filling the dog bowl with dog food, and figured it would be extra nice to over fill it and feed the floor as well. All the while howling like the Hounds of Baskerville. Except this time, Sherlock Holmes would not be saving me…

Pan over to where you see me furiously scrapping the “fluff” into the pan and almost every movement brings unwanted “fluff” onto either my arm, the handle of the spatula, or my hand which then makes it more strings of marshmallow to flowing from the bowl. I couldn’t touch anything. I knew if I did, we would be glued together for what would seem like eternity. I especially knew I couldn’t grab my child who was creating the above scene, so I just had to stand there and yell at him (more like a loud, firm talking…ugh or yelling :/ ) to go back to his room. He just stared blankly at me.

I knew he knew what I meant, and he knew that I couldn’t do a darn thing to follow through. AARGH!

I decided to give up on the flimsy spatula and go for a wooden spoon. That wasn’t working as effectively as I wanted. I had the bright idea to use my hands and scoop. With all the chaos going on and not thinking very well, I forgot to put oil on my hands.

I’ll let you sit and stew on that bright idea for a moment.

During that battle, marshtar had dripped on the side of the bowl, which was against my shirt from holding onto the bowl. Now not only did I have to get the cemented bowl detached from my shirt, but without my hands since they were completely incapable of handling anything without inheriting a thousand strands of white goo (that I’m convinced is the same substance they use to glue the tiles onto the space shuttles), that I then had to do a convulsion/dance type movement that would even make Miley Cyrus cringe.

These darn things had better be freaking worth it.

I’m also convinced that Martha does not make these things. Her multiple amount of helpers must do it. If I had as much money as she did, I would make someone make them for me too. She’s no dummy. We all know she’s built her empire up from the bottom. She’s put her time in. My hats off to you Martha, but good Lord, could you at least let us know that we’re not going to look as perfect as you in the end?

I’m sharing Martha’s recipe. Just so you know exactly how she told me to do it.

  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

 

STEP 1

Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with oil. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Brush parchment with oil; set aside.

STEP 2

Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes.

The sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water on the stove waiting to boil.

The sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water on the stove waiting to boil.

STEP 3

Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.

STEP 4

Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours.

 

Gelatin and sugar mixture  together Michael Jackson Style... Beat it. --2 minutes in

Gelatin and sugar mixture together Michael Jackson Style… Beat it. –2 minutes in

Gelatin and sugar mixture  together Michael Jackson Style... Beat it. --8-10 minutes in

Gelatin and sugar mixture together Michael Jackson Style… Beat it. –8-10 minutes in

Gelatin and sugar mixture  together Michael Jackson Style... Beat it. --2 minutes inGelatin and sugar mixture  together Michael Jackson Style... Beat it. -- The full 12 minutes, with the vanilla as well

Gelatin and sugar mixture together Michael Jackson Style… Beat it. –2 minutes inGelatin and sugar mixture together Michael Jackson Style… Beat it. — The full 12 minutes, with the vanilla as well

Wait for the set….

……………………………………….

STEP 5

Sift 1 cup confectioners’ sugar onto a work surface. Unmold marshmallow onto confectioners’ sugar; remove parchment. Lightly brush a sharp knife with oil, then cut marshmallow into 2-inch squares. Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, and roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days

 

It came out nice and easy. Whew.

It came out nice and easy. Whew.

After dusting the top with powdered sugar, I used a pizza cutter to cut the marshmallow

After dusting the top with powdered sugar, I used a pizza cutter to cut the marshmallow

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Alright. So I just tried one of these suckers and to tell you the truth. It’s totally heaven. Have you ever taken a marshmallow and made it into taffy with your fingers before devouring it? It tastes like that!!  I mean don’t get me wrong, you should not do it if you fall into any of the warnings above. But I would totally recommend making these before the Fourth so you can cook these bad boys over an open fire and slap ’em on a s’more. OOOOHH LAAWWD! It’s going to make it aaall worth it…

Homemade Marshmallow's. They are so worth it!

They look pretty awesome if I do say so myself…

-The -Not as perfect as Martha- Wife

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Fourth of July Feast Week: Breakfast Option- Cinnamon Cake Doughnuts

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Cinnamon Doughnuts–with cinnamon icing and cinnamon sugar

Fourth of July is a week away! If your family is anything like mine, this is a full-blown, go all out, eat till you look like Violet Beauregarde hanging out at the lake waiting your turn to have a near death experience, tubing, while my mother drives the boat towards the biggest waves she can find and laughing maniacally.

 

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Violet Beauregaude– AKA: The results of our family eating over the fourth…

 

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My mother driving the boat

I love this holiday!!

The Chef and I, as you know, are big into “DIY”ing our food choices. While we might not be the “cleanest” of eaters (since we have at least 4 lbs of butter at all times in our freezer, and a half a gallon of organic heavy cream in the fridge) we both know that eating everything in moderation is ok. What’s not ok, is eating a majority of your food that is completely filled with chemicals and preservatives. So we feel a wee bit better on the ‘ol calorie counter. Not only is this better for you, health wise, but it’s also lighter on your wallet.

