Blueberry Lemon Bread Pudding

Hello, Foodies!

I have never had bread pudding until working in the commercial kitchen at my culinary school. I’ve always heard of bread pudding and it seemed to be something chefs on food network loved to make. And Oh how they made it look so dang delish! I knew it was something I wanted to taste but never had the opportunity and my fear of making custards scared me out of trying to make it all together. Something about bread and pudding threw me off a little, too. So you could imagine why I was too intimidated to make it. I’d rather taste it first so I knew what I was working with.

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Little did I know that making a bread pudding is probably one of the easiest things in the world to put together, well so are custards for that matter!

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Still being summer, I wanted to incorporate some flavors of the season and utilize what I already had in my refrigerator from my last shopping trip. I narrowed it down to blueberries, lemons, and peaches- all fruits that pair magically together! I’ve only ever had bread pudding in school and we typically made it with more of a brown sugary, rum, and caramelly flavor. Chef Rob really knew how to make a good one. It was one of my favorite desserts that we served.

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Bread pudding is pretty much a play on french toast. You can add almost anything to it for flavor and deliciousness and it can be served for breakfast, brunch, and dessert. The first time I tried making it at home, I had planned on using a loaf of french bread I had originally bought for spaghetti but of course, my luck would have it that it would go bad the day I was to use it. My mind was in a frenzy at that point because I had already made up the custard and my girls had their little hearts set on it. All I had left was a partially squished loaf of wheat bread (thanks, girls). Yea-um-no! This did not work as I had planned. The wheat bread was too tough and savory for my liking and didn’t really go well with lemon. Oddly enough, my girls loved and devoured it. I was not so impressed.

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Time for round two with a fresher french bread and a little more sugar and eggs added to the custard mix. I let it hang out longer in my fridge (yanno, so all the blueberries and lemons can get to know each other) and everything worked out perfect! I loved the tanginess of this dish and the way the warm blueberries burst in your mouth. That’s why I am uber excited to share this recipe with all of you. I hope that you don’t make the same mistake as I did and get discouraged from making it at home.

Blueberry Lemon Bread Pudding

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Loaf of french bread, cut into 1″ cubesIMG_0100 copy
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice from half of a lemon
  • 1 pint of blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add bread cubes and blueberries to a large bowl.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of cream, the milk, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the cream mixture to the bread cubes and stir to combine.
  3. Wrap with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator 1- 24 hours. (The longer it sits, the better).
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  5. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish or ramekins. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup of cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake until the center is set- about 1 hour.
  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes and dust with powdered sugar.
  8. Dig in and Enjoy!

 

I hope you liked my recipe for bread pudding. It didn’t take much to win the hearts of the picky eaters I have running rabid in my home and it will be a recipe I make over and over!

Got a different variation of bread pudding that you like best? Share it with me. I would love to give it a try!

Don’t forget to give my blog a quick follow for new recipes and updates in my crazy life.  ❤

 

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Angry Orchard Cupcakes

Hello Foodies! I am so excited to tell you about these awesome cupcakes! If you like apples and you like hard cider you will love these Angry Orchard Cupcakes!

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Angry orchard Cupcakes with my Fireball Caramel Sauce

My husband and I don’t drink often, but when we do our go-to drink (next to my Moscato) is an ice, cold hard cider. We’ve tried a handful of ciders and we’ve narrowed our favorites down to Strongbow and Angry Orchard.

I made these cupcakes a little over a year ago for my classmates. They were a hit. I actually adapted the recipe from the blog, Brown Sugar but I wanted to see if I could come up with a recipe of my own.

To get these deliciously moist cupcakes, I simply found a basic cake recipe, combined Angry Orchard Hard Cider (Crisp Apple), Green Apples, and a few spices to top off this apple perfection. I find the hard cider enhances flavor of the apples so it’s imperative you do not leave the cider out. If you don’t like the idea of adding alcohol to your cupcakes, no worries, the alcohol actually cooks out leaving behind its crisp flavor!_MG_0543 copy

Top these bad boys off with a Caramel Buttercream frosting and a drizzle of my Fireball Caramel Sauce and they are sure to please!

