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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hamburger Buns, A Giveaway (closed), and A Blogiversary


Guess what??  I had my very first blogiversary this week!  One year ago, I set out making this little blog as a resource for my friends and family.  Never did I imagine that it would grow to include so many wonderful friends and readers from all over the world. 

Looking back it is fun to see how my cooking skills have improved.  I started out with very simple recipes (most that I’d made many times before) growing ever outside of my comfort zone to newer complex recipes and even beginning to create some of my own original recipes.

I also look back on those photos from one year ago.  While I still have a lot to learn, I can see that I’ve come very far in just one year.

Thank you readers and blogging friends for making this blog a success!

But onto today’s recipe.  I always love a good fresh loaf of bread (though I tend to shy away from baking as much in the summer), but I’ve never made my own buns.  You see, that is my grandma’s territory.  She makes the world’s best buns and rolls!  I can seriously eat them by the bagful.

But as I was flipping through one of my favorite cook books, I found a recipe for 10 grain bread.  It wasn’t fabulous.  But I had a feeling that with just a bit of tweaking, the 10 grain bread recipe could turn into a fabulous homemade hamburger bun.  And so it did!  We definitely have enjoyed these with hamburgers al summer long (and they’re so healthy!)

Keep reading for the giveaway!



Multi-grain Hamburger Buns

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups ten-grain hot cereal (such as Bob’s Mill brand), uncooked
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup vital wheat gluten
1 ½ tbsp granulated yeast (or 2 packets)
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 ½ cups lukewarm water (100 degrees or slightly warmer than body temperature)
½ cup honey
5 large eggs
2/3 cup canola oil


In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, cereal, vital wheat gluten, yeast, and salt.  Stir on low until well mixed.

Add in the liquid ingredients and mix them with the dry ingredients until the flour is incorporated, without kneading.

Pour the dough into a lidded 5-quart bowl or container.  Put the cover on, leaving 1 corner open to vent.  Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

Place the dough in the refrigerator overnight (leaving the one corner of the container open).  Dough can remain refrigerated for up to 5 days.

On baking day…

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Open the lid of the container and dust the dough generously with flour and wet your hands (to prevent sticking).  Separate the dough into 16 equal sized portions (¼ pound each).  Gently form each portion into a smooth ball by stretching the dough gently around the sides to the bottom, turning slightly as you go.

Place the formed buns 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets and press down lightly until slightly flattened.  Cover the buns loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 40 minutes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and firm.  Cool completely before serving.

Makes 16 buns


As part of my 1 year blogiversary celebration, I’m also hosting my first giveaway.  I want one of you lovely readers to have a copy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, the first book written by the author’s of Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. 

 It will revolutionize the way you think about baking.  And trust me – even if you don’t consider yourself a baker, or are deathly afraid of yeast – even you can bake bread with this book!  So how can you win?  Let me tell you!

1.      Leave a nice comment!  Tell me if you love baking bread or loathe and fear it!
2.    Follow me on Facebook
3.     Share the giveaway on Facebook with the following:
“I want to win and start baking @Amy’s Cooking Adventures http://bit.ly/nlvn0O !”
4.    Follow me to Twitter
5.     Share the giveaway on Twitter with the following:
“I want to win and start baking @AmysCookingAdve #giveaway http://bit.ly/nlvn0O !”
6.    Tweet once daily for 1 additional entry per day

Winner will be chosen randomly and notified via e-mail one week from today on September 7 (please make sure you have a valid e-mail listed on your profile or add your e-mail in with your comment)

The giveaway is now closed.  Congrats to Torview Toronto for winning!


Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by me!  I am in no way affiliated with the authors of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  I just really like their book!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chicken & Rice Stuffed Grilled Peppers (Secret Recipe Club)

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I got to explore the wonderful world of Georgie Cakes.  Georgie has many recipes steeping in her Greek culture and it was difficult to choose a favorite.  But when bell peppers were on sale the very same week I wanted to make my recipe, I knew I was going to stuff some peppers!

This was a wonderful recipe and I loved the use of fresh herbs.  Since it was summer, I grilled my peppers instead of baking them, but it could easily be a summer or a winter dish!


