Monday, November 28, 2011

How to properly FREEZE your baked goods!

The holidays create a BUSY schedule for all of us. From cocktail mixers, gift shopping, white elephant parties, to hosting events, it is NO WONDER people do not have a ton of extra time to bake something special for the holidays.
The answer: Freeze your baked goods or dough. Is it ok? YES. Many restaurants and professional food services freeze, not only baked goods, but meats, proteins, and other food items.

How do you properly prepare something to freeze?
-Place whatever you are freezing in a parchment lined pan. Double plastic wrap the pan, so no air will be exposed to your product.
EXAMPLE: Freezing Chocolate chip cookie dough.
-Make your cookie dough.
-In a brownie-size pan, line it with parchment paper.
-Scoop your cookie dough into the parchment lined pan.
-Double wrap your pan.
-Place in freezer.
-Use this method for freezing cookies also.


In the terms of sweet stuff, FREEZE:
-Cookie dough: (From basic chocolate chip to icebox cookies, many doughs can be frozen!)
-Baked cookies: You can also freeze baked cookies in large plastic bags! Make sure your cookies are COOLED before freezing.
-Cakes/Cupcakes: Like with cookies, make sure they are COOLED before freezing.
-Breads (all types): Always plastic wrap your bread loaf!

Then, how to do your properly thaw?
-With all ALREADY BAKED items, just unwrap the pan and let it sit on your kitchen counter. Room temperature will "thaw" your frozen baked items.
-With raw cookie dough: You can baked frozen cookie dough, but it will take a longer baking time versus raw cookie dough.
Want raw cookie dough, but have frozen dough? You can leave it at room temperature until it is thawed (this will take a couple hours) or pull the pan from the freezer and put in the fridge overnight.

How long will a frozen baked good last?
-2 weeks max, then the baked item will start losing quality and flavor. It will become "freezer" burnt.
-In the fridge: 4 days, then it will lose quality.
TIP: Be weary if your have aromatic food items (like onion, garlic, celery, spicy foods, etc) in your fridge and/or freezer. Their intense flavor may "infuse" your baked good product. Thus, it is always a good idea to plastic wrap your pan very well! If you do have aromatic foods in your fridge/freezer AND baked goods, place your baked goods in a air-tight container AND plastic wrap for extra protection.

Will a frozen items be as wonderful as a freshly baked item?
Nope. Nothing can COMPARE to an item that is FRESHLY baked from the oven that day. BUT you can still make, bake, freeze, and properly thaw a delicious baked good.
Just make sure there is no freezer burn on it!

Still don't have time for baking? Check out local bakeries and markets for homemade treats and delights. Don't be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, or co-worker.

Happy Baking! (and freezing!)
-SC

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What to do with your leftovers! My TOP 3 TIPS!

I love Thanksgiving! WHY: it is a holiday dedicated to food, family, caring, and feeling blessed. With all the new and traditional dishes being served, it is a PROMISE that you will have leftovers.

Read my top 3 tips on what to do with your Turkey Day extras:

1) Cranberry Sauce:
This is my favorite leftover. Why? You can add cranberry to so many different baked goods to get a nice holiday flavor.
*Add it to a pastry cream for a cranberry cream filling for a chocolate cake.
*Add it to a plain muffin mix for cranberry muffins.
*Add some more sugar and water to it, to make a basic jam for pancakes and waffles.

2) Rolls:

No matter what type of roll you had with your Turkey day dinner, there is a great use for them.
*Chop them up for homemade crutons.
*Make bread pudding.
*Make mini turkey sandwiches.
*If it was a plain, soft roll, make small french toasts!

3) Turkey:
Turkey is very universal and has many uses for leftover dishes. Of course, you could always just eat it straight!
*Chop it up with some leftover veggies for a turkey salad.
*Make turkey sandwiches and wraps.
*Make turkey soup.
*Make a turkey casserole with all of the Thanksgiving leftovers.

The best part about having leftovers is enjoying a great meal days after the holiday. Not only is Thanksgiving about delicious food, it is about being with people who care and respect you. I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Cooking!
-SC

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Perfect Pumpkin Pie!

Thanksgiving is (eek!) next week! Having a complete meal with a juicy Turkey, moist dressing, and fluffy garlic mashed potatoes will make your memorials last with your loved ones. What is the BEST way to end a delicious Thanksgiving meal: classic pumpkin pie. And guess what: it is super easy to make even if you do not bake on a regular basis!

Kimm's Pumpkin Pie: Yields one 8-inch pie...for one....or two. (Depends on how hungry you are!)

DIRECTIONS:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-Have one 8-inch unbaked pie shell ready. (You can buy it store-made or make your own.) Make sure it is in your chilled!

-In a small mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together:
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon all-spice

-In a medium size bowl, whisk together 2 eggs.
-Add 15oz (1 can) unsweetened pumpkin puree.
-Add 12 fl. oz (1 can) evaporated milk.
-Add the sugar and spice mix.
-Stir together with spatula until the mixture is uniform.

-Pour into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 15 minutes.
-After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 minutes more.
-Cool for 2 hours, at room temp, before serving.
-Served with whipped cream. Enjoy!

REMEMBER: You don't always have to serve a classic made pumpkin pie. I make an Apple-Pumpkin Pie that my family loves and enjoys. If you are hosting a large party, you could have everyone bring a different cookie and have a cookie exchange. Or, bake pumpkin cake with a ginger cream cheese frosting. Maybe an assortment of brownies and blondies will hit your hunger cravings!

What ever you are baking and cooking next Thursday, be sure to enjoy the food, wine, and company.

Happy Cooking!
-SC