the baker upstairs: November 2014

11.24.2014

krispy kreme copycat doughnuts

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You know a recipe is pretty much the best thing ever if I post a picture of it on instagram one day and then post the recipe on the blog the next day. I usually try to write and schedule posts in advance, but every now and then I find a recipe that is so delicious, it just has to be shared immediately. And these Krispy Kreme copycat doughnuts are just that! I would say that this is one of the top five recipes I have ever posted on this blog. I was very skeptical about my ability to make donuts that taste like Krispy Kreme, especially with my deep-seated fear of deep frying, but these are just perfection in every way. The texture is perfect - light and airy, with a lightly glazed top that crackles when you bite into it. And the taste is amazing… so flavorful and lightly sweet. Just the glaze itself was so delicious that I kept sneaking little tastes when I dipped the doughnuts.


I think what was most surprising to me about these doughnuts was that they were actually very straightforward to make. The dough mixed up quickly and used ingredients I already had in the house, and the whole process was very simple and easy to follow. I've only made doughnuts a few times before but they've always seemed like a big production. Geoff and I made these together while listening to the Serial podcast (seriously so good and I am dying from the suspense of it all!) and the time flew by. I can't wait to make these again for pretty much every special occasion!

Krispy Kreme Copycat Doughnuts

for the doughnuts:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk, warmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening, room temperature
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour, more as needed
oil for frying

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
3-4 teaspoons hot water, more as needed

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of sugar. Let sit until bubbly, 5-10 minutes. Add the sugar, evaporated milk, salt, shortening, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and one cup of flour, and mix to combine. Add another cup of flour and mix to combine. Add the remaining flour, a few tablespoons at a time, until a soft dough forms. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky but should not stick to your finger when you quickly tap the dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rings using a doughnut cutter or two round cutters (I used a 3 1/2 inch cutter and a 1 1/2 inch cutter). Cover and let rise 30 minutes, or until doubled. (It's okay to re-roll the scraps, but the texture won't be quite as light and airy - totally still worth it though!)

After the doughnuts have risen, preheat the oil in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot to 360 degrees. Be careful to keep the oil between 360 and 370 and adjust the heat on the burner or remove from the heat as needed. While the oil is heating, whisk together the glaze. Add enough water to make a smooth glaze with about the consistency of honey. Fry the donuts a few at a time, turning after 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a wire cooling rack lined with paper towels and let cool 3-4 minutes. When they have cooled slightly, dip the tops of the doughnuts into the glaze and then return them to the cooling rack (be careful not to burn your fingers like I did). Let cool and enjoy!

recipe from Cooking Classy


11.19.2014

hash brown waffles

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Okay, this is definitely more of a kitchen tip than an actual recipe, but since it's my favorite thing I've made all week, I'm definitely going to share it! My family has been nuts about hash browns lately, so when I saw this idea on Pinterest a few days ago, I was excited to try it. I read a bunch of different methods and kind of combined some different ideas, and they turned out awesome! I love how crisp and delicious they get on the outside, and they could not be easier to make. I've had requests for them every day since I made them, so I think it's safe to say they're a new family favorite!

They are seriously so simple! Start by preheating your waffle iron. When it's heated, spray with cooking spray, and add some frozen tater tots (no need to thaw first). I did 3 rows of 3 and that worked great for my waffle iron. If yours is shaped differently than mine, use whatever configuration works.


Drop the top down and put a little pressure on it to start squishing those tater tots. Cook 10-15 minutes, continuing to apply more pressure as the tater tots warm up, until the waffles are golden brown and crispy.


Mine popped out of the waffle iron easily (I used a fork like I do with regular waffles) and held together really well. If they're falling apart when you try to pull them out, I would recommend letting them cook a little while longer. We ate them with ketchup for dipping and some fried eggs and fruit on the side. Super delicious and my kids cleaned their plates. I hope you'll like them as much as we do!


11.14.2014

chicken cordon bleu pasta

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Yeah, I totally can't stop with the one dish pasta meals/variations on mac and cheese. They're just too easy and too yummy! Sometimes it's nice to have a meal that I know the kids will eat without complaints. Plus there's just something so homey and comforting about a simple pasta dish. My mom used to make a creamy pasta with ham all the time when I was a kid, and it was my favorite for years. I've been craving chicken cordon bleu lately, so when I found all the ingredients for this little number in the fridge and pantry, I decided to give it a try. So delicious! I'm excited to have another fun and easy pasta dish under my belt for busy weeknights!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

8 ounces pasta (I used casarecce but pretty much any kind would work)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
1 cup grated swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used rotisserie)
3/4 cup chopped ham (I used turkey ham)
1/4 cup cracker crumbs or buttered bread crumbs

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain. While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste. Let cook 2-3 minutes until golden. Gradually add the milk, whisking so there are no lumps. Let cook for a few minutes until thickened, then gradually add the chicken broth, continuing to whisk constantly. Whisk in the salt and pepper, then let the mixture cook for a few minutes, until thickened to desired consistency. Remove from heat and whisk in the swiss cheese until melted. Return to heat and stir in the chicken, ham, and cooked pasta, until warmed through. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs, then serve. Enjoy!

