Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pizza Factory Breadsticks

UN. BE. LIEV. A. BLE. These truly are the most DELICIOUS breadsticks I have ever had--they're even BETTER than Pizza Factory's! And the are SOOOOO easy!! Get ready to change your life: (yields about 25)

{What you need}
4.5 cups hot water
3 tablespoon sugar
1.5 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons SAF instant yeast
10.5-12 cups flour (I find great success with about 11 cups)

1 1/2 cube butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.

Combine (in a Bosch mixer or something like it) water, sugar, salt, yeast, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 3-4 minutes. On greased countertop, break of pieces of dough ( a little bigger than a golf ball when rolled into a ball) and roll into thin ropes. If you're using skewers like at Pizza Factory, roll the ropes about 1 1/2 times the length of your skewers. Twist the rope around the skewer. I didn't use skewers. Instead I twisted two ropes together and pinched the ends so they stayed. Place on a greased cookie sheet and let rise for about 30 minutes, or until the breadsticks double in size. Repeat till all dough is used.

While they are baking, combine glaze ingredients so the flavors will blend. Bake twists at 375 for about 12 minutes if you're using skewers, and 14 minutes if you are not, and are using the twisting method. Remove from oven and brush with the butter glaze. (Don't glaze before you bake, it's not as good.) I sprinkled fresh parmesan cheese on top, too, and let that melt before I served them. Or you can add add canned parmesan cheese to the glaze, which adds even more flavor. Best if served immediately, but amazing at any time!!!

Tres Leches

In honor of Cinco de Mayo I made this yummy Latin American dessert for a family get-together we had. It's great for summer parties. Tres Leches is a a soggy cake, so for those of you "texture sensitive" peeps, this is not for you. But for the rest of us, Feliz Cinco de Mayo!!

{What you need}
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

{Milk syrup}
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter a 13x9 inch baking dish.

Cake: Beat 3/4 cup sugar and the EGG YOLKS until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder. Beat the EGG WHITES to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and firm, but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the buttered baking dish. Bake the cake until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in the dish. Pierce the cake all over with a fork, taking care to not tear it up.

Syrup: Mix all syrup ingredients together until well blended. Pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top. Cover and let sit in fridge for 1-2 hours until the syrup is all absorbed.

Garnish with fresh strawberries, mangos, blueberries, etc., with either ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Easy Country Rice

So easy. So good.

{What you need}
3-5 cups cooked rice
1 can (10.5 oz) Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup sour cream
6 oz. cream cheese

Mix all wet ingredients together until smooth. Fold in hot rice. Serves great with any chicken dish or by itself. I like to mix in cooked shredded chicken.

Summer Berry Salad

This salad is inspired by the classic strawberry-poppy seed dressing salad. I added some other things to give it a unique flavor, and it's just gorgeous.

{What you need}
1 medium bag of spinach
10-15 strawberries, sliced
1 cup blackberries
2 ripe avocados, sliced
3/4 cup candied walnuts
(store-bought they are called glazed walnuts, or try the recipe below)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
(also great with crumbled bleu cheese instead)
poppy seed dressing
(try Brianna's Homestyle brand, or the recipe below)

In a large serving bowl empty bag of spinach. Next add the cheese. Next add the strawberries, then the avocados. Next add the blackberries, followed by the candied walnuts. Toss immediately before you serve, add dressing to taste. Great for the summer!

{Poppy seed Dressing}
(compliments of Favorites)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbs poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp minced onion
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

{Candied Walnuts}
(compliments of Simply Recipes)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, chopped, halved, or whole
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350. Use middle rack in oven. Lay walnuts out on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5 minutes. If not quite done, toast for 1 or 2 more minutes. Do not burn! Remove from oven and let cool in pan on a rack.
Pour sugar into a medium saucepan with a thick bottom. Have walnuts nearby, ready to quickly add to the pan at the right time. Cook sugar on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon as soon as the sugar begins to melt. Keep stirring until all the sugar has melted and the color is a medium amber. As soon as sugar is melted and the color is right, add the walnuts to the pan, quickly stirring and coating each piece with the sugar mixture. It's important to work as quickly as possible. As soon as the walnuts are coated with the sugar mixture, spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Use two forks to separate the walnuts from each other, working very quickly. Sprinkle the nuts with salt. Let cool completely. Break apart.

Chinese Haystacks/Chinese Sundaes

This is not just any haystack recipe. This is a GOURMET haystack recipe. You could easily use this to entertain at a nicer shindig. Or you could use it at a less-formal one. It works both ways and will be a hit no matter where you serve it. The sweet and sour sauce makes all the difference.

{What you need}
6 cups cubed chicken
1 1/2 family sized cans (26 oz. each) Cream of Chicken Soup
1 pint sour cream

{Sweet and Sour sauce}
1 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbs cornstarch

{Topping ideas}
chow mein noodles
mandarin oranges
cheddar cheese
honeyed almonds (from salad section)
green onions
diced tomatoes
shredded coconut

For the chicken I use Costco frozen chicken tenders. Cut them into cubes and simmer/boil until barely cooked. Combine soup and sour cream in a large sauce pan. Add chicken cubes and heat until bubbly. For the sweet and sour sauce, stir everything together with a whisk until there are no lumps. Bring to a boil and simmer 8-10 minutes until the vinegar isn't too strong smelling. The key is to cook out most of the vinegar smell, otherwise it won't be as tasty. Serve it with the toppings buffet style. Kids love it, dads love it--everyone loves it. Enjoy!

(Compliments of Carrie England)
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