Girl Versus Dough

Sifted Words — thankful.

I know Thanksgiving is over, and all that remains of it is a handful of leftover dinner rolls, a broken turkey wishbone, some pie crumbs and a loosened belt.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not still thankful for so many things.

I thought I’d share them with you. And no matter how cheesy/cliche/commonplace this list may be, you know you feel thankful for so many things in your own life. Go on. Admit it. That’s right.

I am thankful for (in no particular order) —

Family.

Friends.

My husband.

Butter.

Vacations.

Holidays.

Sunshine.

My kitty.

Cake.

Beauty.

Jesus. (sorry, no picture for this one, but if I did have one, WHOA.)

A home.

Opportunity.

Flowers.

Biscuits.

Coffee.

Love.

And you.

Happy Sunday.

Round Forty Five — Homemade Pizza Rolls

Homemade Pizza Rolls

Ever heard of Pizza Rolls? I’m sure you have. They’re those frozen pockets of dough filled with cheese and pizza sauce as well as what I’m sure is a whole host of bad things for you.

Of course, the husband loves them.

It’s become a habit of ours lately to buy nasty frozen treats like these for the weekends or for weekday dinners when neither of us has the energy to even lift a finger. Though I don’t generally partake in the heaping mound of Pizza Rolls the husband warms up for himself for lunch or game days, I have been found guilty of eating a frozen burrito or lasagna from a box. It’s shameful.

This weekend, I decided to make some changes. So, after eating buttery theater popcorn (while watching the new Harry Potter movie, of course) on Friday and helping ourselves to a generous serving of Mexican food on Saturday, I thought it best to at least make the inevitable Pizza Roll lunch on Sunday a healthy meal.

I wouldn’t necessarily call these an exact replica of those infamous Pizza Rolls — they’re more like doughy pillows with a hint of cheese and pizza sauce. Still delicious, but not quite the same. If you’re going for a healthy lunch — er, snack — these will do the trick, but if you’re really craving actual Pizza Rolls, these won’t hit the spot. But they do make a tasty lunch — er, snack — and saved us from being a few hundred calories shy in our weekend of what Michael Phelps devours in a day. It’s all relative.

Debrief: As mentioned above, if you’re looking for legitimate Pizza Rolls, these aren’t quite the same. But they taste like mini pizzas wrapped in dough. Kind of like a calzone. A mini calzone pillow. Yeah.

Homemade Pizza Rolls A Girl Versus Dough original (gasp!)

Yields: About 28 pizza rolls Ingredients: 1 3/4 cups flour 3/4 tsp salt 2/3 cup warm water 1/2 tbsp sugar 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil 1/2 cup pizza sauce 1/3 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in water, yeast and sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Then, add olive oil and mix ingredients together until a dough forms. Pour dough onto counter and knead about 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place risen dough on countertop and, using a rolling pin, roll into a very, very thin square (about as thin as the walls of a ravioli). Using a pizza cutter, cut square into strips lengthwise and then cut crosswise so you have about 56 individual 1 1/2-inch squares (or as many as you end up making). Put about 1/2 tsp pizza sauce on half the squares, and top with the same amount of cheese. Take the plain squares and place them on top of the squares with sauce and cheese and pinch the seams closed. Press fork tines around the edges of the squares to close the seams completely. Place each pocket on a baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly brown on the edges (I had to take mine out before they were very brown at all because the cheese and sauce was exploding out of the sides — oops). Serve immediately.

Round Forty Four — Cheddar Squash Muffins

Cheddar Squash Muffins

You may recall we just welcomed a new member to our family — Percy.

He was once a sweet, cute little kitten. He once lounged around all day and left me alone to bake (as you may also recall). In fact, he left me alone most of the time, unless he wanted to cuddle/rub his body against my ankles/meow at me until I fed him. It was nice.

Things have changed.

Here is a day in the life of Stephanie. Ready? Let me tell you how exciting it is — it’s exciting.

“Mmm, I made these amazing Cheddar Squash Muffins for dinner tonight.”

“What’s that? Muffins? Baking? Hmm, now I think is a good time to run around and cause some trouble. Let’s play hide and seek!”

“No, Percy, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. See, I’m taking pictures of these muffins here and, uh…”

“Nope. Go.”

“UGH. Where are you Percy?” (Proceed to chase Percy around our 750-square-foot apartment. You’d think this is no big deal, but this cat can find places we didn’t even know existed. Good grief.)

“You’re under the TV stand. How do you even fit under there?”

“Oh, now you’re hiding by your litter box. That’s just gross.”

“I can see you.” “No, you can’t!” “Yes, yes I can.

“Percy, I don’t have time for this. I have muffins to make. And a cake to finish for Elliott’s birthday (yes, those are M&Ms. For a 24-year-old’s birthday cake). Go… do something else.”