Here’s how I make them:

Angry Orchard Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 green apples, cored and peeledAngryOrchardCupcakes2
  • 2 Sticks of butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp.
  • 2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Crisp Apple+ 1/4 cup, set aside

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare cupcake pan by lining them with your choice of paper cupcake liners.
  2. Start by cutting your peeled apples into small dices. Add them to a bowl and pour in 1/4 Cup of the hard cider. Set aside until the end of the mixing process.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat together softened butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar; until light and fluffy. Scrap bowl down.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Working in thirds, add to butter mix. The mix may look separated but that’s ok.
  5. In a separate bowl mix in flour, baking powder, salt and spices until evenly distributed.
  6. With mixer on low, slowly add in dry ingredients. Careful not to over mix.
  7. When dry ingredients are incorporated, add vanilla; Add in the remaining Angry Orchard while still mixing.
  8. Remove mixing bowl from stand mixer. Fold in diced apples and the cider it has been marinating in.
  9. Using a portion (ice-cream) scoop,  fill the cupcake liners up about almost to the top (this is an airy batter so it will not do a lot of rising)
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  11. Top with my Buttercream frosting and drizzle with my Fireball Caramel Sauce. Enjoy the awesomeness!
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Fireball Caramel sauce drizzled over my Angry orchard Cupcakes

I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I enjoyed creating it! If you like a super moist cake, these cupcakes are for you! I find that the more tart the apple, the better the bite!

Got a recipe you wanna share? Send them to me in the comments. I am always on the look out for new things to try.

Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me and let’s chat! 🙂

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Homemade Caramel Sauce

The other day I gave you my recipe for Caramel Buttercream Frosting  (Along with my version of caramel buttercream, inside) for my Angry Orchard Cupcakes. Today I want to give you the recipe for my Homemade Caramel Sauce. After many trial and errors, I finally developed a recipe that I am sure you all will love as much as I do!

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I LOVE caramel!! I’ve never been able to turn down a soft, chewy piece of caramel candy or a warm drizzle of velvety caramel sauce over a cold scoop of vanilla ice-cream. In fact, when Mason (my hubby) and I make a random stop to Starbucks (these stops seem to be more frequent, lately), he always orders the Salted Caramel Cake Pops. That is, until they stopped selling them. Boo. (Insert Sad face…here).

This past Christmas, my husband asked me to make a cheesecake for his best friend and his wife (I still haven’t perfected my cheesecake recipe-boo! Sorry, Holly.). He told me that she, too, is a big fan of caramel and that’s about the only dessert she will eat. So, with that in mind, I decided I wanted to give the whole “make-your-own” caramel sauce a try. I love trying to go above and beyond when I get into baking. I guess that’s me trying to impress people, I don’t know, but being in culinary school I should be stepping up my game somewhere.

When I started, I kept in mind that the caramel is going to get its amber color and nutty flavor from the cooking down of the sugar (caramelization). I just didn’t know the best method to start with, so I tried it two ways. The first way, the very unsuccessful way, I added about 2 cups of sugar with a few tablespoons of water and cooked it in a large pot over medium heat. It started out great with very little color changes. After a few more minutes, it started crystallizing. Big nope. I tried adding a little more water to thin it and rid it of the crystals but it only worked for so long. I decided straight away that this wasn’t the approach I wanted to stick with so I remembered what Chef Rob told me about Gordon Ramsey’s method. For a simple caramel, Ramsey adds a layer of sugar in a pan over heat and lets the sugar melt down. He swirls the pan making sure the excess sugar gets melted as well. He adds butter and Viola! Caramel!

Sure enough, this way worked best for me! Ofcourse, I added a few more things to make it more of a silky-smooth sauce. This caramel has a deep amber color and is very rich in flavor that reminds me of Creme Brulee.

Here is how I make mine:

Homemade Rich, Velvety Caramel Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Butter
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 tbs. Heavy whipping cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a large pot over medium to medium high heat.
  2. Add 1 cup of sugar to pot and swirl to make an even layer over the bottom.
  3. Wait for sugar to start melting then swirl pot occasionally to finish melting the rest of sugar in pot. (bring off heat every now and then if you think it’s cooking too fast).
  4. Once all the sugar is melted and has an amber color, remove from heat and whisk in butter.
  5. Once butter is incorporated, gradually whisk in the cream. Do this step slowly to keep the caramel from getting sugar clumps.
  6. If the caramel sauce seems like it is too thick in the bend of the pot, place it back on the heat and whisk constantly until it is easily incorporated back in. (As soon as you return it to the heat it will bubble up so be sure to whisk quickly).
  7. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before using diving into this velvety smooth, rich decadent sauce!

This recipe may be a little complicated at first, but with practice and patience it will come easily after you get the caramelization of the sugar down pat. If you would like to see how Gordon Ramsey does it click here.

I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know how it worked for you. What would you use this sauce on?

Got a recipe you wanna share? Send it to me and I will give it a try and even feature it on my blog. Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me and let’s chat! 🙂

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Buttercream Frosting

 

Hello lovelies!

Raise your hand if you love cake. I’m juuust gonna slowly raise my hand and answer my own question because I LOVE cake. Chocolate. Fruity. Cheesecake. You name it.  I even love them molten, just oozing with chocolaty goodness. I love it in tiers; I love them in sheets. I love them all. But what I love more than cake is the frosting.