I honestly haven’t been on grocery shopping in months. Mostly just the staples and veggies.

Here at the Everyday Chef and Wife and our hectic little life, the more we can plan out the better. I figured it would be good to start planning out what we could make and take up for our vacay north with the Mumsie and fam, and I figured I should share some of the awesome recipes and ideas so you can plan ahead and make them as well! Lets take some stress off so we can enjoy more sunshine and festivities, eh?

(I am a Northern Michigander, yes, and proud of it)

So first recipe of feast week. The great thing about this doughnut recipe is that you can make the dough before, ball it up and fridge it until baking day (technically fry day….and the fourth is on a Friday! Ha! Destiny…). Just pull it a wee bit early to warm the dough up a tad before rolling it and cutting it. Aaand no rising time. Score!

It took me all of an hour to make all of em. Not too shabby honestly. Unlike yeast doughnuts, they’re quick, and prepare much like cookie dough except sticky. Way sticker. I thought I was doing something wrong.

But I was doing something oh so right.

Grab your aprons boys and gals and SUIT UP!

For the doughnuts (icing is down further and it’s a keeper) you’ll need:

2 Tbsp butter (warm her up to room temp or 20 seconds in the micro, quarter rotating every 5 seconds– Thanks to the big M. Stewart for that little tip because I rarely remember to pull butter out before hand. And by rarely I mean hardly ever…)

heh.

1 Cup of sugar
1 Egg
3/4 Cup of buttermilk (or 3/4 cup of regular milk with a 3/4 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar- let sit for 5 min, OR your buttermilk that you just made from your homemade butter. You know you want to make it)

Using the dough hook attachment (or a spoon if you’re a tough guy) and beat the butter, egg and the sugar together, set the buttermilk aside for a hot second and get the dry stuff ready.

3 Cups of flour
1 Tbsp baking POWDER
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

And oil for frying.

Sift (anytime you’re working with baking powder and baking soda, but especially baking powder, it’s a good idea to always sift. You will prevent those little bugger clumps gettin in and making little dern pockets that make your mouth wonder what’s up) the dry ingredients together. Alternate adding the dry mix and the buttermilk to the butter, sugar, egg mixture. “Knead”/ mix the dough for a few more quick minutes.

Ok so real talk. My dough looked super sticky and I was certain I wasn’t going to be able to roll it out without getting dern right mad at the rolling pin vs. dough, so I added 1/4 cup of flour. The end result was technically fine, but I honestly think I would’ve been fine without it, if I covered the dough properly with the right amount of flour while rolling, because I had nooo problems at all. I felt like the doughnut was just a tad on the dry side. I’m going to leave this decision up to you. But yes, I did add more flour. Would I do it again? Probably not but it didn’t make the doughnuts suck.

Real talk done. Did I just confuse the heck out of you?

In summery, if you feel like the dough is just out of control sticky, add flour. They’ll still be great no matter what. It’s a doughnut.

SO, after that war of a decision, either bag the dough into a ziplock, and refrigerate it until baking day, or if it is that glorious day, roll out yer dough! Let’s make it about 1/4 inch thick. They’re going to puff up when you fry.

Using a dough cutter…Cut out the dough. Save those doughnut holes. They fry up too! Re roll as many times as needed to get as many doughnuts as you possibly can. My little family of three ate every last crumb.

Wait! Do you have your fryer or your oil in a good pot with a couple inches of oil at 375˚? Get your candy thermometer out and check it if your fryer/ pot doesn’t have one. You don’t want the oil too cool or it’ll make the doughnuts greasy. The dough starts to absorb the oil instead of searing the outside.

*Serious side note: Please be careful where you put the hot oil. Keep an eye on it at all times if there are little hands around. It can also splatter a little too when you’re frying the doughnuts. Lets avoid the ER this holiday shall we? Or how about avoiding it just in general. K thanks for the momma worry moment. I just had to get that out. 

I let mine cook for about 20 seconds per side or until a nice golden brown.Put only a couple in at a time depending on the size of your fryer/pot. You want to be able to maneuver them/flip them over. Scoop up and place on a paper towel covered something. Let ’em cool a wee bit.

OK now for the icing.

2 Tbsp of butter
About 2 cups of powdered sugar (I honestly didn’t measure, I just kept adding until it was at a good thickness–enough to drip a little off the doughnut, but almost give it a frosting look)
A couple dashes of milk (^””^)
1/8-1/4 tsp of cinnamon

When the doughnuts are cool enough to handle but still have a bit of warmth, dip one side into the delicious bowl of icing. I used a chopstick to dip and scoop back up. Put onto a cooling rack. But lets have one right away to make sure it’s amazing.

