Saturday, October 11, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookie time! I made this recipe with some homemade peanut butter. But other then that it is a very basic cookie dough and most people will have all the ingredients on hand.

I used a small cookie scoop so these cookies are all bite sized. I'm not sure why but I almost always make cookies that are small. But between the size and the sticky dough, the criss cross pattern was not meant to be. The recipe recommended rolling the cookies in granulated white sugar then doing the criss cross. If I did that, I would have reduced the white sugar in the cookies to 3/4 cup. But rolling the cookie in the sugar would have prevented the fork from sticking. Another thought that I think could have helped was if the cookies were larger and the fork was floured or buttered. 

Long story short, instead of making the fork prints - I gently pressed them flat with my fingers. That means I touched EVERY COOKIE! Touch it you take it, right?

Since I didn't want to wait 3 hours to chill the dough so I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes then popped it in the fridge for another 15 while I waited for the oven to free up. Yes, I would love to have double ovens in my kitchen!

What was interesting was the difference in the cookies with chilled batter vs not chilled batter. In this picture the top left is the 1st sheet from the fridge, top left is the 1st sheet without the criss-cross, bottom left is the 2nd round of cookies. Then I put the dough in the fridge between the 3rd and 4th cookie. Taste didn't change but the look certainly varied.

Regardless, these cookies didn't spread very much and I was able to fit 20 cookies on a regular sized cookie sheet.

The recipe said they would look kind of underdone when I take them off the sheet so I probably overcooked them, but we all thought they were great! I cooked them for 12 minutes.

The recipe below is adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction. The site says that the cookies will store at room temperature for up to one week and that the baked cookies or dough will freeze for up to 3 months.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 80 small cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and mix on high until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be thick, yet very sticky. Cover dough tightly and chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Press fork into the tops to create the criss-cross pattern. Bake for 12 minutes or until very lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look very soft and undone. The cookies will continue to "set" on the baking sheet during this time.

Dutch Oven Bread

I know bread is intimidating but this bread really was easy. I adapted it from The Lean Green Bean. It was very sticky dough so when you do take it out to knead make sure that your hands are well coated in flour. I let the dough rise next to the slow cooker while it was cooking this beef stew.

Oh my. This bread was so crusty and soft and chewy and just so easy. I will be making this recipe again. Ideas for future loaves include adding garlic, oregano, thyme, or rosemary to the dough.

When dealing with yeast I heat the water on the stove with a thermometer until it reaches 111F. Then I take it off the stove and pour it into a glass Pyrex. I figure 111F will be good because it may continue to get warmer in the pot and if the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. I add the yeast then and let is sit. You’ll know when it starts to activate as it will get a gloopy and start to have a scent.

It took about 10 minutes to get the dough combined then another 20 minutes of work with kneading it twice. There is about 5 hours worth of down time for errands, house cleaning, sports, and reading. Again, not a huge amount of time invested in this bread.

This is cooked the dough in this enamel cast iron casserole pan that has a cover. 
Dutch Oven Bread
Makes 6 large slices

1½ c warm water (110F-115F)
2¾ tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

Heat water to 110-115F. Add yeast and pinch of sugar, let sit for 5 minutes.
Add salt and flour and stir until a shaggy ball of dough is formed.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for 4 hours.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. With well floured hands, knead the dough 5-10 times.
Return dough to the bowl and let rise for another 30 minutes.
While dough is rising, place your dutch oven (uncovered) in the oven and preheat to 430F.
After 30 minutes, use floured hands to reshape dough into a ball and carefully drop into the dutch oven.
Cover and let bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover and let bake 10-15 minutes longer.
Remove loaf from dutch oven and let cool.

Beef Stew

Here is a yummy (and easy) slow cooker beef stew recipe! I found the recipe off All Recipes. I selected it based off the over 2000 reviews. Because this was a meal that included kids (and they will refuse to eat a meal based on seeing certain ingredients) I blitzed the onions and celery in the food processor so that there were no visuals. Keep the potatoes and the carrots in the larger chunk sizes so that way they aren't mush after cooking for so long.

I prepped and assembled the meal the night before and kept it in the fridge. I woke up on Saturday morning, plugged in the slow cooker, then we ran our errands and attended our sporting events. We came back to a delish and warm stew!

I also made a loaf this dutch oven bread.

My dad's tomato based beef stew recipe can be found here!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Serves 6-8

3 - 4 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 heaping tsp paprika
1 heaping tsp garlic powder
2 bay leaf
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp of gravy master
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 potatoes, large dice
4 carrots, sliced thick
2 cups beef broth
12 oz frozen peas

Put all the ingredients (minus broth and peas) in the slow cooker and stir together so everything is coated. Then add the beef broth and give another stir. Everything will be a soupy mess.
Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.
About 20 minutes before serving add the bag of frozen peas.