11.12.2014

double chocolate mint cookies

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Why, yes, it is November, and I'm already posting a Christmas recipe! I know, I know… I'm all for letting Thanksgiving have its due, and I agree that things are getting ridiculous when the stores have Christmas decorations up before Halloween. But… when I start seeing those holiday baking supplies set up in the store, I just can't stop myself. It's a compulsion, really. Anyway, these double chocolate mint cookies are super delicious, and it really wouldn't be fair not to share them with you right now. :) If you, like me, are trying to plan things out ahead of time for the busy holiday season, then these cookies could be a big help to you in planning a cookie exchange party or thinking up a yummy gift for the neighbors!

Click here to read more.

11.10.2014

creamy coconut butternut squash soup

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Happy Monday! I'm so happy that fall is finally in full swing around here. The weather is crisp, the leaves have turned, and (gasp!) I actually had to turn on my heater last week. All signs point to soup season! This creamy coconut butternut squash soup is a new favorite for me, and is so delicious! There's a cute little french cafe not too far from us that Geoff and I have been to a few times, and they have the most divine, out of this world butternut squash soup. It is one of my very favorite foods in the world! I've been wanting to try a version at home, and when I stumbled across this recipe (which looked super easy and used ingredients I already had on hand) I knew it was meant to be. It's not the same as the soup I usually order at the cafe, but it is a good substitute and incredibly flavorful, as well as being reasonably healthy! I served it with the biscuits I posted last week and got a thumbs up from both girls and the hubs as well. I can't stop thinking about it and will definitely be making it frequently this winter. Yum!

Creamy Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups butternut squash, cut into chunks (I used a package of pre-cut squash)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
3/4 cup half and half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons shredded coconut

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the chicken broth, squash, and sweet potato, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes and squash are tender and easily pierced with a fork. Blend the mixture using an immersion blender or by blending in batches in a blender (leave an opening for steam to escape). Return to the pot and stir in the coconut milk, half and half, salt, cumin, and coconut. Warm until heated through. Serve with extra coconut for garnish.

adapted from Super Healthy Kids

11.06.2014

slow cooker salsa verde chicken

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I have another super easy dinner idea to share with you today! Because, well, that seems to be the only kind of dinner I can scrape together lately. This slow cooker salsa verde chicken is incredibly easy to make (only 4 ingredients!) and is super versatile. We used it for tacos with cheese, salsa, sour cream, and lettuce on top, but it would also be delicious in enchiladas, burritos, mexican casseroles, etc. This recipe was enough for three meals for my little family, so I put the extra in the freezer for another day (when I'm feeling even lazier or have even less time to make dinner). I have some serious love for tomatillos, so I'm kind of crazy about the salsa verde. I'm sure any salsa would be delicious in this, though. I love how simple and easy it is, and my whole family loved their tacos!
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 breasts)
16 ounce jar of salsa verde (I used Herdez brand)
juice of one lime
1 small onion, sliced

Pour a small amount of salsa into the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the onions on top, followed by the chicken breasts. Pour remaining salsa over the top, reserving about 1/4 cup. Squeeze lime juice over the top. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours. Shred the chicken using two forks and toss in the cooking liquid. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of salsa. Use for tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, or enchiladas. Enjoy!


11.04.2014

flaky buttermilk biscuits

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Happy November! We've had a huge cool down in the weather in the last few days, and it is totally getting me in the mood for fall (and especially yummy fall foods). I loooove soups and could eat them for dinner every night in the fall, and these flaky buttermilk biscuits are pretty much the best ever side for soup. I've made them more times than I can count now, and every time they disappear within a few minutes. The kids love them, and we're pretty obsessed with them too! I served these with some butternut squash soup (recipe coming soon) and fresh homemade peach jam. They are pretty much just biscuit perfection!

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and cut in using a pastry cutter or two knives, until the butter is about pea-sized and smaller. Add the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangle that is about 6 x 9 inches. Fold each side of the dough over the middle (like you're folding a letter) and pat out again to  about 6 x 9 inches. Cut biscuits out of the dough using desired size of biscuit cutter (I usually use a 2 inch cutter). Place on prepared baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy!


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