Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancakes!

This idea kind of stemmed from two things, one my craving for delicious pancakes and my family's love of all things bacon.  With as popular as the bacon/chocolate combo is these days I felt I needed to finally hitch myself to that particular bandwagon.  Before you totally reject this recipe, you know cause seriously bacon and chocolate is weird in pancakes, I must tell you I slaved over this one.  I sort of wrote it myself...well I used an old hand written pancake recipe scribbled into one of my notepads and tweaked it until it tasted just right...and now that I have guilted you all into reading further...I think you should all try it too!

Now, I doubt it is truly a nutritious breakfast, but it was a special treat and we all enjoyed it very much.  The trick is, sigh...don't judge me, the trick is to put actual bacon grease in the pancakes in order to provide more bacon-y flavor.  You should all try it at least once.  They are delicious and lots of fun to make with the whole family!

Whisk together your dry ingredients.

Add in the wet ingredients and whisk until there are only small lumps left.

Like this!

Add in bacon pieces and mini chocolate chips.

Mix well...

Cook on a preheated skillet until small bubbles appear.

Flip and cook until lightly browned on each side and cooked through.

Top with maple or chocolate syrup and serve!

Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Makes about 12-18 full size pancakes depending on size

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup bacon grease
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
4 pieces bacon, chopped

Start by cooking up about 1/2 a package of bacon.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Whisk in the milk, egg, melted butter, vanilla and bacon grease.  The mixture will have some small lumps but will be mostly smooth when done.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips and bacon pieces.

Pour 1/2 cup or so of the batter into a preheated skillet and cook until bubbles begin to appear. Flip over and allow to cook until both sides are lightly browned and the pancake is cooked through.  Serve with maple or chocolate syrup, fresh fruit and extra bacon along side!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Zucchini Cupcakes

Our garden, as previously mentioned, seems to think that we only need and want ginormous zucchinis and so has been mass producing crazy sized versions of this vegetable.  After doing a couple of pasta dishes, I realized that my zucchini arsenal of recipes was tapped and I turned to baked goods in order to use up some of our years long supply.  I have never tried zucchini in baked good form.  I know, I know, crazy!  But I just have never gotten around to it I guess.  For my first zucchini baked goodie, I chose cupcakes of course, and, while I myself did not really enjoy them (I guess I don't like zucchini baked goods...) my family and friends seemed to like these cupcakes and so I will share them with you too!

One of our ginormous zucchinis.  Yup, that is a Morton salt container back there...

Shred your zucchini using a cheese grater or food processor in order to get about 2 cups...

Gather up all of your ingredients.

Whisk or sift your dry ingredients together.

I made a double batch, so I have extra eggs and oil.  Had to use up as much of the zucchini as I could!

Mix all of your wet ingredients together.

Add in the flour and mix until combined.

While the cupcakes are in teh freezer, prepare the frosting using a hand or stand mixer.

Blend until smooth and creamy.

Remove cupcakes from the freezer, frost and enjoy!

Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 24, adapted from i am baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini (1 med. or 1/3 of a ginormous one...)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare cupcake pans. (Also check to make sure you have some freezer space available for the cupcakes, you'll see why.)

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.

In a seprate larger bowl, mix together the zucchini, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Add in the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Scoop into cupcake liners using a 1/4 cup measuring cup or ice cream scoop.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Place trays directly into the freezer after they come out of the oven and leave for about an hour.  (Just do it, trust me!  Or else your cupcakes will sink and become tough and not taste as good.  I know, my first tray never made it to the freezer...)

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 stick butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.

Frost the cupcakes when then are completely cool.  Make sure to refrigerate any leftover cupcakes because of the cream cheese in the frosting.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hamburger and Slider Buns

Originally this recipe was going to be joined with my post for the sliders, but with all the pictures I had of those and then all the ones I had for this recipe, I felt that they could each stand on their own.  So the day that I made the sliders I searched all of the whopping two grocery stores we have here in town for slider buns only to be disappointed.  I so badly wanted to use my Williams Sonoma slider press...then it occurred to me, why not make my own buns?  I had seen a recipe on another blog recently that featured hamburger buns...why not give it a try and just make them extra small for sliders?  With that decided, we headed home and  I got to work!

I made these on a marathon cooking day...I was making sliders, grilling up one of the monster zucchinis from our garden, making these slider buns and zucchini cupcakes! Yeah, it was a busy day in the kitchen here.  Anyway, the great thing about making breads is that you have a lot of down time while you are waiting for it to rise in which you can do things like work on sliders and cupcakes so it all worked out pretty well.  The buns were absolutely delicious!  Definitely making them again...we didn't have any leftover so I was really glad I took some pics before we sat down to eat!

Gather up all of your ingredients, pre-measuring things like salt and sugar when appropriate.

Mix together the milk, water, yeast and sugar and set aside until it is frothy.  It will take about 5 minutes or so...

and look like this when it is ready.

Place the salt and flour in a mixing bowl.

