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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Dinner Rolls and the Neely's Zucchini Gratin

I love to watch the Food Network, whenever I can. Hubby laughs at me, since I drive myself insane drooling over half of what I see. But every now and then I see a recipe that I just have to try. That's what happened when I was watching Down Home with the Neely's, last Saturday. I saw them make a Zucchini Gratin and thought, "well, I have zucchini in the fridge, that I'm avoiding, so why not". Now I'm not too fond of zucchini, but do not hate it. I just don't really know how to cook with it much, in a way that I really enjoy the texture and flavor. I figured anything covered in cheese is good, so let's give it a try. Queenie McBeenie was a little ornery that day, so needless to say she wasn't thrilled when Mommy put her in her walker, so she could make dinner. In my haste to hurry up and stop the whining at my heals, I left out the flour and thyme. The flavor was still delicious, but the dish was watery. Regardless, it was delicious. I had 2 servings, and Queenie had a healthy helping as well. Mr.B, is in his 'I'm not hungry, but want dessert' phase, so he only picked at his dinner once again. I will definitely try it again, adding the flour and thyme in next time, LOL.



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Zucchini Gratin
Down Home with the Neely's

2 Tbs butter1 med onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
6 zucchini, sliced into half moons, 1/4-inch thick
2 plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1 Tbs freshly chopped thyme
2 Tbs flour
salt and pepper
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C half and half
1/4 C grated sharp white cheddar
1/4 C Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and 8X8 casserole dish. In a large heavy bottomed saute pan over med heat, melt butter. Saute onion and garlic until translucent. Add zucchini and tomatoes, cook about 7 mins. Add thyme, and flour. Season with salt and pepper. Add mixture to casserole dish. In a bowl, beat eggs. Combine with half and half, brown sugar and salt and pepper. Pour over zucchini. Top with cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
Cindy's notes: I used Mozzarella cheese instead of white Cheddar and 1% milk, for the half and half.

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I'm really intrigued by these recipes for no knead bread. I was sent one in a cooking new letter before Thanksgiving. Though it was good, I wasn't in love with the rolls. So remembering that the Pioneer Woman had a no knead roll recipe, I ventured over to her site. I took note of a few other recipes I need to try and printed off her roll recipe. Off to the kitchen I went. Now I scaled her recipe to 1/4 the size of what it usually is, since it seemed we'd be eating rolls until spring, if I made the full batch. So I made the rolls, which was pretty easy. I'm not sure about the last step of adding flour, baking soda and powder though. I had a hard time knowing if all was mixed properly. It must not have been since some of the rolls had brown spots in them. Regardless, they tasted quite good. I will have to try this one again.



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Dinner Rolls - no kneading required
Pioneer Woman

The Cast of Characters:

Flour, Sugar, Milk, Vegetable Oil, Salt, and Active Dry Yeast. Everyone has this stuff!

Begin with 4 cups of milk.Pour the milk into a stock pot or dutch oven.To the milk, add 1 cup of sugar…And 1 cup of vegetable oil. Stir to combine.Now, turn the burner on medium to medium-low and “scald” the mixture, which means heat it up just until the point that it would boil. Before the mixture boils, turn off the heat. (Note: At this point in the game, I have walked away and forgotten about it more times than I care to count. If you come back to the stove and it’s boiling, don’t freak out. Just turn off the heat and it’ll be fine.)

NOW. Very important stuff here: walk away. Walk away and allow this mixture to cool to warm/lukewarm. The mixture will need to be warm enough to be a hospitable environment for the yeast, but not so hot that it kills the yeast and make it inactive. I don’t usually use a thermometer, but if you’d like to, a good temp is between 90 and 110 degrees. I usually feel the side of the pan with the palm of my hand. If it’s hot at all, I wait another 20 minutes or so. The pan should feel comfortably warm.

When you’re ready, throw in 4 cups of flour.Then sprinkle in 2 packages (or 4 1/2 teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast.Stir together to get the yeast into the warm moistness. (Warm moistness…for some reason that phrase makes me want to take a nap. I can’t explain why.)After the yeast and flour are nicely incorporated, add another 4 cups of flour. The reason I didn’t add the 8 cups all together is that I wanted to give the yeast a chance to mingle with the warmth a little more.Stir together and allow to sit, covered with a tea towel or lid, for an hour. The dough will seem overly sticky. Make sure you don’t set it next to a freezing cold window; it’s best if it’s in a relatively warm environment. Near the stove is fine.

After an hour (or so) the mixture will have poufed up quite a bit. If yours doesn’t look like it’s changed much, put it in a warm (but turned-off) oven for 45 minutes or so. Now, to finish it off, add 1 more cup of flour…1 heaping (more than level) teaspoon baking powder…1 scant (less than level) teaspoon baking soda…And 2 tablespoons salt. Now stir together until combined. It’ll be a little tough to stir, so sometimes I’ll knead it around on the countertop a few times just to get the ingredients combined. But remember…with this dough, there’s NO NEED TO KNEAD!

When it’s all mixed, you can put it in the fridge, covered, for up to two days before using the dough (which means you can go make the dough NOW if you’re using it tomorrow.) Or, if you make it the day of, you can just leave it on the counter until you need it. Keep in mind, though, that the dough will continue to rise (though more slowly in the fridge) so you’ll have to occasionally punch it down if it overflows. NOTE: If you do refrigerate the dough, be sure to remove it from the fridge an hour or two before you need it.

When you’re ready to make the rolls, here’s what to do:

Butter 1 or 2 muffin pans, depending on how many rolls you need. Don’t be shy, turkeys! Lay it on as thick as you want. To form the rolls, pinch off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Make like a six-year-old and roll it into a ball. Repeat, and tuck three balls of dough into each buttered muffin tin. Continue until the pan is full.

Now, it’s very important to give the rolls plenty of room to RISE, as that will make all the difference in the ultimate consistency of the rolls. How quickly they rise depends on many factors: how warm the room is, where the pan is, and whether or not the yeast is in a good mood that day. I always allow myself a good 2 to 3 hours before the meal to allow the rolls to rise, as there’s nothing worse than having to bake flat rolls.

Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Keep your eye on them, though. I’m the biggest roll burner there is and you shouldn’t listen to me. If you think of it ahead of time, you can brush melted butter on the tops of the unbaked rolls. Or, you can brush the tops with eggs whites and sprinkle them with poppyseeds. Or, you can just leave them plain.

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