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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homemade Pretzel Rolls

These rolls have a crisp, flaky, chewy crust, with a soft interior, creating the perfect pretzel roll. It is kind of to die for. If you thought those store bought pretzel rolls were good, you are about to be in heaven. You can eat these plain or serve them up sandwich style with something like pulled pork. They are chewy, but still soft so they are perfect for either. I love biting into them and having the bottom roll crunch and flake like a pastry. And that course salt on top? It might be my very favorite part of pretzels. 

Start to Finish:
2 hours

Rise Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Yield: 1 dozen rolls


1 TB brown sugar
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2 TB butter
1 3/4 cups warm milk
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup baking soda
1 egg white, lightly beaten
course salt


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine brown sugar, yeast, salt and butter. Pour in warm milk and 4 cups of flour. Knead on a low speed until combined, increase speed to medium and then add more flour as necessary until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should still be tacky, but should be able to form its own dough ball. Cover and let rise 1 hour.

2. Divide the dough into 12 balls and shape into rolls. Let rest 15 minutes. 

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

4. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add in 1/2 cup baking soda. Working in batches of 2-3, use a slotted spoon to transfer the rolls into the boiling water. Boil 1 minute, flip, and boil 30 to 60 seconds more.  Use the slotted spoon to remove the rolls from the water and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Allow at least 1 inch of space between each roll.

5. Use a sharp knife to slice two parallel lines in the top of each roll. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with course salt. 

6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until a deep golden brown. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

15 Minute Mongolian Beef

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to teach a cooking class to a group of girls ages 12 and 13. They wanted to learn about cooking beef. Oh man, I could talk about beef for hours. I only got 1 hour though so I picked out 4 different kinds of beef that could teach different techniques. We made some meatballs out of ground beef, seared off some short ribs to learn about braising and stewing tough cuts, I taught them how to make a killer pan seared steak, and I used flank steak to talk about meat grain. The girls wanted to do an Asian twist on the flank steak and I showed them how easy it is to toss together a whole meal using flank steak. Those girls were blown away. They couldn't believe that in just a few minutes they were able to eat some finger-licking good beef. So today, I'm sharing with you a super quick beef dish that you can make in less than 10 minutes if you are quick, but I'm calling it 15 because in that time you can get rice cooked to go along side it. Toss in some veggies for a quick stir-fry if you want to make it a whole meal!

Time to Make It: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 4


1 lb. flank steak
3 TB soy sauce
2 TB hoisin sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 TB olive oil
sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)


1. Slice the flank steak against the grain into long strips. Put the strips into a medium-size mixing bowl.

2. Stir in soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, and red pepper flakes until meat is evenly coated.

3. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Add in the olive oil and sear the meat until desired level of doneness is reached (2 to 3 minutes for medium rare).

4. Top with green onions (optional). Serve hot over cooked rice or rice noodles. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Best Hot Fudge Sauce

I have tried a lot of different hot fudge sauce recipes. I've never been happy. They've either been runny, or tasted funny, or they crystallized. I am happy to say that I have finally created my own and it is everything I've ever looked for in hot fudge. It is better than the expensive jar you buy at the grocery store. It is thick, and fudgy, and gooey, and oh so delicious. It can be an ice cream topping, or a fudge layer in a pie, or drizzled over a cake. Or you can just eat it off the spoon. I like it that way too!

Time to Make It: About 15 minutes
Yield: 4 cups 

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla


1. In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, sugar, and evaporated milk. Stir to combine over low heat.

2. Bring to a boil (see cooking lesson below). Reduce heat to medium and continue simmering for 7 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

4. Blend the mixture for about 2 minutes using a blender or hand mixer.

The Post "Best Hot Fudge Sauce" first appeared on The Stay At Home Chef on November 23, 2012. 

Hot fudge sauce is considered low level candy making. Candy making is considered to be anything that has a main ingredient of sugar. It is a finicky thing and small missteps can be disastrous. Don't fret though, if you can follow instructions then you can make candy.

Doubling a candy recipe can be difficult as it effects the cooking time, pot size, and more. Substitutions are dangerous in candy making because each ingredient has a very specific purpose. This is cooking chemistry. Unless you are an experienced candy maker just stick to the recipe.

