Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bread Bowls

Recently a friend of mine and I had lunch at La Bou. I really like this place. I wish there was one closer to me. Their dill sauce is simply amazing. More on that when I figure out how to make it for myself!
She had a salad and I had a bread bowl filled with this tasty spicy thai chicken soup.
I had never had a bread bowl before, and after having this one I KNEW I had to make them at home. They are too delicious and fun NOT to make at home.
My husband was going to make his delicious chili, and what a perfect excuse reason to make bread bowls!
I first searched my cookbooks for bread bowl recipes. I know there has got to be some basic bread recipe out there that you can form into this round loaf, but not being that experienced in bread making, I wanted to make sure I found a recipe that was suited for bread bowls. Hard on the outside and soft in the center.
The bread itself doesn't have a ton of flavor, but that's what the soup (or chili!) is for. If you want to add flavor to the bread, go for it. Try some dried spices.
I divided the dough into 6 portions (per lots of the reviews) and they were the perfect size for a dinner serving of chili. Divide into 8 if you want them a bit smaller.

Bread Bowls (makes 6 bowls)
(adapted this recipe from

2 (.25oz) packages active dry yeast (4 1/2tsp total)
2 1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp. salt
1 tbl. sugar
2 tbl. olive oil
7 c. all purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the water. Let sit until nice and creamy looking (about 10 min). Add the salt, sugar, oil and 4 cups of the flour and mix with the paddle attachment until everything is thoroughly combined. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scrape down the bowl as necessary.
Switch out the paddle attachment for a dough hook and knead until the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, move it around to cover with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel or a piece of plastic and set in the oven along with a large cup of hot water (to provide steam). Let rise for 40 minutes, or until doubled.
Punch dough down and divide into 6 even portions. Lightly grease two cookie sheets and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Roll the dough pieces into balls and set them apart on the cookie sheets. Cover again with towels and back into the oven. Reheat the cup of water if it's not hot anymore. Let rise 35 minutes or so, or until they have risen to about twice their original size.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-35 minutes or until they have turned a lovely golden. Allow the bread to cool on a baking rack. Slice off the top 1/2inch of the bread, or cut an upside down cone out of the top. Pull out all of the insides but about an inch of shell. Fill with your soup or chili. Enjoy!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cake Batter Ice Cream

I know, I know. It's cold outside. But big time ice cream lovers will eat this stuff rain or shine!
On a trip to Wisconsin in September for a wedding, Hubby and I stopped at a cute little cafe and tried their cake batter ice cream. It was delicious!
Let me explain. Who doesn't like licking the bowl clean when making cake? I know that some people frown on it because there is raw egg in the batter.
So here is the perfect solution. The egg used in this recipe is all cooked. And yet, when served, it has the same creaminess that cake batter does, and the SAME taste. It's great. I think next time I'm going to try a chocolate version. Or maybe just mix cookie crumbs in it.
Did I mention that a certain vanilla wafer compliments this ice cream wonderfully? Try it out! This would be a fun twist for a child's birthday. Top with some sprinkles and a birthday candle and ta-da!

Cake Batter Ice Cream
(recipe from

1 c. milk (I used low fat and none could be the wiser!)
1/2 c. granulated white sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. yellow or french vanilla cake mix

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan until everything is well blended. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F, keep whisking to make sure nothing on the bottom burns. The mixture will be nice and thick when it reaches the right temperature. Remove ice cream base from the heat and refrigerate until it's well chilled. Make sure to press a piece of plastic onto the surface of the base to prevent a skin from forming.
Once chilled, pour the ice cream base into your ice cream machine per the directions of the manufacturer. Stick in a freezer safe container and freeze for a couple of hours to firm up.
Note: This ice cream freezes up firm, so take out of the freezer 10-15 minutes before youy plan to serve it.

I linked this recipe up at:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Apple Chips

Tis the season for apples! So many varieties appear at the grocery store. Tourist spots like Apple Hill get a mad rush of people that loves apples (or so I hear).
Hubby's parents dropped off a couple paper grocery sacks of apples from their yard. Wanting to preserve them, I stumbled upon this recipe by Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli.
Yes, we do have a food dehydrator. I had no problem drying these out in the oven since it only gets up to 200 degrees F. Plus, I don't much care for cleaning the dehydrator's racks.
These apple chips were really easy to make. The hardest part is waiting for them to soak in the sugar water then wait for the oven to cool off and them to be ready. Good flavor, and good color all remains. I'm not sure how it would be with less sugar, but with apples on sale, it couldn't hurt to try!

Apple Chips
(recipe by Alex Guarnaschelli)

2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 or 3 lemons
2 small- medium apples washed and tried(I used one small and one medium, filled my cookie sheets perfectly)

In a small pot, bring the water and sugar to a slow boil, stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Core the apples and then slice them thinly with a mandoline. Leave those skins on! It adds a nice pop of color to the finished chip.
As you slice the apples, dribble some lemon juice over them to keep from browning (oxidizing). Once they are all sliced and the sugar syrup has cooled off, pour the syrup into a baking dish (I used one a little smaller than my 9x13in. Place the apples in gently, make sure they are covered by the sugar syrup. They will have to overlap, that's fine, just make sure there is syrup between the pieces.
Let them sit for a few hours- or overnight.
The next morning, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Very lightly dry the apple slices on a paper towel then lay them out in one layer- not touching. Bake for 1 hour, or until crispy. Turn off the oven and leave the apple chips in there until everything has cooled off. This will ensure they have dried out.
Store in an airtight container, or just eat them! Enjoy!

This wonderful recipe is linked up at:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Best Tortellini Soup

I like to decide what is going to be for dinner as early into the day as possible. There is just something about being organized and prepared that I enjoy so much. There is also the fact that it takes some time to defrost whatever protien we will be chowing on.
So one morning I get a text from Hubby requesting tortellini soup. Not only that, but he already had a recipe in mind that was tried and true (from a friend at work). With the weather cooling off, soup sounds great. Not only that, but I haven't ever made this kind before and it looks great!
I did some internet searching for similar recipes, but honestly, none of them sounded as good as this one. And it sure was yummy. I forgot to take pictures because we dug right into the stuff. :)

Tortellini Soup
(modified by Stacia)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds bulk Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
2 big carrots, half inch slice
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 16oz package tortellini (mine were roasted chicken, but whatever flavor you want will be fine)
salt & pepper

In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the sausage and onion over medium to medium high heat until the onion has softened and the sausage is cooked through. Drain off as much fat as you can (or want).
Add the broth, water, italian seasoning and carrots. Bring everything to a slow boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and uncooked tortellini (mine were frozen at this point). Cook until the tortellini have cooked through. Season with salt and pepper as desired and serve up (garnished with parmesan if you're into that kind of thing)

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