Chicken & Rice Stuffed Grilled Peppers
Adapted from Georgie Cakes

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
½ tbsp dry chicken stock
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig Basil
1 sprig oregano
1 sprig rosemary
¼ tsp garlic powder
2 cups cooked chicken (about 1 lb uncooked)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 green onions, white and some green sliced
1 ½ tsp minced garlic (3 cloves, minced)
1 tomato, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup chicken stock
4 bell peppers, any color


Mix the rice, water, chicken stock, herbs, and garlic in a medium pot.  Cook according to package instructions (usually 45-60 minutes).

Once the rice is done cooking, preheat the grill to medium heat and heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and minced garlic to the oil.  Cook until the onions are tender and the garlic is fragrant. 

Stir in the tomato and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomato is softened.  Stir in the chicken (cooked) and rice and heat through.

Carefully cut off the tops of each bell pepper.  Remove the seeds and stems.  Fill each pepper with the chicken and rice mixture and replace the tops.  Use 4 toothpicks to secure the tops in place.

Place the peppers on the grill and sear the sides, carefully rotating a quarter turn every 2-3 minutes).  Turn the heat to medium-low and turn the peppers so they are sitting upright.  Close the lid and grill the peppers for another 5-10 minutes or until the peppers are soft.  Serve immediately.

Serves 2-4

Enjoy
Amy

Like Secret Recipe Club?  Here are my previous posts:



Friday, August 26, 2011

Balsamic Tortellini Salad



Holy smokes!  Did you miss me?  So where the heck have I been?

Well, I have been having major major computer issues.  For awhile my computer didn’t want to turn on.  It would take 5-10 tries before it finally worked – totally weird.  Hen it stopped turning on at all.  Sadly my motherboard went bad, so no more computer L

So my wonderful husband went downstairs to the laptop graveyard, featuring such classics as computer with shot hard drive and computer that lit itself on fire and made…..Frankenputer!!!!!! 

Behold!


For real.  This one has the body (maybe?  Is that what you call it?) and motherboard of one computer, the hard drive of another, and the RAM from a third.  So, long story short, I’m back.

I thought I’d start us off with a delicious (and super easy) pasta salad.  It features tortellini (one of my all time faves), broccoli and bacon.  It is pretty much perfect, though I do apologize for the bad pictures, I was having major lighting issues…all part of the learning process!


Balsamic Tortellini Salad
An Amy Original

1 (20 oz) package 3 cheese tortellini
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp minced garlic (or 1 clove)
2 tbsp onion, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 broccoli crowns, cut into florets (about 3 cups)
½ cup cherry tomatoes, seeded and quartered
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds


Cook the tortellini as directed on the packaging.  Meanwhile, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, pepper, and sea salt.  Whisk to combine.

After draining the cooking water, put the tortellini into a large bowl.  Stir in the broccoli florets, tomatoes, bacon, sunflower seeds, and marinade.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Enjoy
Amy

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pizza (Secret Recipe Club)


Yesterday, I got an urgent e-mail from Amanda.  You see, someone had to back out of Monday’s Secret Recipe Club reveal at the very last moment, leaving Connor’s Cooking with no partner.  There was such an overwhelming response to Amanda’s plea, that Connor’s Cooking gets a special super post today!

Looking through Connor’s Cooking was a treat for me, since we have a very similar cooking style.  When I saw Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pizza, I knew I had found a treat.

I made just a few modifications to this fantastic recipe.  I modified the crust a bit to make it whole wheat and herby.  I also made a homemade Alfredo sauce, since I didn’t have a jar of Alfredo handy.  One final note, leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken would be fabulous on this pizza.  But, since I didn’t have either of those on hand, I simply boiled a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts in water for 20 minutes (until fully cooked) and then seasoned them with Lowry’s Seasoning Salt.

This pizza was absolutely phenomenal!  It was creamy chicken alfredo meets smokey grilled pizza.  I can’t wait to heat up the leftovers!


Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pizza
Adapted from Connor’s Cooking

Dough

1 ½ cups warm water
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp honey
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1-2 tbsp fresh herbs, like rosemary & basil (or 1-2 tsp dried herbs)


Toppings

Garlicky Alfredo Sauce (recipe follows)
1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded, and lightly seasoned
3 cups mozzarella cheese
½ cup cheddar jack cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


Directions

Add the yeast and the honey to the warm water.  Cover with a damp towel and allow to proof (foam) for about 5 minutes.  Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl.  Add the remaining dough ingredients and mix until a dough forms.  Turn out the dough and knead until smooth and elastic, at least 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover.  Let rise for about an hour.

