Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Now Interrupt The Regularly Scheduled Programming


This is the very first craft post I have ever done! I know a lot of people won't get all excited about this, and it isn't that extraordinary, but this is what happens when you give a 6 year old some materials and a chunk of time.

That's right, my little creative kid came up with this all on her own. I am very proud of her and I think that it is something that people with kids will appreciate. A fun, family friendly project that take few materials. We went on a nature hike to get the leaves, cut the middle out of a paper plate to get the wreath shape and off she went. We are making more of these for the doors in the house.

You could paint the paper plate to make it a little more finished looking if you wanted to, or add small pine cones, acorns or painted nuts (the ones still in the shell). Or a bow! Pretty much whatever you want.

I think you should kick the kids outside to go get some leaves RIGHT NOW and make some of these for your own house!


Cooke Cooks- Punkin Week- Recipe #4


Recipe #4 is pumpkin donuts! These were a giant hit with the family and were no harder than any other cake donut. Let's get them started, shall we?

Cream the shortening and sugar together.


Add pumpkin and eggs and mix well.



In another bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Measure out the milk into a measuring cup.



Mix the flour and milk alternately, beginning with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix well.



The batter will be thinner than you think it should be. Turn it out onto a well floured counter and dust flour over the top. Knead it like a biscuit dough, adding flour until it is no longer sticky. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick.



Cut out your donuts and place them onto a cookie sheet. This makes it easier to carry them to your stove to fry.



Fry them in 350 degree oil until golden brown. Let them drain on a cooling rack and roll them into sugar.

I hope you enjoy these. These are easy to make and so good.

Here is the origonal recipe at King Arthur Flour.

Here is my adapted recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup shortening
2 large eggs
3/4 cup 100% pure pumpkin
1/2 cup milk

Oil for frying

Sugar for coating

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Cream the shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and pumpkin, mixing completely. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, beginning with the flour and ending with the flour. Turn out onto a floured counter and liberally sprinkle the dough with more flour. Knead like biscuit dough, adding enough flour to keep it from getting sticky. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out and place onto a cookie sheet. Fry in 350 degree oil until golden brown. Drain. Roll the slightly cooled donuts in sugar if desired.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cooke Cooks-Punkin Week-Recipe#3


Iced Pumpkin Cookies is our recipe of the day! These were such a big hit that I didn't even get a picture of them cooling before the icing was put on. I had to fend off the hordes of hungry pygmies to save enough for Kevin to have a taste when he got home from work.

This was another simple recipe that gives amazing results.

First you cream the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy.


Add the eggs, pumpkin, vanilla and salt. Mix well.



Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder. Combine thoroughly.



Add nuts and chocolate chips. Stir them in gently.



Scoop onto cookie sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes.



I should have a picture of them cooling, but they were being consumed at a rapid pace. I tried to stay away from the kitchen so I could keep all of my digits.


When they are completely cool, drizzle with icing and let them sit until it hardens, about 20 minutes. This made a lot of cookies if you dropped them by rounded tablespoon like the recipe calls for, about 5 dozen in fact. Also, I found that the pumpkin flavor didn't fully come out until they were completely cool.

The link to the original recipe is Libby's Spiced and Iced Pumpkin Cookies.

My adapted recipe is as follows:

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1-15 oz can 100% pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-12 oz package of chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, pumpkin, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Add the remaining ingredient, except for chocolate chips and nuts, and stir to combine. Gently mix in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. While the cookies are cooling mix the following:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well. It the mixture seems to thin, add powdered sugar. If it seems too thick add milk slowly until it's a drizzling consistency.
Once the cookies are cooled, drizzle with glaze and let sit until hardened, about 20 minutes.








Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cooke Cooks-Punkin Week- Recipe #2


For my second recipe I chose my most favorite quick bread of all time. This pumpkin bread was in the very first cookbook that I ever bought as a married woman, a Betty Crocker Cookbook. It is now dog-eared and tired, but well loved. I have cooked my way through it many a time and now that I a more experienced at cook, I have jotted notes down on almost every page.

This is a simple bread with few ingredients.

Put pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla into a bowl.


Mix well. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nuts.



Mix until just combined. Do not over mix this, it will create some gluten and make a tough loaf. You want a tender loaf here, so if there are a couple lumps don't worry too much.

Spray 2-8 inch loaf pans and pour the bread into them.



Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Remove from pans and let cool on a rack.

