bluegeek: (not be tired)
[personal profile] bluegeek
So I have had quite the busy/crazy early weekend (major preparation for a LARP feast I assist in the throwing of on Saturday, so Thursday through the wee hours of Sunday were rather hectic), and then the crash afterwards which wound up with me relaxing on Sunday, sleeping a full night through sunday night, and then STILL doing far more napping than being awake today. And even in the few awake periods today, I wasn't exactly operating with all cylinders.

I am hoping that this is just my body's way of recovering lost energy and such, rather than the early stages of the death-blargh that everyone and their brother seem to have developed and are readily sharing with everyone they know.

Anyways, I need to do a few days of happiness catch-up, starting off with a few of the recipes that were prepared for the feast the other day.

Oreo truffles

8oz cream cheese, softened
1pkg (16oz) oreos (not double stuffed)
Approx. 16oz baking chocolate or chocolate chips, melted

1. Separate 9 cookies and crush in a food processor, chopper, or in plastic bags using a rolling pin. (This is the first time I've had a food processor to make these with and I loved the ease of it) Set aside.
2. Crush the remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs as well and transfer to a medium-sized bowl or bowl of your stand mixer.
3. Add softened cream cheese and mix together until well blended.
4. Form dough into balls approx. 1-inch in diameter and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
5. Freeze balls until firm (this is optional, but will help when it comes to dipping)
6. Melt your baking chocolate or chocolate chips using a double boiler/two saucepan method/whatever your use for the melting of chocolate and maintaining of meatiness.
7. Removing a few balls form the freezer at a time, dip into the melting chocolate to cover the surface of the ball and then transfer to another parchment lines baking sheet. Some people use the forks method (balance the ball on the lines of a couple of forks to allow for as much coverage with chocolate, and allows excess chocolate to run off through the tines) and other use the toothpick/skewer method (wherein you stab each ball and use that for dipping). Do not worry about imperfections or if you have an uncovered bit still showing thanks to your dipping method of choice because we will deal with that later.
8. While the chocolate is still melty, sprinkle some of the extra cookie crumbs you had set aside over them, covering any dipping imperfections. This is easier if you have another set of hands helping you bake, but is possible solo as well. My method at this juncture is often to refrigerate half the dipped balls while working on the remainder and once I'm done dipping, swap out the freshly dipped tray for the firmed up tray and then re-dip the tops of the firm ones in the remaining chocolate and then dipping into the cookie crumbs then. This is my method because when I first started I used the skewer method and had the skewer-holes in the top of the truffles that needed to be hidden.
9. Refrigerate finished truffles on the baking trays until firm and then store in a container in the fridge.

Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese

2 cups uncooked pasta (spirals, penne, shells, etc) (or gluten-free alternative)
1 can artichoke hearts
1/2 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour or rice flour
2 cups whole milk (or, if using skim milk, thicken a bit more with extra flour)
2 cups shredded cheese
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

Optional Crumb Topping
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cook pasta a couple minutes shy of package directions, drain and transfer to casserole dish (we used an 8x8in dish).
3. Press thawed spinach in a strainer using your fingers or a wide spoon to press out as much water as possible so you don't make your mac and cheese soggy.
4. Squeeze out any moisture from your artichokes and then chop or slice them them up, depending on how big you want your pieces to be.
5. Mix the spinach and artichokes into the pasta, breaking up any clumps, along with the lemon juice and garlic.
6. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
7. Add flour and whisk over low heat for one minute.
8. Add milk and heat on medium heat until it thickens, whisking constantly.
9. Once thickened, remove from heat and whisk in shredded cheese.
10. Season with salt and pepper to taste (actually taste test it now, so it's to your liking)
11. Pour your cheese sauce over your pasta and mix it all in.
12. If you want a crumb topping, mix the melted butter, parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle over your mac and cheese.
13. Bake in your preheated oven for 35 minutes, broil for the last minute or so for a little more color, if desired.

Onion Focaccia Bread

1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (~110 degrees Fahrenheit)
1/2 cup olive oil, divided (plus extra for greasing pans and saran wrap)
1 1/2 tbsp salt
4-4 1/2 cups flour
1 medium onion
fresh rosemary
coarse sea salt

1. Proof yeast by sprinkling it over the warm water and sugar and letting it sit for 10 minutes in a warm place. It will get foamy.
2. Slowly mix the flour, salt, and half the olive oil, a bit at a time, in with your yeast mixture, then add your onion. This can be done by hand or using a stand mixer with a bread hook. This will create a soft, shaggy dough that is slightly sticky. You may not have to use all your flour. Knead for at least 10 minutes.
3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 20 minutes,
4. Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet (or, alternatively, two pie plates or cake pans) with parchment paper and brush paper with olive oil. Turn out the dough onto your baking sheet (or divide into both pie/cake pans) and press it into shape with your fingers so it is approx. 1in. thick all around. Cover in oiled plastic wrap and let rise for ~1 hour.
5. Remove plastic wrap (carefully, you'll use it again) and, using your fingers, make deep indentations in your dough, nearly to the bottom of the pan. Drizzles the rest of your olive oil (1/4c) across the top and then let dough rise again, covered, for approx. 30 min.
6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Sprinkle top of dough with seal salt and fresh rosemary leaves and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is a golden color.
8. Enjoy!

For this weekend's feast, I used this dough to make Italian-style sandwiches and it was super yummy.
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