A common mistake in candy making is cooking the sugar too fast. When a candy recipe says "bring to a boil" you should warm it at low-medium heat until everything is melted, then turn the heat up to medium high until boiling begins. Reduce the heat to medium to sustain a simmering boil. If you just flip the heat up to high you risk burning or otherwise ruining your sugar.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gingersnap Frappe

My husband is a big sucker for gingersnaps. He has this super cool aunt who makes the best dang gingersnaps ever. She actually doesn't cook very much at all, but dang, that woman can bust out a gingersnap like nobody's business. Since we're on this huge frappe kick right now, I tossed out the idea of making a gingersnap frappe. I swear I saw the drool fall immediately. It took quite a few tries to perfect it, but we've finally found a winning combination. If you like gingersnaps, you are going to love this!

Time to Make It: <5 minutes
Yield: 1 serving


1/2 cup milk
1 TB Molasses
2 TB brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 ice cubes


1. In a high power blender, combine milk, molasses, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Blend on a low speed for just a few seconds until mixed.

2. Add in ice cubes and blend until smooth. 

3. (Optional) Serve topped with whipped cream.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Boston Cream Pie (Cake) From Scratch

 I grew up eating Boston Cream Pie practically every May for my dad's birthday. It is his favorite. You can always use the short-cut version of boxed yellow cake and instant pudding, but there's nothing quite like a Boston Cream made from scratch with spongey yellow cake, decadent pastry cream, all topped with a simple ganache. It is breathtaking. 

This cake takes time and love. I'm not going to lie. If you want breathtaking results, you've got to put in the time and effort. But let me tell you, it blows those grocery store boston creams out of the water. You can easily break up the tasks and make the cake separately from the pastry cream and ganache. Cake can be wrapped and stored in the fridge for several days and in the freezer for several months. It is worth every ounce of effort. 

This stuff is seriously delicious. My dad has already requested a visit for his birthday just so I can make this for him. 

Hands on Time: 1 hour
Start to Finish: at least 5 hours
Yield: 1 (2 layer) cake, serves 8 to 12


Yellow Cake
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup regular sour cream
1 cup butter, room temperature
368 grams (1 3/4 cups) granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large whole eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
255 grams (2 1/4 cups) cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup + 1/3 cup granulated sugar (divided)
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 TB butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream
8 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped


1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together milk and sour cream and let come to room temperature. 

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by greasing and lining the bottom only with parchment paper.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the butter until creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the sugar and beat for 4 more minutes.

4, Add in the vanilla, eggs, and egg yolk and mix until combined, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. 

5. In a separate mixing bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt. 

6. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add in 1/2 the milk and sour cream and mix. Add in another 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until combined, then the remainder of the milk and sour cream. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix until combined. Finally, add in the remainder of the flour mixture and scrap with a rubber spatula to ensure that all of the batter is smooth and combined. 

7. Pour batter into prepared baking pans, dividing evenly. 

8. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and tooth pick inserted into center comes out clean.

9. Let the pans cool for about 10 minutes before carefully removing them from the pan and flipping them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

10. Wrap cakes in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to assemble cake.

1. In a large sauce pan, stir together milk and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolks, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar. 

3. Once the milk has reached a simmer, work quickly and carefully pour half of the hot milk in a steady stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid curdling or cooking the eggs. Immediately pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Return to a medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture thickens.

4. Remove from heat once thickened and stir in butter and vanilla until melted. Pour into a clean mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap, letting the plastic wrap touch the top of the pastry cream to avoid the creation of any film on top. 

5. Cool completely in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.


1. When you are ready to assemble the cake and cake layers are cooled and pastry cream is cooled and set, make your ganache. In a small sauce pan, bring heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. 

2. Place your chopped chocolate into a small mixing bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let stand 1 to 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.


1. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet. The baking sheet will be used to catch any drips from your ganache.

2. Place a pre-cut cake circle onto the wire rack.(you can make your own using clean cardboard). Lay the bottom cake layer onto the cake circle. 

3. Spread pastry cream over cake to create a filling. 

4. Top with remaining cake layer. 

5. Carefully and slowly pour ganache over cake, letting drip down sides. 

6. Transfer cake to the refrigerator and let cool until set, about 1 hour. 

7. Transfer to a cake stand or platter. Store in fridge. 

***Yellow Cake Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Best Homemade Nutella Recipe + Video Recipe

I may have a deep and abiding love for nutella. Ironically, as I right this I'm sitting here with a jar and eating it by the spoonful. People are always sending me pins for nutella recipes. I love it. But I'm also in love with making things from scratch, with love. I like real food, and nutella is processed and manufactured. When I got my Blendtec I knew it was time I start making my own. I had no more excuses. I sought out to replicate the creamy spread using the best ingredients I could. 