It’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

You can also make up some cinnamon sugar…By combining cinnamon and sugar…

I promise you, if you make this for the family get together that’s happening this Independence day, they’ll be saluting you as well, soldier. Well done.

Ok now go make that dough, put it in your fridge and get ready for the weekend! You just got one meal completed.

Come back for more prepare food ideas for the weekend!

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-The Wife

 

Homemade Pop Tarts – What Pop Tarts Wishes They Were…

Homemade pop tart=perfection.

Homemade pop tart=perfection.

Do you ever remember a favorite food from your childhood that you have in your adult years, and you are just beyond disappointed in the product? Pop tarts now, have gravely fallen from the once high status they had held, at least in my books. Maybe it’s because I married The Chef and he has opened up my eyes to homemade vs. store bought, or pop tarts have changed their recipe and put more artificial flavors, preservatives and what not into their little pockets of …”stuff”.

But these…. Theeeese little babies make pop tarts cry in their aluminum sleeping bags because they have found an eternal darkness in this household.

Try them out and plop them in front of your precious cherubs and see what they say.

You just might get a “mommy of the year award”. I mean, I’d vote for you.

Let’s start with the crust shall we? The buttery, slightly sweet, perfectly crumbly crust. It’s a cinch to whip up.

Would I do it if it wasn’t??

2 1/2 cups of AP flour
3 Tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2-1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup (or a little less) cold water

Butter. Isn't this a beautiful sight?

Butter. Isn’t this a beautiful sight?

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixer. Add in the butter and vanilla until it’s completely incorporated and the dough is little pea size crumbles. Slowly add in water. You might need to mix/ knead by hand. It’s a pretty stiff dough for some mixers.

Wrap as a ball in Saran Wrap and chill for a few minutes, just so it can firm up just a tad.

Dough wrapped and ready to chill

Dough wrapped and ready to chill

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dough chilled. Ready to be rolled

Dough chilled. Ready to be rolled

On a floured surface, (or a pastry cloth) roll dough out to 1/4″ thick. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut to desired size. Mine was about 2″x 3″ or so. I had some bigger, smaller, square shaped etc. It doesn’t make a huge difference beside baking. If you have some huge ones and some super small ones, baking time might vary, so you’d want to bake the same sizes together.

That makes sense right?

Carefully lay the pieces on a sil-pat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet, laying the less floured side up. Spoon/ spread desired filling on (our strawberry filling recipe is below), being cautious as not to overfill. Place corresponding size on top of filling with the more floured side up this time (non-floury sides sandwiching the filling. That way no flour clouds up our seal). Take a small bowl of water and using your fingers, line the edges with a little water. This will help with the seal and hopefully preventing a spill out. Using either a fork or a ravioli cutter, press the two sides together. Once all the way around, use the tip of a sharp knife and make a design to let out steam while the pastries bake.

Pop them in the oven and bake for about 16 min or until slightly golden brown.

Perfect!

Perfect!

For the filling:
2 1/2 – 3 cups fresh cut strawberries.
1/4 cup sugar
2 oz. water

Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook down until mixtures becomes thick. This will take a bit. Give yourself about an hour. In blender, mash up the bigger chunks with the sauce. This make the mixture thicker.

I love the taste of the fresh strawberries. It’s sugary, yes, but not completely sickeningly sweet like pop tarts. It actually tastes like strawberries!

It’s not pictured, but I did try some with icing and it was sooooo delish. Use powdered sugar (1/2 cup) with about 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or milk) and a dash of vanilla. Add more cream or powdered sugar depending on how thick or thin you want it.

I’m not lying guys. I was dreaming about these for days.

And I may or may not be making a double bath of ’em right now.

Muahahah!!

You could try any jam that’s in your fridge too!

Could we just package these up and give this to our kids instead, because I completely missed out on these for too many years of my life.

But maybe my high-school sized me would’ve thanked me that I didn’t have these in my life.

Amiright…?

This one had a little spill over, but it didn't matter. It still rocked.

This one had a little spill over, but it didn’t matter. It still rocked.

Go bake!!

The Wife

Coconut Macaroons: Batch #1

Chocolate hand-dipped coconut macaroons.

Chocolate hand-dipped coconut macaroons.

Growing up I couldn’t stand coconut. I didn’t like the texture and when I ate it, I felt like I was eating sunscreen. The only thing I liked that had coconut in it were the Samoa Girl Scout cookies. Those were heavenly. But other than that, coconut was yuck in my book. I avoided it like the plague.

The Chef and I took our nieces to a little bakery in our town that are known for their amazing treats. We told them they could pick any goodie they wanted, and my middle niece picked a coconut macaroon hand-dipped in dark chocolate. I looked at her with a skeptical look on my face and simply asked “are you suuuure?” She replied confidently “Yes”.

Little did I know that my mind was about to be blown.

I asked for a bite, and when I sunk my teeth into that disk of bliss, I immediately regretted never going outside my comfort zone and trying this months ago. It tasted almost exactly like the cookie of my childhood. The beloved Samoa’s.