“OK. I’ll check on what Elliott is doing. … Can I have some cereal?”

“No, Percy. Go eat your salmon-y smelling cat food. Yum…”

“Ick, no thanks. I’ll just go check on what’s going on outside.”

“OoOOoooOOhhh… trees.”

“Thanks, Percy. Now I can get back to these muffins.”

“Whatever.”

Zzzzz…

Zz…

z.

Debrief: The original recipe calls for oatmeal muffin mix. From a box. Egads. So, I futzed around and made up what I thought would come from a box of muffin mix. I think it turned out well, though next time I might incorporate more salt, or sugar instead of honey, to “kick it up a notch,” if you will. But still, it’s a very tasty savory muffin that goes well with greens and mashed butternut squash.

Cheddar Squash Muffins Adapted from Glamour Magazine (uh huh.)

Ingredients: 2 eggs 1/2 cup water 1 cup mashed, roasted butternut squash* 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1/4 cup chopped scallions 1 cup uncooked rolled oats 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour 1 tbsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 cup honey

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and butter or grease a 12-cup muffin tin. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine squash, water and eggs. In a separate medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder and salt. Add to the large bowl scallions, cheese, oats and honey. Pour in flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fill muffin tin cups about 3/4 full with the batter and bake about 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are a golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool about five minutes on a cooling rack before serving.

*Extra punches: To roast a 2 lb butternut squash — Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a screwdriver or the sharp end of a meat thermometer, poke a hole in the squash. Place whole squash in a casserole baking dish or roasting pan and bake for about one hour, or until you can easily poke a fork in its side without resistance (that sounds gruesome, sorry). Remove from oven and, when cool enough to handle, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then, scoop out the soft squash and mash it. If you want to eat the remaining squash leftover from the recipe, mix the mashed squash with 1 tbsp butter and salt to taste.

Round Forty Three — Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

I know I’ve been kind of slow on the upkeep of this blog. But it’s not my fault.

It’s his.

Go ahead and try to blame him. I know I have.

It has not gone well.

Percy, as we’ve named him, moved in this weekend and I think he’s planning to stay. I think we’re OK with it. So long as he lets me bake, which so far, hasn’t been a problem.

These soft pretzels are a perfect complement to my husband Elliott’s Sunday Vikings Game-Watching Ritual. I’m kind of the best wife ever, not only letting him take over the TV for a few hours when I could be watching Project Runway marathons, but also making him game-day food. Yes, I’m gloating. As a (albeit lukewarm) Bears fan having lived with an obsessive Vikings fan for over a year, I think I’ve earned my right to do so.

But back to the pretzels. It took me multiple tries to get the twisting right (a few look like strangled pretzels, while others are just ugly blobs), but I eventually figured it out. The dough rose incredibly well and the boiling/baking process was really easy. The hardest part was keeping myself from eating them right away (a burnt tongue never killed anyone).

And Percy? Well…

I guess he’s more patient than I am.

Debrief: The pretzels will look ugly after being submerged in the baking soda bath. Don’t worry — this is normal. They’ll look less wrinkly once they’ve been baked (but there’s no saving the ones that are shaped nothing like pretzels). Soft Pretzels Courtesy of Michael Knock, the Iowa City Press-Citizen Yields: 8 pretzels

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups warm water 1 tbsp sugar 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast 4 1/2 cups flour 4 tbsp butter, melted 2 tsp salt 10 cups water 2/3 cup baking soda 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water Kosher or pretzel salt (or sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese) for dusting the pretzels (or sea salt, as I used) Directions: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until slightly foamy. Add in melted butter, flour and salt and, using the dough hook, knead for about 4-5 minutes or until the dough is cohesive and has pulled away completely from the edges of the bowl. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

When the dough is nearly doubled, bring to a boil the 10 cups water and baking soda. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line two baking sheets with lightly oiled parchment paper. In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and water for the egg wash. When dough is risen, remove from the bowl and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a 2-foot long rope and twist into a pretzel shape, pinching the edges to keep them from coming apart.

Using a turner, place one pretzel at a time into the baking soda bath and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the bath and place on parchment paper. Brush each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt or topping of your choice. Once all pretzels have been boiled, bake for about 12-14 minutes or until a deep brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Round Forty Two — Savory Wheat Biscuits

Savory Wheat Biscuits

I know — I’ve been in serious biscuit mode lately. I kind of adore them.

Who wouldn’t, though? They’re fluffy, buttery and very adept at becoming something else, like a sandwich or a jam/jelly holder. Sometimes they make great pie doughs or cobblers.

Sometimes they just make my belly full. And that’s fine with me.

