Cup Cones for Carter's Birthday!

I've been wanting to try making "cup cones" for a while now.  I just never had a good reason to make them.  Well, lucky for me my friend Amy's son requested a cake and cupcakes for his birthday.  I asked Amy if it would be OK if I made cup cones instead of cupcakes and lucky for me she said sure!

So how do you bake a cupcake in an ice cream cone?  Turns out it's pretty easy!  I found these directions in my Baking Sheet publication from King Arthur Flour.

You start with a cupcake pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and slice some holes in it.

Place the ice cream cones in each of the holes.  This holds the cones in place while the cupcakes bake.

Next fill the cones with batter.  The instructions said to use 2 ounces of batter but I think they must have had bigger cones than I did so I used slightly less than that.

Don't they look great right out of the oven?

Carter wanted blue with white sprinkles so that's what he'll get.

Now... how do I transport them?!  I'm thinking I'll head out and find a disposable cupcake pan, cover it and transport them that way!  Wish me luck!

A new toy, a new recipe, and hot dogs!

I saw the pan.  I thought it was pretty cool.  But who really needs a pan that only makes hot dog buns?  Probably the same person who needed a $35 garlic press.  Yes, that would be me.

So I ordered it and it arrived this week.  Now all I needed was a recipe for hot dog buns.  Thanks to King Arthur Flour I found one!

The recipe itself is pretty easy, water, sugar, yeast, salt and flour, and of course, time.  Here's a LINK to the recipe.

The dough mixed up very easily and even kneading wasn't too much work.  Once I had a nice, elastic dough it was time to let it rise for an hour.

Next, form the dough in to 18 buns.  My fancy dancy hot dog pan made 10 buns so I had enough dough over for eight hamburger buns too.

After another 45 minute rise, an egg wash is added.  I like sesame seeds on my hamburger buns so I added some!

Twenty minutes later, out of the oven come these absolutely beautiful buns!  Why would you buy buns when these are so easy?  Yes, you need to be home for a few  hours but there really wasn't much work involved.  Also, it cost me less than $2 to make 10 hot dog buns and 8 hamburger buns!

Well we had to try them didn't we?  We'd just had hamburgers so hot dogs it was!  I'm not a big fan of hot dogs.  Dave is and the dogs are.  We hide their pills in hot dogs!  But every once in a while, in the summer, a hot dog off the grill hits the spot.  It was 91 degrees in the Twin Cities today.  Today was a hot dog day!

I couldn't just put any hot dog into homemade buns now could I?  These buns deserved grass fed hot dogs from Applegate Farms.  We tried two varieties, the Ballpark Style Hot Dogs and the Chicken Hot Dogs. 

I'll admit it, I didn't think I was going to like the chicken hot dogs.  But with only 60 calories I had to try them.  I've tried chicken and other "diet" hot dogs before and none of them had any flavor let alone texture.  And, to be honest, I'm not really sure what makes a "ballpark" either.  What I do know now is that both of these were really good hot dogs!

The grass fed beef ballpark hot dogs were even better!  Like the chicken hot dogs they were well spiced and had a great beef flavor.  They were both definitely worthy of my homemade buns!

I found fresh tomatoes at Farmer's Market this morning so we had to have a caprese salad with the hot dogs.  I used my new favorite olive oil and balsamic on the salad.

Paired with this delicious dinner was a Cuvaison Mt. Veeder Cabernet.  YUM!

We couldn't skip dessert tonight so I made another version of the Noble Pig puff pastry tarts.  I picked up some rhubarb and fresh strawberries at Farmer's Market this morning too and they made absolutely yummy tarts! 

Irish Stew with Butternut Woods Farms Beef & Guinness

Stew?  In June?  Shouldn't I be craving burgers or brats on the grill?  It's not cold or rainy, which usually gets me wanting something hearty.  I don't know why but I really wanted a good hearty stew today so I made one!

I consulted my go-to source for recipes when I need one "like now" and don't have one already picked out or a favorite I want to make, Cook's Illustrated.  I found an Irish stew recipe that sounded like it would be good (it had potatoes and carrots in it, not just meat) and as an added bonus I had all the ingredients in the house.

The star of this stew was, of course, the beef, two pounds of grass-fed Highland beef from Butternut Woods Farm.

In addition to the beef the stew had carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onions and was seasoned with garlic, thyme and bay leaves and included an entire can of Guinness beer.

The beef is patted dried and seasoned with salt and pepper.  As we all know from Julie Child, drying the beef helps it brown in the pan!

Once the beef is browned it's removed from the pan, a little more oil is added and the onions are cooked until they are tender.  I love the smell of sauteing onions, onions sauteing in beef drippings, well, I could have eaten them with a spoon!

In goes the garlic, tomato paste and flour which are cooked until thick.  There are lots of little delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pan at this point.  Chicken stock and that can of Guinness are used to deglaze!

The beef is then added back to the pan with the herbs, thyme and bay leaves, and a little brown sugar.  Once this is simmering, it is covered and placed in the oven for an hour.  The kitchen already was smelling amazing!

After an hour the stew looks like this.  See all that yummy fat?  I knew this stew was going to taste so good!

The potatoes, carrots and parsnips are added and the stew goes back in the oven for another hour.

What comes out is this thick, delicious stew!  When Dave walked in the house the first words out of his mouth were "something smells really good."

I served it with bread I made earlier in the day in my crock pot.  Yes, I baked bread in my crock pot!  Don't believe me?  Check it out HERE.