I found out that those cookies, from that bakery, got a nickname- Crackaroons. Because you literally can’t stop eating them, or stop thinking about them when you’re not eating them. I knew that I couldn’t live without these.

Coconut macaroon’s had gotten a bad rap in my book. They look dry on the exterior. I felt like it would be eating little bit of plastic confetti. Non-degradeable substance rolling around and getting stuck in the crevices between my lips and gums.

In reality, when made correctly, they are moist and the essence of caramel and a reminder of tropical beaches in every bite. Who wouldn’t love that?

Also, they’re gluten-free!! So if you have a GF friend, these are a great option to make for a get together. They’re going to love it. (Believe me, my friend who has Celiac couldn’t stop eating them. Which made me excited!)

I went out in search for the best recipes and kind of punched some together.

14 oz. can of Sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp Vanilla
14 oz Shredded Coconut- Sweetened
2 Egg whites
1/2 tsp Salt- I used kosher

Semi-sweet chocolate chips for dipping – *optional*

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line cookie sheets with either parchment paper or sil-pat. Set aside.

Mix together everything but the eggs and salt. Mix together until well incorporated. Whip the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. This gives the cookies a little fluffiness. Gently fold the foam into the coconut mixture.

Sil-pat. A bakers best friend.

Sil-pat. A bakers best friend.

Drop a spoonful of “dough” onto the cookie sheet. Space them a couple inches apart because they do spread out a little. Bake until the top part is starting to turn golden brown. This will depend on how big your cookies are. Try 7 minutes and go from there. *Side note: I flattened half of the cookie’s to see if it made a difference in baking/texture/moisture when they were flatter. End result, they were both good. It didn’t make that much difference.*

While the cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate in either a double broiler, or melt in the microwave. Don’t let the chocolate get too hot because then it won’t completely set up.

Dip half the cookie into the chocolate and set on the parchment paper again, or a cooling rack. It’ll take a few minutes until the chocolate harden’s completely.

Chocolate hand-dipped coconut macaroons.

Chocolate hand-dipped coconut macaroons.

So my thought’s on these cookies. They were suuuper good, but I am going to try to tweak the recipe. I feel like it didn’t have the full carmel flavor that that the “crackaroon’s” have. I don’t know if it’s a saltiness factor, if they add in brown sugar, or what. But while these are perfectly fine, I know that what I’m looking for and will continue on my quest for my own “crackaroon’s” from home.

To be continued….

-The Wife

 

Spring/Easter Cookies, and My First Gift From a Reader!

It’s true! I received my first gift from a reader!

Easter cookie cutouts

Easter cookie cutouts

It was my aunt, but it still counts!! *Thanks Aunt Mimi!!* I knew I had to feature it on the blog, and it lined up perfectly because I am to bring cookies to Easter lunch at my sisters.

One of our favorite cutout cookie recipes is Sour cream cookies. They are so delicious. Similar to sugar cookies, but different enough to think about them randomly at 1am at night with a mad craving.

The thing with the recipe that I completely forgot about was how many it made. I was thinking that I might need to double it, having to feed it to the fam and maybe have a couple leftovers for The Chef, Little man, and myself.

Yea… I made probably about 4-5 dozen, and didn’t even bake half of the dough….

Just FYI.

We’ve had this recipe for as long as I can remember. It has become a fast tradition to bake these up in weird different shapes, depending on what the season calls for. We usually just bake them and get to lazy to decorate a whole bunch at one time so we just frost them as we go. But whatever floats your boat.

For the pictures, I decorated the cookies with Royal icing. I see Martha Stewart with all of her gorgeous magazine cover cookies and have desperately wanted to try them. This was my first attempt. They might not be ready for their cover shot just yet… Without a doubt, I need more practice.

That’s half the fun right??

At least I have a lot of cookies to practice on.

Uuuuhhh….

Anyways, I highly encourage you that you try this recipe.

Sour Cream Cookies– This is the single batch amount.

1 Cup Butter
2 Eggs
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 tsp Baking Soda
3 1/2 Cups AP Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Nutmeg

First, put sour cream and baking soda in a separate bowl and combine. Let is rise for a couple minutes.

In the mean time, combine butter, sugar, and eggs (one at a time).

Add in sour cream mixture.

"Risen" sour cream and baking soda mixing in

“Risen” sour cream and baking soda mixing in

(It’s going to look regular on top, but when you start scrapping it into the big bowl, you’ll see the “bubble” texture that it attained.)

Sift the flour, salt, and nutmeg together.

Slowly add it to the wet mixture. Chill the dough for at least 1-2 hours. It can even go overnight.

Sour cream dough ready to be chilled.

Sour cream dough ready to be chilled.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 375˚. Roll out dough to 1/4″-1/2″ thick. Be sure to use plenty of flour. It’s going to be sticky. I used my handy dandy pastry clothe. Less clean up=more fun.