Preheat the grill to medium-low heat.

Split the dough in half.  Roll out 1 half of the dough on a floured pizza peel.  Stab the dough circle with a fork.  Slide the pizza dough directly onto the grill grates and close the cover.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom is fully cooked and browned.

Using the pizza peel, quickly flip the pizza.  Working as quickly as possible, spread half the alfredo sauce on top of the pizza, followed by half the chicken, 1 ½ cups of mozzarella, half of the crumbled bacon, and ¼ cup of cheddar jack cheese.  Close the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom crust is browned and the cheese is melted.  Repeat with the second ball of dough.

Serves 4-6



Garlicky Alfredo Sauce
An Amy Original

2 cloves garlic (1 tsp minced garlic)
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup whole milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the milk and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to bubble.  Continue to cook, still stirring for another 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in parmesan, salt and pepper, mixing until the sauce is thoroughly blended and smooth, return to the warm stove to heat if necessary, but do not boil.

Enjoy!
Amy

Like Secret Recipe Club?  Here are my previous posts:









Saturday, August 13, 2011

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins





We love muffins in my house!  They are the perfect breakfast for me (easily eaten on the go or while chasing children) and the perfect snack for my 3 year old (especially if there are chocolate chips involved!)

I’ll be honest, I’ve often steered away from muffins with fruit in them.  For some reason, those big hunks of fruit just look really unappealing to me (and my son too, he won’t touch those giant chink of fruit with a 10 foot pole).  To solve this problem, I lightly pulsed the berries in a food processor before mixing them in.


Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from the Joy of Baking

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp lemon juice
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup water and 4 tbsp dried buttermilk)
½ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries (or frozen)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips (and dried buttermilk, if using).

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, egg, buttermilk (or water if using dried buttermilk), canola oil, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

Place the raspberries in the bowl of a small food processor.  Pulse 2-3 times to break up the raspberries.  Add the raspberries to the liquid mixture and whisk to combine.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined – some streaks of flour will remain.

Divide the batter into muffin tins, filling each cup nearly full (these muffins won’t rise much).  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean and the tops are lightly browned.

Place the muffins, in the tins, on wire racks to cool for 5-10 minutes.  Remove muffins from the tins and cool completely.

Makes 18 muffins

 Enjoy!
Amy

Monday, August 8, 2011

Xylosaurus Cake



Saturday was the little one’s first birthday.  Isn’t he sweet all ready for his party?


For his birthday party this year, I was inspired by Threadcakes.  A contest in which bakers can make and submit a cake based off a Threadless T-shirt design.  Be sure to check out my submission and “like” or tweet it! 


When I saw the Xylosaurus, I was in love!  How cute and whimsical for my baby’s first birthday!

This was my first sculptured cake, so I got to try several new techniques.

I started off with a Funfetti cake mix doctored up using this recipe.  I baked it in two 9x13 pans at 375 degrees F, for about 25 minutes.  Once cooled, the cakes were cut and stacked with butter cream in between the layers (sorry I forgot to take a picture of this step!)  There were 6 layers, ranging from 4 ¼ inches wide to 2 ¾ inches wide.  This was then wrapped carefully with plastic wrap (still on the cake board) and placed in the freezer overnight.


The next day, the cake was removed from the freezer and carved into the desired shape with a nice sharp knife.  The scraps were used to fashion a ball for the head and four legs and thin layer of butter cream was applied as a crumb coating.


Meanwhile, I made a batch of sugar cookies.  I divided the dough into 7 equal sections and kneaded color into each section.  After it was chilled in the refrigerator, the dough was rolled out color by color and cut into rectangles 1 inch wide and ranging from 3 ½ to 2 inches tall.  After chilling in the freezer, cookie sticks were inserted and the cookies were baked (after the excess flour was brushed off by my handsome assistant!)


Then the fun part started!  I had my husband bend a piece of wire (he actually used a clean wire hanger) into a tail shape that I could slide under the cake.  I covered the wire in rice cereal treats to add some bulk.


I was nervous about the rice cereal treats falling off the wire, so I placed the whole cake in the refrigerator overnight (plus it was midnight by this point and I was tired.)


The day of the party, the whole cake got a thick layer of butter cream, including the nice, sturdy rice cereal treats tail!  This was followed by a layer of fondant, and smoothed out.


