Peanut butter is the icing on the cake

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One of my coworkers had a birthday last week, which means I did some baking. This coworker requested chocolate cupcakes, so I knew I’d turn to the Joy of Cooking for the cupcake recipe. But the frosting was where I wanted to have some fun.

My mom always made buttercream frosting for cupcakes, but I’ve always found most frosting to be too sweet for my taste. I remembered this coworker being fond of peanut butter, so I looked around for a recipe online for peanut butter frosting and came across this one.

The original recipe called for creamy peanut butter, but I only ever buy crunchy, so I used that. The frosting held up well and complemented the cupcakes nicely. It’s definitely a nice alternative to the more common options.

Ingredients
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Layered egg casserole for a lazy Sunday

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Happy Easter. When I was growing up, days like this were spent as lazy days with the family, eating a couple hard-boiled eggs and toast before diving into the Easter candy. I still like to have an easy breakfast on Easter. This year, I decided to put together a make-ahead egg casserole. It was surprisingly simple, though I’d use smaller dishes next time so the portions are smaller.

I have a set of baking dishes that were branded as ramekins, but are actually quite huge. I used two of those for this recipe, but you can use a muffin tin and divide the layers accordingly. This would likely make four or five muffin-size casseroles.

Ingredients
1 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage, crumbled
1 head of broccoli, chopped
8 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
Beecher’s Smoked Flagship Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray ramekins with cooking spray, or grease with butter.

Put 1/4 of the crumbled sausage at the bottom of each ramekin. Put half of the broccoli on top of the sausage. Pour half of the eggs in each ramekin. Top with the remainder of the sausage. Bake for 30 minutes, or until eggs are cooked.

Once the casseroles are done, use a knife to separate the casseroles from the sides of the ramekins. Overturn onto a plate and grate some cheese on top. Serve warm.

Salmon makes a summery sandwich

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I haven’t done much cooking lately. I’ve been looking through my new cookbooks—Curtis Stone’s “Good Food, Good Life” and the Smitten Kitchen cookbook—and have been dining out a lot because it’s Dine Around Seattle month, and when I’m home I’ve been eating a lot of tacos and other homemade concoctions that I haven’t felt were exciting enough to share.

Yesterday I found myself with a couple hours at home, so I wanted to cook so I’d have something to blog about. Especially since I failed to post something last week. I pulled my Barefoot Contessa “Foolproof” cookbook off the shelf and found a recipe for a Salmon and Guacamole sandwich. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to put this together with a bit of improvisation. The original makes four sandwiches, but the one below makes one.

Ciabatta has been on my list of recipes to try for quite a while now. In lieu of having made any, I decided to just use some multigrain bread I had on hand. But I did get some ciabatta started. Hopefully I’ll have that to share next week.

Since I’m not a big fan of guacamole, I didn’t put all the usual stuff in it. I really like the flavor of fresh avocados on their own, and I’ve always felt the pepper and other additions just detract from that. For this recipe, I kept it simple.

Ingredients
2-3 slices of uncured turkey bacon, baked until crisp
1 4-ounce salmon filet, baked
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 avocado
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon La Victoria jalapeño sauce
Pinch of salt
4 leaves of fresh spinach
2 slices of multigrain bread, or a ciabatta roll

If you haven’t baked the bacon or the salmon, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the bacon on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place salmon in a baking dish and squeeze lemon juice on it. Once the timer goes off, place the salmon in the oven with the bacon and bake for 15 more minutes, or until salmon is cooked all the way through and the bacon is crisp.

Scoop the avocado into a small bowl and mash with a spoon. Add green onion, jalapeño sauce, and salt and stir until combined. Spread mixture onto one slice of bread. Place the salmon on top. Add bacon and spinach and top with other slice. Serve.

“So.Da.Licious” scones made with a bit of luck

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Irish food was the theme for this month’s team potluck. Even though I’m one-quarter Irish, I didn’t know what to bake. I don’t have any family recipes that have been handed down for generations. So I did what I normally do when I’m trying to get an idea of what to make: I turned to Google. The problem was that the results were mostly for trifles, or were just desserts with whiskey in them. As much as I like whiskey, adding it to a recipe doesn’t make food Irish by default. When an acquaintance suggested I make soda bread, but dress it up so it was more like a dessert and divide it into smaller portions so it was like scones, I thought that was a brilliant idea.

The only issue was that, the one time I made soda bread—which was years ago—it turned out dry and not that great. But, with a few more years of baking under my belt, I felt I could tackle it this time around. After looking through an array of recipes, I didn’t find one that quite fit the bill. So I used a few different recipes to get an idea of the ingredient ratios and came up with my own. And they turned out so well that one of my coworkers emailed me saying they were “So.Da.Licious.”

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
Coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Add lemon juice, cream, and honey. Stir in cherries. Divide the dough into four portions. Using floured hands, shape each portion into a disc that’s about an inch thick. Cut disc into four sections and place individual pieces on cookie sheets. Press about a teaspoon of coarse sugar onto the top of each scone. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Serve.

Seattle products make a pizza that’s hard to top

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I’ve been attending a lecture series on animals by Seattle Arts and Lectures. During one of the lectures, the speaker discussed the farming industry and mentioned that the rate at which humans consume meat simply isn’t sustainable as the population continues to grow. He mentioned finding alternate products, such as items made by Field Roast, a Seattle-based company that makes meat-like products out of grains and vegetables as a protein alternative. On my next trip to the store, I spotted some Field Roast sausage on the shelf, so I picked it up to try it. I’ve never liked regular sausage—mostly because of the texture—but this appeared to be a little different. I broke one of the links up and added it to a scramble the next day. It was really good.

I still had a link left when I got a craving for pizza last night. I didn’t want to wait too long for pizza dough to rise properly, so I opened up my Smitten Kitchen cookbook to the recipe for Rushed Pizza Dough and got to work.

As the dough was rising, I looked through my fridge for more toppings and found some locally made goat cheese and some Beecher’s Smoked Flagship cheese. I thought they’d help tone down the spiciness of the sausage a bit. I also had some fresh pesto and dill on hand to round out the flavors. It was definitely the best pizza I’ve made in recent memory, and a combination I plan on recreating.

Rushed Pizza Dough
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
Olive oil, for coating bowl

Preheat oven to warm (200-225 degrees F) for 5 minutes; then turn it off.

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let it stand for 5 minutes. Add the flour, then salt, and mix with a wooden spoon until a rough, craggy mass forms. Turn dough and any loose bits out onto lightly floured counter, and knead for 5 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms.

Coat inside of mixing bowl with olive oil, place dough back in bowl, then cover with plastic wrap. Place in previously warmed oven, and let it sit for 30 minutes, or until doubled. Remove dough from oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Using your hands, shape the dough into a circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Toppings
4 tablespoons pesto
1 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage
3 ounces goat cheese
3 ounces Beecher’s Smoked Flagship cheese
1 sprig of fresh dill, torn into small pieces

Spread the pesto around the shaped dough, leaving about a half inch of space between the sauce and the edges. Break apart the sausage and sprinkle onto the pizza. Do the same with the goat cheese. Grate the goat cheese over the top, and sprinkle the dill on. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Cut and serve.