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There are those who will scrape it off and eat the cake plain… it’s safe to say- I am not one of those people. Sometimes I will only get a piece of cake for that heaping mound on the edges. I could eat it by the spoonfuls. (#guilty #dontjudgeme)
My favorite kind is a good ol’fashioned buttercream! I love its buttery flavor, the fluffy texture and I love how you can work with different consistencies for decorating.

Yesterday, I created a recipe for Angry Orchard Cupcakes (I am dying to post the recipe but I figure I better get the other components first 😉 ). Everything was homemade from the cakes to Fireball Caramel Sauce. No, I was not the first to come up with the idea of adding hard cider to an apple cake batter, but this version of the recipe is completely mine.

When I came up with the idea of recreating my own recipe for the cupcakes, I had caramel apples on my mind. I needed a frosting to top it so I created a Caramel Buttercream. I’m sure there are other bloggers who have made a buttercream recipe that’s the same as mine- it’s kinda hard to come up with an original recipe these days- but this recipe is so good I had to share my version with my foodies.

Honest to goodness- this is the BEST recipe for a basic Buttercream Frosting! You need to try this, like… now! And because I love you all so well, I threw in directions for my awesome Caramel Buttercream, too.

Here’s how I make mine:

Basic Buttercream Frosting

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened_MG_0543 copy
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • Heavy whipping cream

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, with a hand or stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on low speed. Mix until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

2. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for desired spreading/piping consistency.

3. Scoop into a piping bag and pipe decoratively onto cupcakes, or spread onto cupcakes as desired.

Caramel Buttercream

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Buttercream recipe from above
  • 1 cup of Caramel Sauce, cooled (store bought or HOMEMADE)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix ingredients as you would for the Basic Buttercream, omitting the cream until after adding the caramel. 
  2. Add in the Caramel sauce and mix on medium speed. 
  3. If needed, add cream for desired consistency. 
  4. Scoop into piping bag and pipe decoratively onto cupcakes, or spread as desired. 

NOTES
  • This recipe is very versatile. You can change the flavor by adding in desired flavored extracts and flavorings. You can also double and triple this recipe with ease.
  • Do not skimp on the butter- it’s a must! If you use shortening or margarine, you are drastically altering it’s flavor and consistency. Trust me, I’ve been there and nothing compares to the good stuff!
  • If you add in color, I suggest using gel coloring. The liquid color may thin your frosting too much by the time you get your desired color.
  • If you have too much frosting, freeze it 😉 Put the leftover buttercream in an airtight box and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. If frozen then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

See? Simple. Delicious. Versatile. I hope this recipe is enough to make you wanna bake a cake and whip up a batch of frosting! Or maybe skip the cake altogether and just grab some spoons and go to town. I know that’s what I’ll be doing.

Got a recipe you wanna share? Send it to me and I will give it a try and even feature it on my blog. Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Shoot me a message and let’s chat!

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Melt-In-Ya-Mouth Cinnamon Rolls

Ah… snow days. With each falling snowflake, I feel all motivation to do anything productive slipping from my body. I was supposed to have class today but thanks to the 3 or more inches of snow coming to Eastern Kentucky and Rasputia- my ’93 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (What? Don’t tell my you’ve never named your vehicle), I’m taking it easy at home with my ladyloves. On my way to school yesterday, she decided she was going to break down on me. As old as my jeep is, she’s been faithful to me for going on 5 years, so I can’t be too upset. Just glad I hadn’t made it too far into my destination. That could have been bad! 

What does a student and momma of two do on a snow day? Catch up on homework while my girls flip back and forth between these crazy Baby Alive and Suprise Egg youtube videos! How the crap my kids found these videos and why they’ve taken such a strong interest in them is beyond me, but they drive me CRAZY. 

I feel I must confess… I’m not really doing my homework. I’m supposed to be and I do have everything pulled up for Interpersonal Communications, but I just can’t bring myself to focus on anything other than Cinnamon rolls. Yea, I said it. I’m thinking of a piping hot, big, ol’fat, Melt-In-Ya-Mouth Cinnamon roll just oozing with a sticky glaze! _MG_0450 copy

I got that lazy girl status going on today and the only thing I want to do is whip up a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls, cuddle up with my ladies underneath no less than 3 layers of blankets and binge watch Harry Potter movies in honor of Professor Snape (so sad to learn on Alan Rickman’s passing).  Is that too much for a girl to ask? 

 It’s no secret, I’ve got a sweet tooth. What better way to calm it down than to make cinnamon rolls? When I was younger I wasn’t brave enough to try making them homemade. Anything with yeast intimidated me.  That all changed when I took an interest in bread making and our class went over the Yeast Bread section in our On Cooking textbook. The recipe we used was so simple with perfect results. Since then, I keep a jar of yeast on hand at all times and I try to bake bread any chance I get. _MG_0464 copy

Some time after making them in the test kitchens, I lost my recipe. A sad day that was when I finally realized it.  I looked everywhere. Eventually I gave up and tried a handful I found on Pinterest. Some were fails while others were good but they just didn’t hold up to the recipe we used. Sometime later I randomly found the one we used hiding in my old backpack. (Boy was I thrilled). This recipe gives Cinnabun a run for it’s money. 