Then it was time for the final assembly!  The cookie sticks were trimmed and inserted into the cake.  I also made a small mallet from a left over end of a cookie stick and a ball of fondant.  The final touches of the face and spots were added with an edible food marker and the transformation was complete!


The cake was loved by all the party guests (kids and adults alike!) and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.

Happy first birthday, my sweet baby!


Rice Cereal Treats

2 cups rice cereal
2 ½ cups mini marshmallows
1 tbsp butter


In a small food processor, pulse the rice cereal several times to break the cereal into smaller pieces (but not into a powder)

Melt the marshmallows and butter together in 30 second incrememnts in the microwave.

Stir the rice cereal into the melt marshmallows and apply to the cake form.

Enjoy!
Amy

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait and FREE ACTIVIA SAMPLE


Yogurt is one of those great things.  It can be a healthy breakfast or snack on its own, or you can make it into a parfait, so delicious that it could be breakfast, snack or maybe even dessert!





Activia recently launched Activia Selects in Greek and French Yogurt varieties.  Each comes in several delicious fruity flavors.  To celebrate these new yogurt varieties, Activia is offering readers a coupon for a FREE Activia Selects yogurt.  To claim your freebie, go through the following steps:

1) Go to: http://freeactivia.com – this will take you to a FB page. Alternatively, you can click on the link provided in the assets page, that way we can track it.
2) “Like” the page
3) You may have to also click on the “Activia Select” link on the left sidebar
4) Enter your information in the form, select the yogurt you’d like to try and click on “Get Coupon”
5) You will receive an email with a link to the printable coupon.
6) Print the coupon (you may need to allow the Java print plug-in on your browser)
7) Bring it to a store to redeem your free Dannon Activia sample

Once you have your FREE yogurt in hand, you may be tempted to dig right in (I can’t blame you – it’s good!), but if you’re feeling a little fancy and sophisticated, I recommend using your yogurt as the base to a deliciously dessert-like parfait. 





In the following parfait, I used Activia Selects French Fruit in the Bottom, Mixed Berry.  The yogurt was smooth and creamy and the fruit added a wonderful extra punch of flavor.  As with all Activia yogurts, these contain active cultures to promote digestive health.  With just 170 calories and 5 grams of protein, Activia Selects are a smart choice for breakfast and between meal snacks. 

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
An Amy Original

1 (6 oz) Activia Selects French Yogurt Fruit in the Bottom, Mixed Berry
2 graham crackers, broken
½ cup fresh raspberries


Gently stir the yogurt to mix the fruit from the bottom into the rest of the yogurt.

Place a small handful of broken crackers in the bottom of a glass or bowl.  Top with a handful of fresh berries.  Top those with about half of the yogurt.  Repeat, ending with a yogurt layer.  Garnish with additional cracker crumbs and fruit, if desired.

Makes 1 Parfait

Enjoy!
Amy

I was compensated for this post by Foodie Blogroll and Halogen.  All thoughts and reviews are my own.

This sponsorship is brought to you by Activia Selects who we have partnered with for this promotion.
FREE coupon offer good 8/3 /11 - 8/15/11, up to 1 million coupons, on any Activia Selects Single Serve, up to $3.00. One coupon per household. Offer valid in the U.S only. VOID IN LA, NJ, CA. Coupon valid until 8/15/11.
Residents of LA, NJ, CA will be given a '$1 off 3 Activia Selects' coupon.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bacon, Avocado, & Tomato Sandwich


Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking.  I want to eat chips or cookies or something for dinner (though I really try not to!)  This lovely sandwich came about on just such a day.  I was looking through the refrigerator, trying to come up with something easy.  Then I noticed some leftover bacon and avocado.  So, I thought, why not a BLT with avocado instead of lettuce (because I was out of lettuce)?  I took it and ran with it and it was great!

Since the bacon was leftover and I was too lazy to reheat it, the longest part of this meal was waiting for the bagel to toast.  Yum.


Bacon, Avocado, & Tomato Sandwich
An Amy Original

1 Everything Bagel, toasted
½ avocado, mashed
1 tomato, sliced
4 sliced of cooked bacon


Toast the bagel.  Spread both halves with the mashed avocado.  Top with tomato and bacon (mine was cold leftover bacon, but you can use fresh).  Sit back and enjoy.


Enjoy!
Amy

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