So I went to buy hazelnuts from the bulk section of my grocery store and I found what I could have sworn were hazelnuts, but were labeled filberts. I'd never heard of filberts so I went home empty handed, still swearing they looked exactly like hazelnuts. I looked it up and discovered that filberts were another name for hazelnuts. When I went back to the store I saw that the label included hazelnuts in small print and parenthesis. Boy did I feel dumb. 

The original ingredients listed on a jar of nutella are sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin: an artificial flavor. I'm not going to mass produce and sell it so I nixed the emulsifier. Since I'm making it from scratch and fresh I also decided to up the game and use heavy cream instead of milk, and real milk chocolate instead of cocoa. Guys, this stuff is good. It is quality, luxurious, and decadent. Is it the same? No,  the texture it is a bit different as it doesn't have that really smooth and oily feel. You can add palm oil, but I kind of like it without. Nevertheless, I know my nutella and the taste is spot on. 

Time to Make It: 10 minutes
Yield: about 2 cups


1 cup heavy cream 
1/4 cup sugar 
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 pound (8 oz) milk chocolate, roughly chopped
2 cups hazelnuts 
2 TB palm oil (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

2. Spread hazelnuts out on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and put in a plastic bag. Shake to remove skins. Pick out the skinned hazelnuts and discard the skins. 

3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, heat heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once it reaches a simmer, remove from heat pour over the chocolate in a medium-size mixing bowl.

2. In a high powdered blender (like Blendtec) or a heavy duty food processor, process hazelnuts with palm oil (optional) until it reaches a smooth consistency. 

3. Combine the chocolate mixture with the hazelnut butter in the blender or processor. Blend until smooth. 

4. Store in an airtight container (like a canning jar) in the refrigerator. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Perfect Peach Pie

I've been chomping at the bit to make a pie this summer. I read an interesting technique for pie crusts from America's Test Kitchen about using vodka in the crust. Apparently the vodka prevents the gluten from getting all tough as you roll (and sometimes re-roll) your dough. That is exactly the kind of pie crust recipe I need in my life. I'm always having to re-roll for one reason or another which makes me hate pie making. I finally got the chance to show off my perfect peach pie at a potluck a couple of weeks ago and it was a smashing success. It was so perfectly not perfect, I drooled and posted it to instagram. I've had way too many requests for the recipe so I'm finally getting around to posting it. Thank you America's Test Kitchen for helping me perfect my pie skills!

Start to Finish: 3 hours
Yield: 1 pie


Double Crust
2 1/2 cups (12.5oz) all purpose-flour
2 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
12 TB cold butter, sliced
8 TB vegetable shortening, chilled and sliced
1/4 cup ice water
1/4 cup vodka, chilled

3 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced (1/4-inch)
1 cup sugar
1 TB cornstarch
1 TB lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 TB sugar


1. Make the dough in a food processor by combining half of the flour, sugar, and salt together and pulsing until combined. Add in the butter and shortening pieces and process for about 15 to 20 seconds until combined. Add in the remaining half of the flour and pulse until all the flour is incorporated. Sprinkle in cold water and vodka and pulse 5 or 6 times until combined into a dough. Divide into two even pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour.

2. In a large mixing bowl, toss together peaches and 1 cup sugar. Let sit 1 hour. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the juices and set aside. Drain the rest of the excess liquid from the peaches using a colander. Return the peaches to the mixing bowl , add in reserved juices, and toss with cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. 

3. Roll out your bottom crust into a 12-inch circle. Make sure you use a well floured surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking. Roll the circular dough loosely around the rolling pin to transfer to a 9-inch pie dish (deep dish). Be gentle and press it carefully into the plate letting the edges hang over. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Prepare your lattice crust by rolling the remaining dough half into a 13 by 10 inch rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut into 8 even strips. Freeze on the baking sheet while oven preheats.

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

6. Place the prepared pie plate on a baking sheet (in case of spillage). Scoop the peach filling into the pie shell. Lay 4 of the lattice strips on top of the peaches, giving even spacing between. Weave the remaining lattice pieces perpendicular, lifting every other piece to create a lattice. Trim the excess dough that is hanging around the pie plate with kitchen scissors or a sharp knife. Pinch the lattice and crust edges together and then crimp the dough evenly around the pie using your fingers. 

7. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with 1 TB sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and cook 30 to 35 minutes more until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling and set. Transfer pie dish to a wire rack to cool.

Why the lattice top?
It isn't just pretty people. It's functional. Peaches have A LOT of liquid in them. The lattice top allows for evaporation to occur so those liquids aren't just trapped inside your pie. It requires some extra steps, but it is vital for a perfectly peachy pie.