I have no doubt that once you try this recipe you’ll never go back to store bought again. Here is how I make them…

 

Melt-In-Ya-Mouth Cinnamon Rolls

INGREDIENTS:

For the Rolls:_MG_0428 copy

  • 3 1/2 -4 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 Tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 C. milk
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 egg

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 5 Tbs. butter melted
  • 1/3 C. finely chopped pecans, optional but encouraged 😉 

For the Glaze:

  • 1 C. powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • 2 Tbs. butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 Tbs. milk

DIRECTIONS: 

For the rolls and filling:

  1. In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. 
  2. In a quart sized sauce pan, heat milk over low heat until very warm or a thermometer reads 120-125ºF. Add the warm milk, butter and egg to flour mixture. 
  3. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, stopping frequently to scrap the sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Do this until flour mixture is moistened. 
  4. Crank mixer to medium speed and beat for an additional minute. Lower speed and add in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time just until dough is soft, pulls away from the bowl and is easy enough to handle. ( You may not use all 4 cups of flour. Do not force it) Once flour is incorporated, crank speed to medium and let mix for 1 minute. 
  5. Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn the dough out. Knead for about 5 minutes until dough is smooth and springy. If dough starts to stick, sprinkle extra flour as needed but be careful not to incorporate too much as the dough will be be tough. 
  6. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, spray a little more cooking spray over top and cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm, draft free place for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  7. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Grease  or add parchment paper to a sheet pan. When dough is ready, sprinkle work surface with flour. Punch dough down and turn out onto floured surface. With a rolling pin (or your hands) roll dough to about 15×10 inch rectangle. 
  8. Spread melted butter over dough to 1/2 inch from edges. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar mixture and nuts. 
  9. Beginning at the longest side, roll the dough tightly. Using a sharp/serrated knife, cut into 15- 1 inch slices (or 12- 1 1/2 inch slices for colossal sized rolls). Place slightly apart on prepared sheet pan; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place and addition 30 minutes or until rolls have doubled in size.
  10. Remove plastic wrap and brush rolls with melted butter. Bake in preheated over for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before adding glaze.

For the Glaze:

  1. In a small bowl, mix in all the glaze ingredients until smooth; adding enough milk so glaze is thing enough to drizzle. 

Notes

  • I know this seems like a lot of steps, but please don’t let that discourage you from trying it out. I promise- It’s worth the extra work!!! You really can’t mess this up unless you kill your yeast. 
  • It is very important that you do not scald your milk. Yeast are live organisms. When you add milk that is too hot, it will kill them. You need the yeast to get a good height and texture. I like to use a thermometer so if you do the same, keep the temperature between 110-125. A nice happy medium 🙂 
  • I must mention, the icing on the rolls in my pictures have a cream cheese icing. I like to flip flop between the two but they are equally delicious!

 

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I really hope you liked this recipe for Melt-In-Ya-Mouth Cinnamon Rolls as much as I do. Be warned that once you make them for friends or family, someone is going to start expecting them at every meeting. Take it from me- I can’t go to my mother in-laws house without bringing her a batch all to herself. 

If you give this recipe a try, let me know how it turned out. I’d love to hear all about it! 

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Early American Pumpkin Pie

Yesterday, I gave you my recipe for a Golden, Flaky Pie Dough, but what’s a pie dough without its filling? One thing my momma would always let me bake for our holiday dinners was a pumpkin pie. I’ve tried many pumpkin pie recipes in my day but none could hold up to the one I found in the “America’s Favorite Brand Name Baking” book. I’m oober happy to share this one with all of you, lovelies. It’s a keeper and one I plan to pass along to my little ladies.

I really love how this recipe has an old fashioned taste and brings back warm memories of family gatherings the moment this spiced, pumpkiny custard hits my mouth. It has all the flavors of fall in one, round dessert.

If you love pumpkin flavored desserts as much as I do, you must give this recipe for Pumpkin Pie a try. I’ve tweaked it up a little to my liking (like, um, adding a little vanilla… and I think I added a touch of maple syrup, once) and the flavor is amazing! Here’s how I make it:

 

Early American Pumpkin Pie

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-9″ unbaked pie shell
  • 1 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 c. milk
    Pumpkin Pie
    Please excuse the cell phone pic, this was all I had handy. I’ll post better soon 😉 

    1 c. sugar

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbs. butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425° F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except pie shell in a large bowl; blend well.
  3. Poor into pie shell.
  4. Bake 45-50 minutes or until knife inserted into filling comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into.
  6. Serve with a pumpkin spiced Creme Chantilly (whipped cream) and enjoy the wonderful flavors of fall! 🙂

I hope you liked this recipe for Early American Pumpkin Pie. I’m sure it will win favorite with your guests
. We love it here!

