Recipe

Super Sesame Buns

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Homemade sesame buns are SO WORTH IT.  There is a massive difference between fresh, soft homemade hamburger buns and the who-knows-how-old-these-are, what-is-even-in-these buns from the bread aisle in the store.

Super Sesame Buns

When these came out of the oven, I debated if tears were warranted.  They were so golden-brown, eye-pleasingly round and beautiful.

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I used to be so scared of any recipe that contained yeast.  I had quite a few bad experiences with the stuff-dough I worked long and hard on that never rose or was dense as an old piece of stale bread after baking.  But now, I can’t get enough of it.  I love the feeling of working with dough…kneading, forming it and watching it rise.  I feel a sense of pride when it works out, because I know it was a little extra work to make it but it paid off.

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A whole new world of delicious possibilities have opened up to me since I got over my fear of yeast.  These are a great starting point if you haven’t worked with a lot of yeasted dough before, because they’re easy and don’t take much effort to form them.  Plus they are so impressive when they come out of the oven that you will for sure feel a sense of pride!

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The first time I made these I used a muffin top pan as the original recipe calls for-you can do this if it’s easier for you, but I found the strange shape they formed after baking slightly off-putting.  Free-hand forming is definitely my preference.

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You can make a batch and throw some in the freezer to have homemade buns any time you need them.  I’ll throw a few recipes at you that specifically use these buns so you have even more of a reason to make them!  Now that you’ve had a chance to bathe in their beauty, make them for yourself and try holding back your tears.

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Super Sesame Buns

An easy recipe for homemade soft sesame buns!

  • Author: Amanda

Ingredients

BUNS:

  • 3/4 cup (170 g) lukewarm water (105 to 110°)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder, optional
  • 2-1/2 cups (326 g) all-purpose flour

TOPPING:

  • 1 large egg, plus a splash of cool water
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • Flaky sea salt

Instructions

To make the bun dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Mix, starting on low speed, and gradually increasing the speed to medium, until a soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes.  It will still be slightly sticky, but should pull off the side of the bowl when kneaded.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bring into a ball by hand, kneading a few times until the dough is no longer sticky.  Place in a lightly greased bowl, covered with a towel, to rise in a warm place for an hour; the dough will be doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten slightly to form a rough rectangle.  Cut into 6 pieces, each weighing approximately 3-1/2 to 4 ounces.  Roll each piece into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a greased hamburger bun pan, flattening the dough slightly with your hand.  Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, approximately 30 minutes.

Mix together the sesame seeds and a generous pinch of flaky sea salt in a small bowl.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg and water thoroughly so it is a homogenous mixture.  With a pastry brush, gently pat the egg wash on the top and sides of one bun; use the side of your mixing bowl to remove the excess egg wash from the brush before doing this.  Generously sprinkle the sesame seed mixture all over the bun.  Repeat with the remaining buns.

Towards the end of the proofing time, preheat the oven to 375°.  Bake the buns for 15 to 18 minutes, until they are golden brown and the sesame seeds are lightly toasted. Cool on a wire rack.

Notes

Inspiration: Seeded Hamburger Buns on kingarthurflour.com

 

Recipe

The Famous Baked Brownies

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I could look at these all day.  I’m going to make you look at them too.

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They’re just so fudge, and crackly, and beautiful.

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You know that feeling when you just KNOW you’re in the presence of perfection?  And it’s a marvel to behold?  That’s how I feel about these brownies.  The recipe comes from the hipster Brooklyn bakery, fittingly named, what else?  Baked.

Use the best chocolate you can find and afford and chop it up yourself (no chips here).  Don’t overbeat the eggs into the batter.  And whatever you do, DON’T OVERBAKE THESE BROWNIES.  You will not get that fudgy, rich, soft interior and you. will. regret. it.

The Famous Baked Brownies-4.jpgOprah loves them.  America’s Test Kitchen loves them.  Who are we to disagree?  (You won’t…they’re the best.)

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The Famous Baked Brownies

Fudgy, rich chocolate interior and a crackly crust…these might just be your new favorite brownies!

  • Author: Amanda
  • Yield: 9 to 12 brownies, depending on the size you like
  • Category: Brownies & Bars, Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark cocoa flour
  • 11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 2 sticks butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.

Place the chocolate, butter and espresso powder in a large glass bowl, set over a saucepan of gently boiling water; ensure the bottom of the glass bowl does not touch the water.  Stir the mixture occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth.  Turn off the heat, leave the bowl on the saucepan, and add the sugars, whisking until combined.  Remove the bowl from the pan.  Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture, whisking to combine.  Add the remaining 2 eggs and vanilla to the mixture and whisk again to combine.  Do not overmix the batter at this point or your brownies will not be soft and fudgy.

Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and use a spatula to fold the flour into the chocolate until mostly mixed, but with a little flour still visible.  This will ensure you don’t overmix the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread to the sides.  Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.  When a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it, remove the brownies from the oven.  Cut the brownies into squares to serve, either while warm (yes!) or after completely cooled.

Notes

Inspiration: The Baked Brownie, Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Recipe

Classic Spinach-Artichoke Dip

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Do we all need another recipe for spinach-artichoke dip?  I mean, c’mon…it’s not new, trendy, or pretty-looking.

The answer is YES.  YES, WE DO.  We can always use another recipe for this classic!  My all-time favorite recipe is this Spicy Spinach-Artichoke Dip, but this is a close second with a slightly different flavor profile…and a little quicker to make.

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This is a classic for a reason.  Spinach and artichokes are a pair meant to be together forever.

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Classic Spinach-Artichoke Dip

That classic, perfect Spinach-Artichoke Dip that you know so well!

  • Author: ammcfarl26
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
  • Category: Appetizers, Dips

Ingredients

  • One 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess moisture
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely minced
  • 14 ounces canned or frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, drained and coarsely chopped
  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more to thin if needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated mozzarella, reserving about 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan, reserving about 1 tablespoon
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the shallot, season with salt and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, cream, salt and pepper, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until warmed through and slightly reduced.  Remove from the heat and stir in the mozzarella and Parmesan until melted.  Season with paprika and cayenne pepper, to taste.  Add more cream if desired to thin the dip.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Sprinkle the top of the dip with the reserved mozzarella and Parmesan and place in the oven.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dip is bubbly and the cheese is melted.  Serve with crostini or tortilla chips.

Notes

Inspiration: Classic Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Mozzarella and Parmesan on epicurious.com

Recipe

Graduation Coleslaw

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This coleslaw was aptly named after it was served at many a graduation party, several years running.  Like buckets of this coleslaw.  This is my favorite coleslaw around, and a lot of people agree.  You may even convert a few haters to come over from the dark side!

The best part of this is you can adjust all of the seasonings to your taste-want it creamier?  Add a little more mayo!  Like it a little sweeter?  Add a little more brown sugar!  Like a bit more of a vinegary punch?  Add a little more Dijon or vinegar!  Want it spicy (like I do)?  Add more cayenne!  Be careful with those celery seeds though.  They are very strong and a little bitter so start off adding a little, taste, and add more if you want.  I strongly feel that they are an essential part of coleslaw, but you can absolutely omit if you despise them.

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My one piece of advice: you will absolutely, 100% think you do not have enough dressing for your coleslaw when you mix it all together.  Do not be tempted to significantly increase the proportions of the dressing or you will have a bowl of dressing with a few of vegetables swimming around in it.  The cabbage will wilt as it sits and give off quite a bit of juice, which will water down the dressing, thus increasing your overall dressing volume, thus making the perfect amount.  AND the perfect coleslaw.

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You should definitely plan to make this with Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork because it is the perfect pair.  OBVI.

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Then you can make sandwiches that look at delicious as these ones.

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Graduation Coleslaw

  • Author: Amanda
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
  • Category: Vegetable Sides

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon celery seeds, depending on your taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on your taste
  • One 16-ounce package coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, finely diced (or a mix of both!)
  • 1/2 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

Mix the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, cider vinegar, buttermilk, celery seeds, salt, pepper and cayenne in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to thoroughly combine, ensuring the sugar is dissolved.

Add the vegetables and toss to coat.  Cover, and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to combine.  Toss to mix again right before serving.

Notes

You may be tempted to add more dressing to this-DON’T DO IT!  As this sits, the cabbage will release some of its liquid and you will end up with the perfect amount of dressing.

Inspiration: Classic Coleslaw from this recipe on foodnetwork.com

Recipe

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

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Dr. Pepper is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE pop (soda, if you’re fancy or not from the Midwest) so it was a natural progression for me to try this recipe.  I saw this years ago on The Pioneer Woman’s website and was intrigued by the combination of pop and chipotle peppers to create this sweet and spicy mix that penetrates the meat and makes a delicious sauce when cooked down for hours with the pork.

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I love when pulled pork is so good that you don’t even need BBQ sauce.  This is THAT GOOD.  And it feeds a huge crowd!  The key to a wonderfully juicy, tender and melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork is to leave some of the small pieces of fat in the shredded meat.