Cut out whatever shape that pleases you. I for one love my spring time/Easter cookies.

Bake for 5 minutes at least. Check to see if it needs extra time. It will depend on your thickness and how big your cutouts are. 5-7 minutes should get you pretty close though.

Royal icing if you dare…

2 Egg Whites
2 tsp Lemon Juice
3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

You want the “edging” icing to be thicker. This is where you outline your cookies with just a thin amount of icing, and let dry. When royal icing is left out in the air, it gets hard, which is perfect for icing decorative cookies, but make sure the icing is covered or in an air tight container when you’re not using it right away (while decorating) because it does harden pretty quickly.

To “flood” the cookies, the icing needs to be a little thinner, so it’s easier to spread. Use a wide tip knife or frosting spreader to fill the icing in completely inside the edging. Spread the icing even across the top of the edging so it’s seamless.

To give decorative flare, you need thicker royal icing. Just like the edging. Yes, it’s a lot of work. Give yourself plenty of time and a stress-free area, because it takes your full attention if you’re doing it for the first time.

And maybe grab yourself a comfy chair… Or have your significant other on hand for an impromptu shoulder/back massage.

Like I said, I need more practice to get to the legendary Martha Stewart level.

I think for the kids I’ll be making plain ol’ colored buttercream. But at least the cutouts look fantastic! Even without any icing! Winner winner chicken dinner.

I mean, if more people want to send me stuff so it can be featured on here, I wouldn’t hate it 😉 This was a ton of fun!

Happy Easter everyone!!!

-The Wife… And The Chef with crumbs on his face.

 

Your Doughnuts Makes Me Go Nuts (Good Ones…)

_MG_9328Growing up in a bakery, I (The Wife) am a little doughnut happy. The Chef, thankfully, shares this sweet love as well. (So much so, that he has an app that alerts us whenever the red “hotlight” turns on at the Krispy Kreme factory that resides 4.2 miles away from our house.)*If you don’t know what the hotlight means at Krispy Kreme, it means they’re making more glazed doughnuts and are willing to share a free one with you as they come rolling off the line… Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.* On this occurence, it is not uncommon to see us tearing out the door in the similar fashion as young children when they hear the ice cream truck come tinking down the street.

Those hot free sinful things aren’t going to eat themselves, folks.

Talking about food, as we often do, The Chef and I started talking about how difficult it is to make doughnuts. (I’ve only ever seen machine assemble lines make them). The Chef, having had to make them throughout his culinary career, assured me they were quite possible.

A cool saturday morning came about and I decided, lets do this. I started researching recipes. I found out that there was a very key component that some recipes were missing: Tangzhong._MG_8926

Tangzhong is a water roux, that gives breads/pastries a soft, fluffy texture. Something that I personally find important when eating a doughnut. Soft, light and fluffy. To make the tangzhong you combine 1/3 cup of All purpose flour and 1 cup of water (you will have leftovers, you can use it for another batch, save it for a couple days, or toss it). Cook over medium heat, stirring with a whisk, until thick and you can see whisking lines. Set aside and let it cool._MG_8932

This recipe is straight forward and super yummy! The recipe for the doughnuts is adapted from the 350 Degree Oven- Adventures in Mika’s Kitchen, link found here. She does a great job and explains exactly what to do. I was kind of nervous even with The Chef walking me through it as well, but no need to fret! *Thanks for letting me borrow your recipe!*

2 1/2 Cups AP Flour
4 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Butter- room temperature and cut up in pieces
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Egg-beaten
2 tsp Yeast
1/2 cup Tangzhong

In a bread machine or kitchen aid mixer, add milk, beaten egg, sugar, salt, and butter. Add 1/2 cup of the tangzhong. On top, pour in flour and make a well for the yeast (just like all breads and pastries, don’t let the yeast come into contact right away with the salt. The salt might prevent it from activating).

If you’re using a kitchen aid, use the dough hook. If you’re using a bread machine, turn it to the dough setting. If you’re doing it by hand, kudos.

Knead the dough for about 15 minutes. The dough should be stretchy. Allow to rise for roughly an hour. (Ours took longer because we did it in the winter and out kitchen was cooler. You want it to about double in size at least. Punch it down and let it rise again (every time you let the dough rise, it builds structure-not to be confused with toughness) for again roughly an hour. All time will be different depending on the warmth and humidity of your kitchen.

When the dough is done roll it on a well floured surface. Have the thickness be about 1/4-1/2 inches thick. Using a doughnut cutter, or something resembling something of a doughnut- aka ya’ll can be creative. Re-roll the scraps and cut away again. (The blogger lady said to not re-roll more than once because the dough might get to tough. We did and didn’t see a huge difference, but you can always just have weird looking “scrappy doughnuts”. Sometimes the funny looking ones turn out to be the best. At least that’s what my mother said when I was dating… I got both in the end 😉 )

To cut the donuts, press down relatively hard and then twist your cutter. This helps break the doughnut away from the rest of the dough and also so that it doesn’t stick as much to the cutter. It still might a little but just gently press it out into your hand or a spatula to move it to the cookie sheet.