 Whisk together to combine and break up any clumps.

Then, using a pastry cutter, mix in the butter with the flour mixture.

Mix until small crumbs form.

It will look like this when you are done.

Add in one egg and yeast mixture with the flour mixture.

Using your dough hook, mix on medium-high for 7 minutes or until a good elastic dough forms and it pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  the dough will be somewhat tacky but not super sticky.

Set aside and let rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.  
(This was taken after the dough had risen.)

Cut the ball of dough into 4 pieces.

Then cut each fourth into 5 pieces for slider rolls.

Roll into tight balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Press down slightly to form disc-like shapes.  Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until double again, about 1-2 hours.

Mix together the remaining egg with some water to form an egg wash and brush over the top of the rolls.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds or whatever other toppings you desire...

such as minced onions or garlic.  Bake about 10 minutes for sliders, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool completely then slice in half and serve with sliders and veggies!  YUMMMY!!!

Slider Buns
Adapted from Lemon-Sugar

3 Tbsp. lukewarm milk
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
sesame seeds, minced onions or other roll toppings

In a glass bowl or measuring cup combine the milk, water, yeast and sugar.  Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a stand mixer, or bowl, whisk the flour and salt.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbs form.  Then add yeast mixture and one egg and beat with dough hook of the stand mixer for about 7 minutes, or until a good smooth dough forms.  It will be a little tacky at this point, but should pull away from the bowl sides fairly easily and be able to be pulled off of your fingers without difficulty.  If it is still too sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time just until the dough comes off of the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in a well greased bowl covered with cling wrap to let rise until double in size, about an hour or two.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silplat mat (or spray it really well with spray if you are out of parchment paper like I was).  Cut the dough into 20-24 pieces or so for sliders or 10-12 pieces for regular hamburger rolls.  Roll into balls again and place on the baking sheets.  Cover loosely with cling wrap and again let them rise for an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 400F.  Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon of water and brush the tops of the rolls with it.  Sprinkle on the toppings, sesame seeds or minced onions were my choices, and bake about 10-12 minutes for sliders or 15 minutes for regular buns.  Cool completely and slice in half before serving.

My family said these were even better than store bought...guess I know what I'll be doing for buns from now on!

Bacon Cheeseburger and Cheesy Jalapeno Sliders

I just love sliders, don't you?  They are all cute and tiny and if done right you can pack a pretty good wallop of flavor into those teeny tiny 2 bite burgers.  A few weeks ago, we had some beautiful weather in which I decided to make these little gems.  They came to me early in the morning as I was getting up, or maybe they were the remnants of a dream, not sure that it really matters.  All I know is that morning when I woke up and saw the gorgeous sunshine, I decided I had to have sliders with jalapenos and shredded cheese mixed in.  My sister-in-law of course mightily agreed (she's got a thing for everything peppers...) since this sounded like the perfect summer meal on such a perfect summer day.

Assemble all of your ingredients and throw them all into a large bowl and mix them together.  Let sit a about half an hour to let the flavors blend.

Grab your slider press if you have one, and place down some foil or parchment paper for easy clean up later.

Place a golf ball size amount of meat into each compartment of the press.

Gently flatten out the meat to make it easier to get uniform squares.  If you don't sometimes you will end up with thick spots or corners missing.  

Press down firmly on the top of the press to ensure that the sliders are compact and hold together nicely on the grill. 

Carefully remove the top, being sure to leave the patties on the foil. 

Remove the base of the press and there you have them! Sliders!

Grill on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or just until about done.  Be sure to still leave them juicy and moist...you don't want them to overcook. 
 (Yup, those are some giant zucchini slices...our garden apparently only grows monster ones...)

Top with your favorite toppings and serve on little buns.  
(I made the buns too...I'll post them in a little bit!)

Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders
makes about 12-16 sliders

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup bacon bits
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 Tbsp. Montreal steak seasoning

Mix all of the ingredients together and let sit for about half an hour so that all the flavors can marinade and the bacon can soften up a bit.  Grill for 4-5 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the sliders, until they are cooked just about through but still juicy and moist.  Top with a good slice of sharp cheddar cheese and whatever condiments and veggies float your boat!

Cheesy Jalapeno Sliders
makes about 12-16 sliders

1 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp. dried jalapenos, or one fresh jalapeno
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 Tbsp. Montreal steak seasoning

Mix all of the ingredients together and let sit for about half and hour to let all the flavors mix and the jalapenos soften.  Grill for 4-5 minutes, same as the bacon cheeseburger sliders, just until mostly done so that they are still moist and juicy.  Top with sliced pepperjack cheese for an extra kick and whatever else you desire!

These were so good that all 7 of us home for dinner that night ate almost 50 of them (I used 4 lbs. cause we had such a big group).  I recommend having some sort of slider press for making that many though...like the one I picked up from Williams Sonoma last year near the end of summer on clearance.  They might have some more clearanced out this year...you should check them out!