Saturday, August 22, 2009

Homemade Marshmallows

It seems everywhere I look, food bloggers have made homemade marshmallows. And in reading their posts, these homemade marshmallows sound absolutely delightful. The photographs of these marshmallows look spectacular, like fluffy clouds of awesomeness. I just had to make homemade marshmallows. They actually were surprisingly easy to make, boil the sugar and the corn syrup, whip with the gelatin until fluffy. Yes, they were sticky, but candy making always is

My sister is getting married and in the spirit of looking for a pretty dessert for the dessert tray, I decided to cut them into heart shapes and dip half into chocolate. They turned out so cute. I took them to her, quite excited about my newest creation. She told me they were beautiful and took a great big bite. "Oh Heather, these would be perfect if they didn't taste so much like Peeps." She was right. My homemade marshmallows taste like Peeps. Or at best, store bought marshmallows. But nothing like the greatness I was hoping for. The recipe I made called for a vanilla bean, however, I did not have any vanilla beans and consequently used vanilla extract. That may have been my downfall. I would like to try and make them again, maybe with a different flavor, maybe with a real vanilla bean.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sour Cream and Onion Potato Bread

I love using mashed potatoes in my white bread. I don't know exactly what it does for my bread, but it just tastes amazing. I find it a fantastic way to use up that last little bit of mashed potatoes from Sunday dinner. Typically, I make a sweet potato bread, that is perfect with a little butter in the morning for breakfast, but when I found this recipe on The Knead for Bread, I knew I had to give it a shot. If bread with potatoes in it is good, then an addition of sour cream and chives must be better.

You can find the original recipe here. I tweaked the recipe a bit based on what I had in the kitchen that afternoon. What you get is a soft, fluffy bread that is great on its own but makes a fantastic sandwich bread. Its got just enough onion to give it flavor, yet not enough to be overpowering.

Sour Cream and Onion Potato Bread
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (I used instant because I was out of regular potatoes. If using regular potatoes, you may want to add butter and milk when mashing them for flavor.)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp salt (I used garlic salt because a little garlic flavor is always a good thing)
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
4-5 cups bread flour

Make up instant mashed potatoes according to directions. Add sour cream, egg, yeast, and green onions. Mix in 2 cups of the flour and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Add the salt. Gradually mix in the rest of the flour. Allow the dough to dictate how much flour is needed. The dough should be tacky but not sticky. Knead until the dough passes the windowpane test. Cover and allow to raise until double (about one hour).

Turn out onto floured breadboard and shape dough as desired. I made one regular sized loaf and two mini loaves. I would imagine these would make fantastic rolls as well. Allow to rise again for approximately one hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until done. My tiny loaves actually only took about 20 minutes to bake.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BBA Challenge: Challah

The next bread for the BBA challenge was casatiello, which I made, but was devoured before I could take any pictures or post about it. Hopefully I will make it again and remember to photograph it so that I can post about it.

At any rate, the next bread that I made from the BBA challenge was Challah. Challah is an egg rich Jewish celebration bread. I have made Challah in the past, but nothing prepared me for the deliciousness of this recipie. The dough was easy to put together and hand kneading it was a dream. It wasn't sticky, but soft and tender to work with. Braiding this dough was a dream and the finished loaf pulled apart in fluffy chunks.

My husband finished the loaf by making challah French toast. I did not get any, but I hear it was amazing too. The eggs in the bread really added to the taste of the French toast. I would make this recipe again in a heartbeat.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

When friends give you zucchini, make zucchini bread

I am one of those special people that has a total black thumb. Growing up and living in rural Illinois, I have a good many friends and relatives who are farmers. People who grow things for a living. They cannot figure out my total lack of ability to grow things. (It likely stems from lack of watering my plants regularly, but hey). At any rate, I cannot grow zucchini. So I am one of those people who quietly buys her zucchini from the grocery store or farmer's market. That is, until one of those previously mentioned farmer friends get wind of my purchasing zucchini and bring me a huge grocery bag full.

For my zucchini bread recipe, I turned to my trusty family cookbook. My mother and grandmother were both prolific zucchini growers and had a ton of recipes for zucchini bread. I decided to adapt one of the recipes to try an make a lower fat version and was met with success. I changed the sugar to honey (and in some cases Splenda) and I replaced the cup of oil with applesauce or yogurt. I also experimented with taking out the some of the eggs and replacing them with egg whites.

Zucchini Pineapple Bread
2 cups sugar (or Splenda or honey)
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup vegetable oil (or plain yogurt or applesauce)
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
3 eggs (or 1 egg and two egg whites)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour ( you can use 3 cups all purpose flour if you do not have whole wheat flour)

Mix ingredients together and pour into two loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees until done (about 50-60 minutes)

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