You best be frying these suckers too!

You best be frying these suckers too!

On a well floured or lightly oiled cookie sheet, carefully place the doughnuts a few inches apart because– you guessed it– they’r going to rise again. Once they’re all on there and looking cute, spray with cooking spray and cover lightly with saran wrap. Place in a warm area and let them riiise!!!

RISE!! RISE! RISE MY CREATION RIIIIIIIISE!young-frankenstein

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In a deep dryer, or a pan with 1-2″ of oil, heat the oil to 375˚F. When you’re waiting for the donuts and the oil, whip up some icing. (2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 tbsp milk, a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of salt)  When the donuts are twice in size, aka puffy and awesome, gently place them into the oil. Cook for 30 seconds or until a BEAUUUtiful golden brown. Flip over with a chopstick or anything stick-like, and cook again for another 30 seconds._MG_9317

After the donuts have cooled for a couple seconds and they’re not rip-roaring hot, dip the doughnuts into the glaze. Put onto a wire cooling rack. Now just look at your creation._MG_9320

I mean look at it!Young Frankenstein 3

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Reap the benefits of your rewards._MG_9322

They’re even better at 11pm at night.

-The Everyday Chef and Wife

Croquembouche: Cream Puff Tower

_MG_0069March 20th 2014, our little man Miah turned two years old. Where has the time gone?! It has been such a fun journey so far.

For his party, we threw him a 100 “akre” woods party. Not just a regular Winnie the Pooh party. We’re talking rustic. We didn’t know what type of cake to make him. We didn’t want to go out and buy a cake mold that looked like a beehive to only use just once, so The Chef came up with the great idea of making a croquembouche, to have the concept of a beehive. We knew it wouldn’t look spot on, but it would look similar.

When he first mentioned it, I was super excited. Then I realized, I had no idea how to make a croak bush. I always just bought cream puffs from the frozen isle section at the store. Making them was for french professionals with tall toques. I started having mini anxiety attacks. The Chef assured me he knew what to do. (He muttered culinary school, class, and 5 am under his breath… I think he has some tired repressed memories…)

Fast forward to the night before the party, and you find The Chef and I in the kitchen making our dream into a reality.

Cue angelic chorus.

He first got out his digital kitchen scale. Then he said “now measure everything out.” Excuse me? I don’t even know how to turn this contraption on. I’m a measuring cup kind of girl. The Chef shook his head and gave me a nice lecture on the properties of measuring cups and weighing out your ingredients. Having heard all this before, I kindly nodded my head.

Little did I know, I would be soon admitting the impossible.

After learning the functions, I got to it. I weighed every little measurement to the exact specifications. I turned to The Chef and stated “I actually like weighing! It takes all the guessing out, and you know 100% that you have exactly what you need.” I found it freeing. The Chef smiled his smile of “I told you so” but never uttered a word.

So audience, I learned two things: 1. weighing is not as intimidating as I once thought, and 2. listen to you husband when he knows what he’s talking about. It makes life much easier in these circumstances. And you might will learn a thing or two yourself.

Ok enough of that.

Recipe for Pâte à Choux (Cream puff and eclair dough)

Milk – 500g
Butter – 250g
Salt – 5g
Bread Flour – 375g
Sugar – 15g (for a sweeter dough–it is optional)

………………………….
Eggs – 625g (yes you even have to measure out eggs. If you go over, just remove the egg whites until you have the right amount)

1.With the milk, butter, salt, and sugar, combine in a medium size pot. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil.

2. Remove the pot from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir quickly.

3. Return the pot to moderate heat and keep stirring quickly until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from sides of the pot.

4. Transfer the dough to the bowl of mixer. (Leave it in the pot if you’re brave enough to do it by hand.) _MG_0024

5. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the dough has cooled slightly. (Somewhere around 140˚- still warm, but not too hot to touch)

6. At medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time. Make sure they are absorbed completely before adding the next. When the last egg is absorbed the dough is ready to be put into a pastry bag with a wide tip.

*You can see the difference between the middle of the egg process and the end. The dough with only half the eggs is matted, and the dough with all the eggs is shiny.*

-Preheat oven to 425˚F.
-Line sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Pipe out the dough into round mounds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. (You can drop it by spoon or a small ice cream scoop)_MG_0058
-Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 375˚F until the mounds are browned and very crisp. The time is going to vary, so you’ll need to keep a sharp eye on them.
-Remove from oven but place in a warm place to cool slowly.
-To fill, drill a small hole (enough of the piping tip to fit in), and fill with whipped cream. (We make our own by whipping heavy cream until stiff peaks form, and add in powdered sugar to taste (however sweet you want it), a touch of vanilla, and about a teaspoon of cream of tartar for structure. This helps the cream not weep and soak through the puffs.)

