August 24, 2016

Raspberry Linzer Windowpane Cookies

Anyone who knows me, knows that sweets are my one true weakness. That being said, they are also my favorite dish to prepare in the kitchen, So this week I decided to give in to my sweet tooth while serving up an international treat from halfway around the world. So just what is a Linzer cookie? 

A Linzer Torte is a traditional Austrian pastry that originated from the city of Linz, Austria. It is a crumbly pastry complete with a latticework design on the top and some form of preserves at the center of the torte. Traditional ingredients include: flour, butter, egg yolks, lemon zest, cinnamon, lemon juice, ground nuts(such as hazelnuts or almonds) and redcurrant jam. Linzer cookies  are a twist on this traditional torte recipe because instead of  a traditional torte-like cake shape, you cut out cookies from the dough and stack them together using preserves. A sort of Austrian Oreo of sorts.

In my recipe, I did not include nuts (as I am not much of a fan of nuts in my cookies) or lemon juice/lemon zest as it was not called for in the particular recipe I was following. The ingredients that I did use are as follows:

- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
- 1 egg (not pictured, my bad)
- 1/4 cup raspberry jam (or any kind that you'd like, raspberry is just more traditional)
- 2 tsp of powdered sugar to top

In a mixing bowl, combine your flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir until completely combined and set aside. In another large mixing bowl, blend your softened butter and sugar with a mixer on low until light and fluffy. Continue beating at low speed and gradually add your flour mix to your butter and sugar. Beat until blended and a soft dough forms. Then divide mix in half and wrap each separate portion in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool for at least 1 hour. 

Wrapped and ready to chill

After an hour, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and take one dough packet out of the fridge to roll (only go through one dough piece at a time because the colder it is, the easier it is to roll out). What I have found works best for rolling dough is to place one sheet of wax paper down on the counter and lightly flour it. Then place your unwrapped dough on top and then cover with another sheet of wax paper. This allows you to spread the dough without having to worry about covering your rolling pin in flour so the dough won't stick. Roll out your dough to about 1/8 inch thickness and remove the top layer of wax paper. Use a cookie cutter of your choice (mine was shaped like a flower) and cut out your cookies from the dough. On half of them, take a knife or small round cookie cutter and cut a small circle out of the middle (so it looks like a doughnut), these will serve as our top layer and "windowpane."

Lay cookies on a sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the rolling, cutting, baking and cooling process until all of your dough has become delicious cinnamon scented cookies. Once completely cooled, pair up tops and bottoms and place a small dollop of preserves on the center of the bottom cookie. Cover with the top window cookie and sprinkle with powdered sugar. For storage, I lined a large Tupperware with wax paper, placed my cookies inside, and put them in the fridge to ensure a longer shelf life. You could also freeze them if you don't plan to eat them right away, but trust me, they won't last very long!

The dough reminds me of a sugar cookie in taste, save for the fact that it has a very prevalent cinnamon undertone, but this sweet dough helps to cut back on some of the tartness of the raspberry jam, with some help from the powdered sugar. Overall it blends very well and was super delicious! And I have to say that this recipe is definitely a keeper.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this post and wish you sweet success in your kitchen endeavors!


August 11, 2016

Zesty Chicken Fingers

It's been a really long time since I have been able to post anything on the blog, school has kept me pretty busy for these past two weeks with tests and class finals, but I wanted to find the time to upload a short recipe post.  I love scouring the Internet in search of new recipes and this one caught my eye last week, it's a zesty take on homemade chicken strips, and who doesn't love chicken strips?

I had most of the ingredients in my pantry already so I only had to pick up some chicken from the store. The list of ingredients are as follows:

- Package of boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs + 2 tsp of water
-1 cup Panko bread crumbs

- 1 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/3 cup hot sauce (I used Frank's)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp water

Total time for prep and cooking: 45 minutes

Preheat your oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with tin foil and top with some cooking spray, set aside. In one bowl crack your two eggs, add the water and beat until combined. Add your Panko crumbs to another small bowl and set both aside.

 Place your flour in a small Ziploc bag and add a few of your chicken tenderloins, about 3 or 4. Close bag and shake well to coat all of your chicken in flour. Remove chicken from bag (making sure to shake off the excess flour). Place your strips in the egg batter, be sure to coat both sides (or else your breading won't stick properly). Then place your egg coated chicken into your Panko crumbs and coat both sides evenly. Once completely coated in bread crumbs, place your strips on your greased and foil lined baking sheet about 1-2 inches apart, season with salt and pepper. Repeat this process for the rest of your chicken strips.