Try to keep from slicing it while it is still hot, it will have a tendency to fall apart while still warm. Honestly, the flavor of this bread improves if you can wrap it in a towel and let it sit over night. But, really, who can wait that long?



Slice, butter and enjoy.

Original recipe.
My adapted recipe:

1-15 oz can of pure pumpkin puree
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour into greased pans and place into 350 degree oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted near the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing. ;)

Recipe #3 tomorrow- it might be cookies!



Monday, September 27, 2010

Spicy Pumpkin Layer Dip


Pumpkin? In a dip? Yes, pumpkin in a dip. And it is so good. This is a really good way to get a compliment on your cooking abilities. No one will think the secret ingredient in this delicious, slightly spicy dip is plain old pumpkin. When I thought about what recipes I wanted to do this week, I knew that I wanted to include some savory recipes. Pumpkin is versatile, it has a mellow, sweet flavor that goes will with a lot of flavors, especially sage.

Let me start this punkin week off with this simple, savory pumpkin dip recipe.

Put the pumpkin, cream cheese and jalapeno juice into a bowl.


Beat it with a mixer until it is creamy and the cheese is completely combined. Spread it into a baking dish.



(Pretend all the cream cheese is mixed into my pumpkin. I only have one beater for my hand mixer at the moment because the kids buried mine somewhere. We haven't found it yet.)

Next, mix the sour cream, green chilies and jalapenos in a bowl.



Spread it over the pumpkin mixture.



Now, chop some green onion, olives and tomatoes. Sprinkle them over the top of it all.



And there you have it, one incredible easy to make dip. And, you can use low fat cream cheese and light sour cream to make it a little healthier if you wanted to.

Here is where I found the original recipe.

I have made some changes to suit our tastes. Feel free to do the same.

1-15oz can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
1-8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons jarred jalapeno juice
1-8 oz container sour cream
2 Tablespoons chopped jarred jalapenos
1-4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1-2 1/4 oz can sliced olives, chopped

Mix first 3 ingredients, combine well. Spread into an 8x8 inch baking dish. Mix sour cream, green chilies and jalapenos. Spread over pumpkin layer. Sprinkle tomatoes, green onions and olives. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Serve with chips or crackers for dipping.



Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Bloopers


Take a look at some of the less-than-perfect pictures from our recent photo shoot.











Have a good weekend!

Sandwich Buns




These are some rolls I made for our dinner last night. They are rather plain, because my girls don't like much extra stuff in a hamburger bun or a sandwich bun. But, you can certainly add what you want to them, or try them plain. They are good for hamburgers or to use like we did, for BBQ beef sandwiches.

They are rather simple to make, and I think they are worth the time that they take. They are sturdier than a store bought bun, which makes them nice for hamburgers or sandwiches that have a lot of toppings or wet ingredients.

First, we combine the water, yeast, salt and sugar. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.


Stir in the flour.

Turn the dough out and sprinkle it with flour. Knead your bread for 5 minutes.



Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise about an hour or until doubled in size.



It'll look a little like this. Turn it out onto the counter.



Shape it into 8 dough balls and flatten them out onto a cookie sheet.



Here is where technique differs a little from a loaf of bread. I don't let them until double again. I turn on the oven and when it comes up to temperature, I call it good and put them into the oven. They look like this, not much of a raise at all.



Bake them for about 25 minutes or until they are brown and sound hollow when tapped. You could brush the tops with butter when they come out of the oven to make a softer top if you would like, it's up to you.



Me? I like to split one when they are hot and butter it up. You can do whatever you would like, but I do hope that you will try them soon. They are very simple and so good. If you are going to the trouble of making a homemade hamburger dinner for your family go the extra step and make these too. It'll make you meal extra special.

This is where I found the original recipe: Grandmother Bread

3 cups of warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7 cups flour


Put the water, yeast, sugar and salt into a bowl and mix to combine. Let it sit 5 minutes. Add 3 cups flour and mix well. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can, turn out onto floured counter and begin to knead, adding flour as you need it to prevent sticking. Knead for 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Gently punch down the dough and turn out onto floured counter, divide into 2 portions and shape into loaves. Place into greased loaf pans, cover and let rise until double. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. When bread is double, bake for about an hour or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from bread pans and place the bread on its side on a cooling rack. Let cool before slicing.















Friday, September 24, 2010

Need A Quick Dinner This Weekend? Here Ya go!