Oh, and because I love pumpkin so much, here are a few Fun Facts about Pumpkin Pie:

  • Pumpkin pie was not served at the first Thanksgiving, though pumpkins were used in other recipes at the time.
  • The American colonists used pumpkin in pie crusts, but not in the filling.
  • In 1929, Libby’s canned pumpkin was introduced to America. Libby’s is not actually pumpkin but another kind of squash called a Dickinson that also has orange flesh. (I feel like I’ve been living a lie when I found this one out!!)
  • The world’s largest pumpkin pie weighed over 350 pounds and was made with 80 pounds of pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, and 144 eggs
  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites. (ok, it’s not about the pie but it is about the pumpkin)

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Golden, Flaky Pie Dough

Ahh. The holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is about four days away and I can already smell the turkey being pulled from the oven! Thanksgiving is my absolute, all-time favorite holiday (Halloween being a close second). It’s the only holiday that folks don’t “expect”gifts or fancy things. This holiday’s only requirement is good food and good fun with the people you love.

Every year,  my sweet husband and myself host a Turkey Dinner- with all the fixings of a traditional thanksgiving dinner- the Saturday directly following Thanksgiving. This year makes our fifth dinner (wow!) and each year we have a great turn out. I don’t dare host it on the actual holiday. It’s too much on everyone between all the competition of family time. If you’re like my husband and I, you probably do a lot of bouncing around between family dinners on each side of your families (Stressful, isn’t it?).

To start the holiday off right (this year) I decided I wasn’t going to slave away the night before and day of my dinner. I figured a little planning ahead and pre-prepping food that can be made ahead would save so much time and I MIGHT actually get to get myself ready in time for guests to arrive. So far it’s working out perfectly. I managed to make and freeze my pie dough, an apple pie, punch and today I’m going to make a pumpkin roll (recipes to follow).

What’s a thanksgiving dinner without pie?  And what’s a pie without pie dough? We all have our favorite pie dough recipes, some that may have even got passed down through the years from a beloved family member. Me? I never really found a dough recipe that stood the test of time (at least, not yet). However, last year in the test kitchens we were introduced to a dough recipe that they used all the time and still use to this day! It’s a great dough that delivers a beautiful golden, flaky crust when baked. Oh, and best of all… this dough can be used for savory meals like pot pies, too! 😉

So here is how we make it 🙂

Flaky Pie Dough

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 c. Flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2/3 c. shortening
  • 5-6 tbs. Cold Water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  2. With a pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into the flour until particles are about the size of small peas.
  3. Gradually add in a couple tablespoons of water at a time until the flour mixture is moist enough come together. (Do not add too much water or dough will be sticky).
  4. Divide dough into 2 balls.
  5. Lightly dust board or cleaned table with flour and roll dough into about 1/8″ thickness about 2″ larger than your pie plate.

NOTES:

  • Follow your pie recipe for further instructions on baking your dough. Some recipes, like cream pies,  may require you to dock (prick your dough with a fork) and blind bake (adding some form of weight, like a layer of parchment paper with dried beans, to your dough to keep the dough from bubbling up) before adding the filling. Other recipes, like custard pies, require a raw dough before baking.
  • When preparing your dough, be careful not to over work it. Overworking will cause your dough to be tough and hard to work with.
  • This dough actually freezes really well, so if you’re like me and can use all the extra time you’re thrown, make a double batch of dough ahead of time, separate into individual balls, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for about 2 months.

Like my recipe for a Flaky Pie Dough? Let me know in the comments. If you have a favorite dough recipe you would like to share, send it to me and I’ll give it a try!

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Fresh Apple Cake with Buttermilk Glaze

Fresh Apple Cake
Please overlook the crappy cell phone shot. I took this at school before digging in and devouring every crumb!

Autumn is here and apple season is in full swing. I could go on and on about all the sweet and savory meals you can make with these delicious fruits but there’s just not enough time in the day. Not to mention, all of the mouthwatering drink options you can concoct (like my apple cider sangria I made the other day)!

This semester at school, we were assigned three reports on other international cuisines- Jamaica, China and Germany! The week each report was due, we would make a full meal (packed with tons of flavor) in honor of the selected report to serve the whole cafeteria. This past week it was Germany (my favorite of the three). I learned so much about this country and its cuisine (like, asparagus was once part of a woman’s dowry…weird, huh?).

So, what was on our menu? Chef Rob (our head chef) and Chef Jason (Rob’s assistant chef) came up with Pork Schnitzel with a homemade smokey gravy, Au gratin Potatoes, Sauteed Green and White Asparagus, Rolls, and Fresh Apple Cake. Buddy, this meal was one of the best we served, so far. If you were on campus that day, you did not want to miss out on it.

The way our kitchen runs, we are assigned a station (bread, grill, salad and dessert) for a two week rotation. Rotating positions helps us to learn different things that go on in a kitchen. You eventually realize that you may go into that kitchen thinking that the savory side is your strong suit, but when you’re put on the bakery side, you find that you actually love and enjoy it better. That’s just what happens. I happen to be on bread (one of my favorites) so I was in charge of making over 100 rolls.

Chef Rob is big on doing pre-prep the day before, which is great because it helps us speed up production for the next day. He asked me to make four Fresh Apple Cakes for our German inspired dinner. I have never made this cake before Wednesday, so I was surprised at how thick the batter was. I was almost doubtful it would be a moist cake. Actually, I think I was more bothered by the fact that it didn’t call for vanilla (like, why the crap not? Vanilla is everything!). My fellow classmate and one of my best friends, Sarah, finished out the cake by making a buttermilk sauce to pour over the top of it. This cake was Amaze-balls! The fresh apples in the cake made up for the moisture and the buttermilk sauce oozing down the sides was enough to make your mouth water just looking at it.

Got tons of apples you need to use up before they go bad? Try this recipe out, you don’t want to pass this one up!

Fresh Apple Cake

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • 2 sticks of margarine
  • 2 c sugarred-apples
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups chopped apples

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cream the margarine and sugar together.
  2. Add eggs and mix well.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the creamed mixture.
  4. Add buttermilk and blend.
  5. Add apples.
  6. Pour into greased 9×13 pan. Bake approximately 1 hour (or until cake pulls away from sides and toothpick comes out clean) at 350°F.

Buttermilk Glaze 

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ C. sugar
  • ½ c. margarine
  • ¼ c. buttermilk
  • 1 tbs. light corn syrup
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Blend sugar and margarine together.
  2. Add buttermilk and corn syrup.
  3. Cook to a rolling boil.
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over cake while hot.
  5. Grab a big slice of Fresh Apple Cake, sit back and enjoy 🙂 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe for Fresh Apple Cake with a Buttermilk Glaze! If you give this one a try, post about it in the comments! Got an apple recipe you wanna share? Share them with me and I’ll give it a shot. 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies- So good, it makes ya wanna slap ya momma!


Chocolate Chip CookiesThe holidays are fast approaching and my “baking season” has already began. Growing up, one of my all time favorite things to do was to bake cookies with my mom and brothers (or whoever wanted to bake with me). With each drop of the cookie dough, my anticipation became harder to contain. Only minutes would stand between me and that piping hot, chewy delight. That delicious fresh-baked aroma that wafted throughout the house was intoxicating to my soul and made the wait seem like hours. I never really grew out of my love of baking. It’s only intensified, especially now that my daughter is taking an interest in cooking with mommy.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is my oldest, enjoying the rewards of her hard work and patience.

When I look at her, I see a lot of myself in her. Not only because she’s a spitting image of me, but because we share the same interests. I feel we bond best in our kitchen. I always knew when becoming a parent that I would try to pass down a little of my cooking skills to my children. When she was two, we gave the mommy-daughter cooking a try. Even sewed her an apron of her own so she could be just like mommy. Yea, anyone who’s ever been around toddlers can probably understand my struggles there. It worked for as long as her attention span would allow or when she decided she wanted to listen to mommy (which was almost never). Being the spirited little four-year old she is now, she seems to have taken a better interest in the kitchen.

Today, she begged me to make some cookies (more specifically, chocolate chip). Excited and filled with the memories of my childhood, I gladly searched for the recipe we use in school. No joke, this recipe is for the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had (and I’m not one for that kind, always been an oatmeal raisin kinda gal) and I got to share it with my little lady. Hopefully, with time, I can teach her to do great things.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
My youngest dipping her cookie into a cold glass of milk

The first time I’ve made this cookie was last year in the test kitchens. I was really surprised when I found the secret ingredient to this recipe (and it really makes all the difference) was chopped pecans. The pecans add a subtle nutty flavor to the cookies without overpowering the chocolate chips. It instantly became a favorite, especially when I seen how thick they were after they came out of the oven. They are so good, it makes you wanna slap your Momma (ok, well maybe not really slap your momma, but well… you get the picture)!