Once your pan is filled, place in your 425 F oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until they start to brown ( I flipped them over with some tongs halfway through to make sure they got brown on both sides). 

While your chicken is cooking, place a saucepan on the stove and add your brown sugar and hot sauce. Cook on medium to medium high heat, stirring until your sauce is smooth. Once your sauce starts to boil, remove it from the heat and add your garlic powder and water. Stir until completely mixed and smooth in texture. 

I then poured my sauce into my metal bowl so I could toss my strips.( Pro tip: the larger bowl you have to toss your strips, the easier it will be. I used a smaller metal bowl and put all of my strips in  and found it was a little difficult to coat all of them at once. So only coat a few at a time and repeat until your strips are done).

I had previously lined a bowl with tin foil to place my strips in, just in case the sauce would be difficult to wash off later, but I really didn't have any trouble. With this recipe it's also optional to drizzle your strips with ranch when you have them fully coated (which I did, it helped to counteract the zestiness of the strips as well as to ensure that the texture wasn't too dry).

On to the flavor: As someone who really doesn't like spicy foods I was a bit concerned that these might be too hot for me to handle, but the brown sugar really keeps that heat in check. The flavors blend so well, it's mainly sweet but in the aftertaste you get a kick from that hot sauce (you can always adjust your sauce if you want it to be more sweet or hot by adding either more brown sugar or hot sauce, go by what tastes right to you). I really did end up loving this recipe and I will definitely be making it again (although perhaps I'll make a larger recipe next time since there were hardly any strips left!) A great twist on this recipe would be to cut your chicken into smaller pieces (almost nuggets) and bake them and coat with sauce and use a toothpick to dip them in ranch. It would be a wonderful appetizer for any party!

I really had fun trying out this new recipe and I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post! 

Have a lovely day

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

So my parents were coming by for a visit and I wanted to make them something special and sweet, but not too sugary. I love trying out new recipes, so I took to the internet and found this one floating around the Food Network website (so you know it had to be good). I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry, so I didn't have to do too much shopping. The ingredients are as follows:

- 1 package of strawberries sliced and stemmed
- 5 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (I ended up using closer to two)
- Whipped cream

The first step is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and while I was waiting for that to warm up I thoroughly washed, de-stemmed and  sliced my strawberries into a large bowl. You then take three of your five tablespoons of sugar and add it to the strawberries to help form a syrupy glaze. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about a half hour.

In another large bowl I mixed together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, the rest of my sugar, and the salt. Then add the heavy cream and stir until completely blended. (Note: the batter will be extremely thick and sticky like biscuit dough, so be careful as I actually snapped one of my smaller spatulas trying to mix this together.) See images below:

 Once I had thoroughly mixed the thick dough I sprayed an 8x8 cooking pan with nonstick spray, ensuring to get not only the bottom, but the sides as well. Pro tip: when pressing a sticky batter into a pan I find that the easiest way to do this is to wet your hands with cold water and then press your dough, as this keeps the batter from sticking to your fingers. Wet hands as often as needed to completely press all of your dough.

You then place your pan into the 400 F oven and bake until it's golden brown, around 20 minutes. ( I used this spare time to finish everyone's least favorite kitchen task: washing all of the dirty dishes.)

Once you take your finished cake out of the oven, let it cool on the stove or counter for a few minutes before putting on some oven mitts and carefully flipping your cake out of the pan (I  placed mine on some wax paper on top of my wire drying rack). It sort of resembles a giant biscuit since it does not raise much.

As part of the recipe, you could also make your own homemade whipped cream, but I opted to use some Cool Whip instead. I will include a link for this recipe at the bottom of the page for those of you who want to check it out. 

I let my cake cool on the rack for about 20 minutes before cutting out a square from the corner. You then slice your cake horizontally so you have a top piece and a bottom piece (like a cake sandwich). Load the bottom piece up with whipped cream, add the top layer and do the same, then top with strawberries.

Unsurprisingly, the cake itself is not sweet at all (due to the lack of sugar in the batter) so the sweetness is instead found in the Cool Whip and sugared strawberries. I love sweets and was worried that I might be disappointed in this cake but I have to say that the flavor is amazing! It has this sweet and salty thing going on and the flavors blend so very well. The creaminess of the whipped cream is a great compliment to the crumbliness of the cake. It's the perfect cake for anyone looking for a dessert that's not too sweet or heavy, and it was very simple and easy to make. It was a hit with both parents and friends alike, so I have to say that this is a recipe I will definitely be making again! 

Stay Sweet!


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