I think I mentioned the stew was delicious, it was.  The potatoes, carrots and parsnips were tender and juicy and the beef melted in your mouth.  It didn't taste like a can of Guinness (which was good because I don't like Guinness) but the broth had a richness that had to come from the beer.  The herbs came through even with everything else going on in the dish.  Dave and I decided that a stew this good required one of our favorite wines, Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel.

Can you really bake bread in a crock pot?

Really?  Bake bread in a crock pot?  I didn't believe it so I had to try it.  I saw the idea on a Pinterest post by Red Star Yeast.  Their post linked back to the website for Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  I have three books from the owners of this website, Zoe Francios and Jeff Hertzberg and I use them all the time.  There is dough for either bread or pizza in my refrigerator almost all the time!

Here's a LINK to the Artisan Bread in 5's post on bread in the crock pot.  Any of their recipes should work just fine.

So why would you want to bake bread in a crock pot?  Honestly, I can't really thing of a good reason.  Ok, maybe it's 100 degrees outside and you don't want to heat your oven to 450 degrees.  But then I'd throw the dough in my cast iron pot and throw it on the grill.  Maybe you don't have a grill?

I guess it didn't really matter to me why you would want to bake bread in a crock pot, I just wanted to prove you could do it!  Sort of like that climbing a mountain thing for some folks.

I mixed up some dough yesterday so that this morning I could throw it in the crock pot and see if this really did work.

Start by placing your boule on parchment paper then drop it in the crock pot.  Turn the crock pot on high and let it go.  According to Zoe, it should take about 45 minutes, longer for whole wheat breads.  I had made a whole wheat loaf and it took about double that amount of time!

After about 45 minutes you can see it had begun to rise in the crock pot.

To test for doneness Zoe says to touch the top of the loaf and if it's "squishy" it still isn't done.  I kept poking the dough then decided I'd just use a thermometer.  When a loaf is at about 205 degrees Fahrenheit it's done.

Now the loaf didn't get as brown I would like so I did throw it under the broiler for literally a minute to brown it up.

Then the long wait for the bread to cool so I could cut into it and see if this really worked.

Guess what!  It worked!  And I found a reason why you would want to bake your bread this way.  The crust comes out very soft.  Zoe likens it to a steamed roll.  If you prefer soft crust to your bread, this is the way to go!

Saturday Dinner by Farmer's Market

I love Saturdays.  Yes, because I don't have to get up and go to work.  And yes because I get to sleep in, if only just a little.  But this time of year I love Saturdays because of Farmer's Market.  I can't wait to see what's new each week.

Dave was up and out early (5:30AM) this morning for military duty.  The dogs decided that I should get up too.  No sense going back to sleep, right?  I fought them off until almost 6 and raised the white flag.  At least I wouldn't have to fight for a parking spot at Farmer's market.

I needed the usual things, eggs, potatoes and veggies (asparagus today) and I picked up some chicken from Otis Family Farm while I was there.  In addition, I found two very nice surprises.

The first was farm raised rainbow trout.  Dave really likes trout.  Any time it is the special at the Officer's Club that's what he has.  Todd Thomas from Brook Park Fish Farm had already marinated the fish in olive oil, basil and roasted garlic.  He told me I wouldn't be disappointed!  So now I knew what we were having for dinner.

The other very nice surprise was strawberries!  I couldn't believe there were strawberries already!  They smelled so good.  Yes, you could actually smell them, unlike the strawberry shaped things you can get in the grocery store.  I had to have some and I knew exactly what I was going to do with them!

But no dessert before dinner so let's start with dinner.

First the fish.  I simply seared the top of it in a hot pan with some olive oil then threw it in the oven to finish.

While the fish was cooking I started the potatoes.  Potatoes I bought at Farmer's Market of course.  I've been craving sage so I decided I would make range roasted potatoes with sage.  I boiled the potatoes in my big frying pan until they were creamy, evaporated off the rest of the water, added some olive oil and the star of this dish, fresh sage out of my herb garden!

Finally I sauteed up some fresh asparagus, also from Farmer's Market in some basil infused olive oil and voila, dinner!

Everything was delicious.  I'm still not a huge fan of trout.  Don't get me wrong, it was very good.  It almost tasted like salmon!  Maybe that's because it looked so much like salmon?  In any case the fish was good but the potatoes were the best!  I'm not sure what I did differently tonight.  I've made potatoes that way many, many times before but they were so creamy inside and perfectly crunchy outside and there is almost nothing better than crispy sage!  And how can you go wrong with fresh asparagus?

How do you top that dinner?  Well, turns out that was pretty easy tonight!  I've mentioned the Noble Pig blog before.  If you haven't checked it out I highly encourage you to do so.  It's been remodeled and is beautiful and very easy to navigate and there are some fabulous recipes!

I've had the "Individual Puff Pastry Apple Tarts with Almond and Cinnamon" on my list of things to try for a while now.  When I saw the strawberries this morning I knew this was the way I was going to use them.  These little tarts were so simple to put together and would be good with any fruit filling.  You just cut puff pastry sheets into squares, add almond paste, a little sour cream, fruit and bake.  How easy is that?

I made mine pretty by using my pastry cutter.  They are pretty, don't you think?  Instead of the cinnamon sugar apples I just macerated those yummy strawberries in a little vanilla sugar then placed them in the tarts.

They bake for about 20 minutes.  Served with a little vanilla ice cream they were the perfect end to our Farmer's Market dinner!

Homemade Pita Bread

Jalapenos have come in at Farmer's Market which has me thinking of all recipes jalapeno.  I'll probably can some too, but that will ...

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