Allergic to nuts or just don’t like pecans but still want to try this out? Don’t worry. You can omit the pecans or substitute for a nut you do like. Here is my (well, the culinary class’) Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz. unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. granulated sugar
  • 6 oz. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 10 oz. All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 oz. pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 lb. (16 oz. )Chocolate Chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease your pan. 
  2. Cream the butter and the sugars in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light, approximately 5 minutes at medium speed.
  3. Add the eggs to the creamed mixture, one at a time.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Stir the salt, flour and baking soda together and add to the creamed mixture.
  6. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips
  7. Portion dough using #20 ice-cream scoop onto a prepared sheet pan and bake until the cookies are golden brown and cooked through (around 10-15 minutes, depending on how big your cookie is).
  8. Once out of the oven, let cookies rest on sheet pan for about 2 minutes to continue carryover cooking. Once rested, let cool on cooling rack.
  9. Grab a cold glass of milk; a soft, warm, chewy cookie and experience the delicious feel of chocolate slowly melting in your mouth. Enjoy 🙂

Continue reading “Chocolate Chip Cookies- So good, it makes ya wanna slap ya momma!”

Chocolate brownies

_MG_0709 copyMmm… Chocolate! Who doesn’t love that wonderful confection!? Bittersweet, Milk, and even dark chocolate… I love them all! One of the best ways I take my chocolate is in brownie form! There’s nothing like pulling a hot pan of brownies out of your oven and dusting it with a thin layer of powdered sugar. I love scarfing down a (still warm) brownie and a tall glass of ice cold milk. It almost melts in your mouth as you savor that first bite!

I found this recipe a couple years ago when pilfering through my cookbooks. Since then, I always refer back to it and mix things up!

Here’s how I make them:

Chocolate Brownies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 cups sugar_MG_0719 copy
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  2. Add melted butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir together.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a spoon after each addition.
  4. Add cocoa; beat until well blended.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; beating well. Stir in nuts, if desired.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake 30-35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar, grab a bar and a tall glass of milk, and enjoy!

 Did you like this recipe for my Chocolate brownies? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. After trying this recipe you will have no reason to use the old boxed brownies again.

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brownieBB.jpg

Creme Chantilly- sweetened whipped cream

Hey, don’t let the name fool you into thinking this is going to be too hard to construct. Creme Chantilly is actually just a fancy way of saying “whipped cream”. Let me tell you, this is one of the easiest recipes you will make. Just 3 ingredients and a couple steps! I promise, that easy! 😉

I first made this a couple years ago. I always like to make it around thanksgiving as the perfect topping to my famous (to my family) pumpkin pie. I knew it then as just whipped cream.

Lemon Custard on an Italian Meringue tart– topped with Creme Chantilly and Candied lemon Peels.

Last semester, we were making lemon custard on Italian meringue tarts. While everyone else stopped at just making the lemon custard, I just wasn’t satisfied with the consistency. So what did I do? I went a step further. With my instructor’s permission (she always encourages us to use our imagination and creativity in the kitchen and wants us to experiment), I made my own “whipped cream”. I then gently folded this creamy goodness into my lemony custard to give it a little more life! Before, the custard being sorta runny, would spill over the sides. My use of the whipped cream gave it a little more firmness to hold it’s shape. I then topped it with a dallop of the extra cream and garnished with two candied lemon peels.  That’s when Mrs. Peggy (my instructor) informed me that my use of powdered sugar is what makes this a Creme Chantilly.

See? I told you it’s nothing to scare you away. Ya gotta admit… the name makes it sound more enticing doesn’t it? Makes me feel like I’ve put tedious hours into preparing it, when it only really took a few minutes.

Here’s how I make it:

Creme Chantilly

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (may use more)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chill mixing bowl and beaters in freezer for 15 minutes. This step is optional but does help firm up the cream.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the whip attachment or a hand mixer, whip the cream until ripples start to form.
  3. Add the vanilla and sugar and whip until it forms stiff peaks.
  4. (Taste) Add more sugar if necessary and whip to desired consistency.
  5. Top it on your favorite desserts!

NOTES:

  •  When making pumpkin flavored desserts that beg for a heaping spoonful of the Creme Chantilly, I like to add a tablespoon or two of left over pumpkin puree as it’s whipping. Don’t be afraid to spice it up!

Viola! You’re done. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now you can make your own whipped… eh ehm… Creme Chantilly in the comfort of your own home. After making this, you won’t have any reason to buy the store bought stuff again!

Did you like this recipe for Creme Chantilly? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Pineapple Casserole

_MG_0631 copy  “Mmm…mmm… mmmmmm…” The sound of satisfaction after taking that first bite of a dessert so wonderful, you could make-out with your spoon! Ok, maybe not really “make-out” with your spoon, but you certainly find it hard to stop after just one bite. Making sure you leave no crumb left behind!

Which is exactly how it was for me a few hours ago when I threw together some pineapples, mandarin oranges, and crackers. Yes! I said all three of those in the same sentence, and yes, it is a dessert. More like a dessert casserole.