After coming home from a week-long vacation in Florida with the family, I was ready for a little R&R (you know, a vacation from vacation), some fall weather and some warm, fluffy biscuits. I found this recipe for baking powder biscuits on the back of my Rumford Baking Powder, tweaked it a bit, and the rest is history.

I don’t own a fancy contraption like a biscuit cutter, so I used the rim of a glass and that worked just as well to shape the biscuits. They are a little smaller in diameter than I would’ve liked, however, so I think next time I’ll use a wider-rimmed object. But there was nothing wrong with smallish biscuits. Just more biscuits to go around, then.

Mostly for me.

Debrief: Nothing much. Just as mentioned above, if you want bigger biscuits, use a wider biscuit cutter. Otherwise, this dough is a dream to work with, and very easy to adapt to whatever your biscuit craving. Herbs? Great. Cheese? Sure. Anchovies? Eh, weird, but whatever. These babies can probably handle it.

Baking Powder Biscuits Adapted from the recipe found on the back of my Rumford Baking Powder container

Yields 8 to 12 biscuits

Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup whole wheat flour 3 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt Italian seasoning herbs or dried parsley, to taste (I used about 2 tsp) 6 tbsp chilled butter or shortening, cut into 1/4-inch cubes 2/3 cup milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flours, baking powder, salt and herbs. Cut in butter and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Add milk and mix until dough is soft and starts to pull away from the sides. Pour out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 30 seconds. Roll out dough, using a lightly floured rolling pin, to a 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter and place on baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly brown; serve warm.

Round Forty One — Apple Cobbler and Fluffy Biscuits

Apple Cobbler

I have to apologize for these photos. I know, they’re terrible. Let me reassure you though; I have plenty of excuses.

One: I was watching Glee while making this cobbler. It was the Britney Spears episode. My eyes were glued. It’s understandable, right? Right.

Two: It was nighttime. Duh. And I had a random, overpowering hankering for apple cobbler (mostly because I just worked out and had a raging appetite/sweet tooth attack, and we had about five pounds’ worth of fresh apples from the orchard that were begging to be covered in buttery goodness).

Three: I was so impatient to eat the cobbler/biscuit combination that the last thing I wanted to do was pause to take photos. But I didn’t want to be selfish and not share this with you, so… all that to say, this cobbler tastes loads better than it looks.

My week has been a lot like this. Hectic, erratic, speckled with cobbler and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Peanut Butter Cup, oh my) and buttery monkey bread and a cruel apple pie that I can look at forever but can’t eat until Thanksgiving. Hmph.

So, I apologize for you having to see the results of my craziness. But hey, at least I shared, right? Right.

Debrief: If using apples for this recipe (you can use 3 cups of any cobbler-appropriate fruit), make sure to use tart apples, like Granny Smith or McIntosh. I accidentally added in a Gala, and it was mushy and overly sweet.

Apple Cobbler (with a Fluffy Biscuits foundation) Courtesy of The Joy of Cooking

Yields one 8×8-inch pan of cobbler

Ingredients: 3 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples 2/3 cup sugar 1 tbsp all-purpose flour 1/2 the recipe for Fluffy Biscuits (below) 2 tbsp butter 3/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions: Turn on the TV; it’s Glee time. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Sit for five minutes watching Glee and wishing that Mr. Schuster would just let the kids sing Britney Spears! In a medium saucepan, heat apples, sugar and flour until boiling. Do not walk away from the kitchen at this point just because you hear “I’m a Slave 4 U.” Have ready half the recipe for Fluffy Biscuit Dough (below). Spread the dough on the bottom of a greased 8×8-inch square pan and cover closely with the hot fruit. Take a second to watch Glee cover another Britney song. Dot the fruit with the butter and sprinkle the cinnamon over the cobbler. Bake about a half hour. At this point, get a good chunk of Glee-watching in (though the Britney cameos could have been omitted, in my opinion. Just saying). Then, watch the sex riot ensue while enjoying a hefty plateful of this amazing cobbler. Repeat next week.

Fluffy Biscuit Dough recipe

Yields 24 1 1/2-inch biscuits (if just making biscuits) or 12 1 1/2-inch biscuits (if using the other half for the cobbler)

**Note: I didn’t make these biscuits this time. See above, Glee watching. Thus the lack of biscuit photos. Sorry, ya’ll. Next time.

Ingredients: 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1 tsp salt 3 tsp double-acting baking powder 1 tbsp sugar 4 to 6 tbsp chilled butter or shortening, or a combo of both 3/4 cup milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Add butter and make a well in the center. Add milk and stir until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead quickly, in about 8 to 10 folds. Roll out with a floured rolling pin to a desired thickness, and cut with a biscuit cutter dipped in flour. Brush the tops with milk or melted butter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake about 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.