Some people say to slice off the top and fill, then replace the lid again. If you want to, go for it. But I like to drill the hole.

You need to fill the puffs right before making the sugar glue and before you build the “tower” (unless you forego the tower, which is fine too). The Chef and I made spun sugar as the glue and the garnish. _MG_0072

(I have to apologize. I failed and completely forgot to photograph this step in the midst of all the party preparations…)

Recipe for Spun Sugar:

Sugar- 300g – it has to be somewhat refined/small granules.
Water-150g
Glucose-60g (we used corn syrup and it worked fine)

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy pot, on medium to high heat. It will heat up differently depending on if you have gas or electric. Gas will heat more slowly, and electric might be quicker. Just watch carefully. Place your candy thermometer so its hanging on the side but not touching the bottom. You want to read the sugar and not the temp of the pot. Have a pastry brush on hand that can resist heat, and a small bowl of water. Every so often you’re going to brush off the top inside rim with water to remove any granules of sugar that might be climbing up (one granule of sugar could crystallize the entire batch). You’ll need to have a sink, or big bucket, on hand with ice cold water to quickly dip the bottom of the pan in when the sugar reaches 320˚F. Only dip it for a couple seconds, then place it on a heat resistance surface (that’s not heating i.e the stove). You should visibly see the sugar slightly thicken because of the temperature change. At this point you know your sugar is ready to be spun.

Choose a platter/plate for presentation for the next steps because you are not moving this thing… *be very cautious when handling the sugar it will be extremely hot and sticky. If it gets on your skin it could easily scar you. “Respect the sugary lava”–The Chef

With a fork, drizzle the sugar on the contact spots of the cream puffs, holding another puff on it immediately after for a couple seconds. It should stick together. Repeat and continue with the rest, forming the tower/formation.

The Chef and I liked the look of the sugar just drizzling over the cream puffs, thinking that it looked like honey. This was how we glued them together. You can use either method. _MG_0071

*For the spun sugar around the bottom, take three wooden spoon handles and position them over the edge of a counter spaced 3 to 4 inches apart. With foil underneath and a wide open space, quickly fling the melted sugar over the tops of the handles back and forth like a whip.The jerking fast motion is key to make the sugar stretch and look like angel hair. It floats down and rests on the handles. This will create a spiderweb effect (my sister called them spider farts…). To form them into your desired shape, breath onto the sugar while gently gently gently moving the spider fa… *ahem*… spun sugar with your hands. Carefully drape around the bottom of the tower/beehive. The moisture in your breath actually helps form it to whatever shape you want, without your breath it would break. * if you refrigerate the sugar it will melt and become gooey. Be careful even when changing temperatures because that could also cause it to go haywire.

The Chef and I are contemplating doing another presentation of this (just the spun sugar fart… PART), so you can see the execution of it. It’s honestly not that hard though. It’s pretty straight forward. If you have any questions though, let us know!

This all seems intimidating but it’s honestly not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. The only problem we had was our oven is a joke and doesn’t evenly heat. So we had quite a few puffs deplete in the oven… boooo… But luckily we had more than enough to build the beehive.

Don’t sweat it if they don’t come out looking like they popped off a machine. They’re handmade and homemade. They’re not going to look like that. This gives them the cutest rustic look. I loved the way they turned out. So don’t stress.

Just don’t do it.

HAVE FUN!!

The Everyday Chef and Wife

 

 

 

 

 

Chess Pie: You’re Going to Want to Try This…

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I hope no one is getting tired of dessert recipes… Because I’m not…

Chess pie is one of the greatest creations that has ever graced the food realm. I will probably say that about a lot of foods, but this one truly is the bee’s knees.

I have been eating chess pie since I was allowed to eat sugar. My family’s bakery makes it, and it quickly became a staple at dinner parties (and especially Easter). Since I am now a couple hundred miles away from the nearest Busken’s Bakery, I decided to take my craving dilemma into my own hands.

Chess pie is really just a pecan pie without the pecans. And I don’t like nuts in my baked goods, so that works out well for me. The Chef (who grew up with pecan pie) is super bummed by this “flaw” of mine, and reminds me of it often. He keeps trying to sneak it in, and my taste buds continue rejecting it. I’ve been a good wife and have excepted many different food expansions (i.e. pepper… I hated pepper before him, and now I use it often, ON MY OWN.. but not in baked goods… no). But I am pretty adamant of keeping nuts out of my baked goods. To me, it ruins it.

Unless it’s German Chocolate cake.

I didn’t ask for my family’s recipe of Chess pie, because I knew I’d blog about it and didn’t want to give away their secrets. If you want a slice, go to Busken’s and grab thee one. (You will not regret it.) This Chess pie recipe came to me in providence from my Country Living Magazine (March 2014). I had been dreaming of this sweet, custardy delight, when lo and behold they had an inspiring recipe jumping off the pages to me. I announced “I’m going to make a Chess pie for pi day!” The Chef replies “can you put pecan’s in it?”