Every year I host a big turkey dinner at my house for close family and friends to gather and hang out after the stress of Thanksgiving house jumping is over. Being someone who loves to cook, I find it easier just to go to family gatherings, for both sides of our family, on the actual holiday. The following Saturday I set aside for showing off my cooking and hostess skills! Long story short, I always request that everyone bring a dish to beef up the variety on the table. My husband’s father’s girlfriend always brings an awesome pineapple dessert, similar to this. It’s a great combination of sweet and savory. I wasn’t real sure about how she made hers but I worked my magic and made something equally delicious!

This recipe infuses summer favorites with the comforts of fall, all in one dish!

Pineapple Casserole

  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (save 1/4 cup juice)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice from the crushed pineapple above
  • 1 stick butter or margarine or 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup, melted
  • 40 to 50 Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts (Optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, vanilla, sugar, flour, and pineapple juice.  Mix well.
  2. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray and spread pineapple mixture into the dish. (I used a 1.5 qt. glass loaf pan and had plenty of room)
  3. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed Ritz crackers.
  4. Sprinkle on top of the pineapple.
  5. Add pecans on top.
  6. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 30 to 35 minutes until brown on top.
  7. Grab a fork, dig in, and experience the wonderful things happening inside your mouth! 😉_MG_0568 copy

This would be perfect after some Smokey, Chunky Chili, don’tcha think?

Did you enjoy my Pineapple Casserole recipe? Let me know in the comments below what you thought. Have a favorite fruity dessert recipe you make all the time? Share it with me and I’ll give it a shot._MG_0635 copy

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“Purple” Root Beer Float Cake Balls

The story behind the float…

…A couple days ago, my oldest daughter celebrated her fourth birthday (a bittersweet day for me). I wanted to surprise her by doing something special just for her. Being the culinary student I am, I decided I had better try my hand at cake decorating. A little word of advice for anyone who orders specialty cakes… be kind, respectful, understanding, and appreciate your cake maker. It was no easy task and it especially wasn’t a speedy process. I recently had a minor surgery a couple days prior to making her cake, so you could say by the time it was done, I was spent. Normally I would go all out and make the cake from scratch but due to being operated on just four days before, I figured a shortcut would be more forgiving and just as satisfying.

It was my vision to make her a 4-layer, purple ombre cake with purple ombre rosettes in a sweet buttercream frosting. Eventually, I had my way but not without a minor mishap to start me off. I had already prepared the two round cake tins, filled them and was just about to pop them in the oven when I noticed I forgot to add the food coloring. Without thinking it through, went ahead and mixed a few drops in each tin and threw them in the oven. This caused the cake to stick to the pan in the middle. It could have been saved but I was aiming for perfection.

My first thought was to throw the cake out and just make more. Something in my mind screamed “No!”. While I did bake a couple more batches, I crumbled up the misfit cake and stuffed it in a bowl for later use. Today, the idea of making cake balls popped in my head. I wanted to step outside the box. Gathering all my ingredients I began brainstorming on how I can take the ordinary white (or in this case, purple) cake balls up a notch. To my surprise I had an unopened box of Root Beer concentrate just hanging around my cabinet waiting to be used.

I added a few teaspoons here and there to my cream cheese frosting and the white chocolate. It was completely trial and error, but I am proud to say it actually turned out. My girls devoured them in two seconds, giggling at the fact they were tasting root beer on their chocolate. We couldn’t stop eating them. If you’re a fan of Root Beer Floats as much as we are, you won’t be able to stop with just one. Just ask my husband. 😉

Root Beer Float Cake Balls


Purple Root beer float Cake balls


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Box white cake mix, prepared according to box instructions and cooled
  • 1 cup cream cheese frosting (homemade or store bought), 1-2 tsp Root Beer (RB) concentrate added in
  • 1-2 cups of melted white chocolate almond bark with 1-2 tsp RB concentrate added in

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Crumble completely cooled cake into large bowl.
  2. Using hands or kitchen aid mixer with dough hook, mix 3/4 cup of cream cheese frosting thoroughly. (If too dry, add more frosting)
  3. Roll into balls of desired size (I used a melon baller) and lay them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. Place in freezer, 30 minutes to an hour, to get firm.
  5. In a double boiler, begin melting almond bark.
  6. Add 1-2 teaspoons (according to your taste) of the root beer concentrate to the melted chocolate. If it starts to get firm after adding concentrate, mix in a teaspoon at a time of vegetable oil until it reaches desired consistency.
  7. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)
  8. Pop’em in your mouth and enjoy!

Makes 30-40 balls depending on size

If you gave this recipe a try, I would love to hear about it in the comments. Share with friends and please remember to follow my blog for more recipes and updates.