                       Here is a quick post full of links to make a Mexican themed meal this weekend!






Have a wonderful weekend, and don't forget about all the fall goodness coming up on Monday!

Punkin Chunkin

Yesterday it was suggested in the comments that I show you all my favorite pumpkin recipes. So, I decided as a way to usher in fall I will be making 7 (!) pumpkin recipes next week. I'll do easy ones and hard ones and everything in between so that everyone can find something to make.
I use pumpkin all through the year, not just in the fall. I stock up canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) when it goes on sale around Thanksgiving.I have heard that there was another pumpkin shortage this year, so it might be a little harder to get your hands on. They said there was a shortage last year too, but I didn't have any trouble finding any. Who knows, just keep your eyes peeled!
I want to know if anyone has a recipe request or a preference for sweet things or savory ones? If no one speaks up I'm going to make all of my favorite pumpkin recipes. That means bread, muffins, cookies, cheesecake and more!
Then I'm going to have to find some new friends to give it all too so I don't eat it all and reverse the results of my juice fast a couple months ago. That would be tragic.
I am looking forward to sharing my favorite fall recipes with you!
Monday starts "Cooke Cooks-Punkin Week", don't miss it~!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cheese Bread


The girls and I were home alone last night while Kevin had a work thing to attend. We decided that we wanted to have grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. We worked hard yesterday cleaning the house and the yard and just trying to get things cleaned up before the rain really starts. A soup night sounded perfect to me, but I started thinking how good it would be if we had cheese bread to make out sandwiches out of.
That thought led to this amazingly flavored, easy to make bread. I can see this going into our regular rotation of meals, maybe reincarnated as dinner rolls or a bubble bread sometimes, just to change things up a bit.

Here is how I made it:

Put the warm water, yeast, sugar (I used honey) and salt in the bowl. Mix it up and let it sit for 5 minutes.





When it looks all bubbly and smells like a beer in your kitchen it's time to start adding flour.

When you have added enough flour for it to look like this, about 3 or 4 cups worth, I added the cheese.



I used cheddar here, but I think monteray jack, pepper jack or even mozzarella would be good. Add what you have!
Mix that up and add more flour, until it it starting to come together in a ball. It might still be a little sticky, but that's ok. You're going to add more flour as you knead it.



See all those bits of cheese? Those are going to melt into your bread and leave a delicious flavor.
Turn the bread out onto a floured counter top and sprinkle more flour over the top.


knead for about 5 minutes or until you have a smooth ball. Remember that you are creating gluten here and you need to really get in there. Fold the dough in half and press away from you using your entire upper body. Turn the dough in a quarter turn, fold in half and repeat the kneading motion. Keep doing this until the dough gets quite elastic.


Like this. Now you are going to grease a bowl, I usually use the bowl I made it in because I am lazy and don't want to dirty another dish, but you can use a new bowl. I just spray the bowl with cooking spray and put the dough in. Spray the top of the bread and cover with a towel. Let sit for an hour or until it has raised double.


Turn it out onto the counter and divide into two.


Flatten them out into a rectangle.


Roll up and pinch to seal the edges. Place into your greased bread pans.


Cover and let rise for another hour, or until doubled in size.


Like so. Next you are going to cover them with a little more cheese.


Put them into the oven for about an hour or until they sound hollow when tapped.


Take them out of the oven and remove from the pans. Place on a cooling rack on their sides. This is important, if you sit bread on it's bottom while it is still hot the bread will collapse on itself and that is no good. You have just spent about 3 hours making this bread, you don't want something to go wrong now!


Let it cool, slice off a big piece and pat yourself on the back, you just made some seriously delicious bread!

This is where I found the original recipe: Grandmother Bread

Recipe:

3 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
7 cups flour
3 1/2 cups shredded cheese 

Put the water, yeast, sugar and salt into a bowl and mix to combine. Let it sit 5 minutes. Add 3 cups flour and mix well. Add 3 cups of shredded cheese, saving 1/2 cup for later. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can, turn out onto floured counter and begin to knead, adding flour as you need it to prevent sticking. Knead for 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Gently punch down the dough and turn out onto floured counter, divide into 2 portions and shape into loaves. Place into greased loaf pans, cover and let rise until double. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. When bread is double sprinkle reserved cheese on top and bake for about an hour or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from bread pans and place the bread on its side on a cooling rack. Let cool before slicing.