“NO!”

And off I went to make my pie.

When I had contemplated making Chess pie in the past, I thought it was this super long process, with many chances for mistakes. Boy, was I wrong. This is about the easiest pie I’ve ever made. The hardest part was making the pie crust, which is a piece of pie. (…See what I did there?) I think know I spent the most time trying to crimp the darn edges to make the pie look good.

Preheat your oven to 350˚

Start with making a 9″ pie crust.

Then: Beat 3 eggs

Add in 1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup of butter milk (you can either use store bought, left over actual buttermilk from homemade butter, or make you own with 1/2 milk and 1/2 Tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice–let it sit for 5-10 minutes)

2/3 of a stick (not a cup) of butter-melted

1 Tbsp of AP flour

1 tsp Vanilla

and a dash of salt

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_MG_0353Mix and pour into pie shell.

_MG_0385Bake for an hour (I baked mine for 1 hour and 5 min). The top will be golden brown and slightly bubbly, but it should be pretty set up. Let it cool until room temperature (or refrigerate, I like mine cold too)._MG_0400

Slice away, devour and enjoy!

My sister described it as almost a crème bruleè pie. It was slightly different from what I grew up with, but I honestly didn’t care. It was creamy, delectably sweet, with the slight saltiness of the crust cutting the sweetness perfectly. It was simply heaven. And with it being so gosh darn easy, this will definitely be a go-to recipe for me when I need to whip up a dessert. Also, get this, The Chef LOVED it!! He didn’t even make one comment about it lacking pecans. Score!

Thanks Country Living for once again completing me life.

Sincerely,
The Wife

Your Go-To Pie Crust Recipe

This is my mom’s that she has past down to my sister and I. I believe it’s just out of Betty Crocker’s cookbook. But I hate going through the whole book just to find the stinking recipe. So I’m putting it here for you all to have for quick reference. It’s incredibly simple, and it tastes good. Who could ask for more?

This makes one pie crust. Double if you need a top part.

1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp of shortening- I use butter flavored crisco.

1 cup of Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

2-3 Tbsp cold water- I use 3-4 actually. It toughens it up and makes it easier to roll out and not flake. _MG_0324

With a fork, combine all the ingredients until well incorporated and able to form a ball.

On a well floured surface (I use a pastry cloth that I bought. It makes clean up a breeze!!) (but any surface will work as long as it’s floured properly), sprinkle the dough and rolling pin with flour. Roll out evenly until desired size is achieved. It should be about 1/8″- 1/4″ thick. Carefully place into the pie tin and crimp the edges.

You should be ready to rumble!

The Wife…. And Betty…. Thanks Betty.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

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I told you about the spring/lemon thing… This is no joke. I crave lemons as soon as I hear the chirping of birds.

WHEN WILL THIS SNOW BE RID OF US?! 

The piles are still as high as my nose. It’s enough already. I need to green grass soon… *This is where I put bird songs on Spotify and go into my happy place…*

But on to lemons…

These little pretties are just about as lovely by themselves as they are with a spot of tea. They are perfectly sweet, they are light, they exude spring.

I honestly don’t know where I came across this recipe. I saved it on my computer a few years ago and keep returning back to it. It has quickly become tradition to whip these up when I’m over being frozen. (They’ve come out as early as mid February…)

They are really quite simple to make, which is nice isn’t it?

WET
……….

½ cups butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 whole egg

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

DRY
………

¼ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoons baking powder

⅛ teaspoons baking soda

1-½ cup all-purpose flour

Topping
……………

½ cups powdered sugar

*This made about 1 1/2 dozen- I would possibly double if serving to a party*

Preheat the oven to 350˚

In a kitchen aid, combine butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla. Mix in lemon zest and juice. Scrape down sides to insure complete incorporation.

Wet and dry ingredients mixed

Wet and dry ingredients mixed

Sift the dry ingredients together (this helps to make sure you don’t have pockets of baking power or soda and bakes more evenly). Slowly combine with the wet ingredients. Again, scrape down sides and mix again.

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With either a small “ice cream” scoop (mine was 3/4 oz) or a tablespoon, scoop out and roll into a tight ball with your hands. Roll the dough around in the powder sugar for complete coverage. Place onto a lightly greased pan. Sit them about 2″ or so apart. Bake for 7-9 minutes- when the bottom is just slightly turning brown and the top is matte, “not shiny or melty”.  Let them cool for a couple minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Be prepared with a glass of milk or a cup of tea.

Wouldn’t these be perfect at a little tea party? I am itching to be able to have one of my own. I have obtained quite a few patterns of china, and I am determined to use them all this year! Feel free to join me.

Let us know what your favorite cookies are! Do you have a seasonal favorite too? What do you put out for tea parties?

Do you have tea parties?

Am I the only one?

Am I still 7?

I would appreciate any fellow tea partier’s to let me know that I’m not alone….

Obviously, -The Wife