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Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

  • Author: Amanda
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
  • Category: Pork

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • One 5- to 7-pound pork shoulder, cut into large chunks
  • 3 cups Dr. Pepper (2 cans)
  • Half of an 11-ounce can chipotle puree, or chipotles in adobo, finely minced or pureed in food processor, or more (or less) depending on your spice preference
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300°.

In a large Dutch oven, lay the onion slices on the bottom to form a bed for the pork.  Generously season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper.  Lay on top of the onion slices.  Combine the Dr. Pepper, chipotle pepper puree and brown sugar, stirring to mix.  Pour over the pork, ensuring most of the meat is submerged in the liquid.  Place the lid on the pot and transfer to the oven.  Cook for 3 to 4 hours, until your pork is tender and falls apart when shredded with two forks.  Let the pork cool slightly before shredding; discard any large pieces of fat.  Return to the cooking liquid and keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes

  • The key to a wonderfully juicy, tender and melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork is to leave some of the small pieces of fat in the shredded meat.

Inspiration: Spicy Pop Pulled Pork on foodnetwork.com

Recipe

Poblano-Chipotle Chicken Dip

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We’ve talked about my love of dips before, right?  I’m that person at any party that’s hovering over the crockpot, dipping like I own it.  (Let’s just be honest…I’m actually always just hovering by all the food at parties.)

I had a dip like this at a local restaurant and knew I had to come home and try to make it myself.  That’s kind of my M.O.  I got pretty close, to this deliciously spicy, chicken-filled dip.  Do your parties always include some cream cheese-chicken dip combo?  If so (and the answer is probably yes), make this one and be the hero of the party.

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Poblano-Chipotle Chicken Dip

  • Author: Amanda
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
  • Category: Appetizers, Dips

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • 2 large or 3 medium poblano peppers, cut in 1/4 x 1-inch strips
  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar, coarsely grated, reserving a small handful for topping
  • 8 ounces pepper jack cheese, coarsely grated
  • 3 tablespoons chipotle puree or finely chopped chipotle peppers
  • 5 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the chicken breasts on the pan.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken, until cooked through.  Allow to cool before removing the skin and shredding the meat with your hands or two forks.  Reduce the oven to 350°.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the poblano strips; season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until softened and the skin is blistered.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, chipotle puree, and green onions.  Mix to combine.  Stir in the poblano strips and shredded chicken.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to an oven-safe casserole pan, sprinkle with the reserved cheddar cheese and cook until bubbly and the cheese is melted.  Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before diving in.  Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.

Recipe

Ham and Cheese Pastry

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I’m going to give you a multi-tasker today.

Continuing with our appetizer theme for the Super Bowl…I present to you this delicious take on a ham and cheese sandwich, which makes an easy appetizer for a crowd (or a dinner for a crowd-see below).  There were so many hands coming in from all directions when I pulled this out of the oven at a party that I can’t even remember if I got a piece.

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Other times, we have those days where we look in our fridge and wonder what the heck we’re going to make for dinner after a long day of work.  If you prepare just slightly in advance and buy some ham and have a somewhat decently stocked pantry and fridge, you should have all the ingredients for this to whip on as an easy dinner with a light salad on the side.  I used a mixture of whole-grain and smooth Dijon because I love the spicy pop of the mustard seeds; use whatever you prefer.  This is a fancy take on a ham and cheese sandwich.

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Crispy, flaky, golden-brown puff pastry…nutty, melty Gruyere…salty ham?!  Yes, please!

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Ham and Cheese Pastry

Crispy golden-brown puff pastry, nutty, melty Gruyere and salty ham?!  Yes, please!

  • Author: Amanda
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
  • Category: Appetizers

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (recommended DuFour), defrosted
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard (preferably a mix of smooth and coarse-ground)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 1/2 pound black forest ham, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water for egg wash
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, to sprinkle over top

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment.

Lay 1 sheet of puff pastry on a floured counter and roll it out to a 10 x 12-inch rectangle.  Place it on the prepared sheet pan and brush with Dijon mustard, leaving a 1-inch border.  Sprinkle the chives over the mustard to help them stick.  Place a layer of ham and a layer of cheese, still leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the unfilled border with the egg wash.  Place the second sheet of puff pastry on the floured counter and roll it out to a 10 x 12-inch rectangle.  Place the second sheet on top of the pastry and fillings, lining up the edges and pressing together lightly to seal.  You can use a sharp knife to cut the edges of the puff pastry to make straight edges, if desired.  Brush the top with egg wash and cut a few slits in the top pastry to allow steam to escape.  Sprinkle the poppy seeds over top.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.  Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing.