Friday, May 16, 2008

Monkey Bread

I have met many people who claim to have a great recipe for monkey bread. Their recipe usually involves Pillsbury biscuits and either a cinnamon and sugar mixture or pudding mix. This is not one of those recipes for monkey bread. This is the monkey bread I grew up eating. Its simple, its delicious, and it doesn't involve getting your fingers sticky trying to eat it.

Start with:
2 cups very warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 T salt
2 T active dry yeast
Combine the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and let stand for 5 minutes to let the yeast begin working.
Next add:
2 eggs (the recipe calls for them to be beaten, but I just put them in and stir them to break the yolks up)
3 cups of flour
Stir with a wooden spoon until combined (the batter will be lumpy)
Lastly add:
1/4 cup oil (I use canola)
3 cups of flour
Stir again with a wooden spoon until well combined (again...it will be a little lumpy)
Let the batter stand in a warm place until it is risen double (about 45 minutes or so). The batter is sticky, so you can't punch it down. I usually just use the wooden spoon and give it a stir or two. Let rise a second time.
After the second rising, I melt one stick of butter in the microwave and then I get a floured surface ready, sprinkle about a half cup or so of flour over the top of the dough, flour my hands and pull a large piece of dough off. There is no kneading involved in this recipe. I get my piece of dough somewhat dusted with flour, and use my hands to spread it evenly at about 3/4 to 1" thick. I use a Tupperware cup to cut circles out of the dough. (You could also use a round biscuit cutter, or whatever you have that will work). Dip each circle of dough in the melted butter and place it in a bundt pan. I do this placing each subsequent piece of dough leaning over on the previous one so that the edge of the circle of dough is against the bottom of the pan. As the pan gets fuller you will have to put the dough in between other pieces. I just pull them aside so that I can see the bottom of the pan for my new piece of dough. Repeat this process until the pan is full and you run out of dough (once my bundt pan is full if I have dough left I will often use about ten pieces of dough and fill a bread pan with the last of the dough.) Let the dough in the pan rise for about 30 minutes. Then bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. The result is a nice pull apart bread that tastes great. The kids love it because it doesn't have to be sliced, and its fun to eat. I love it for those reasons, and because I don't have to knead it or get my kitchenaid mixer dirty making it. I have also made this recipe using the same ingredients, but using half wheat flour. Then instead of doing the butter dipping step I just take half the dough and form it loosely into a loaf, place each half in a bread pan, rise and bake. That method makes two nice loaves of wheaty tasting bread that you don't have to knead and since you leave the butter part out it has less fat as well.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Dip

My sister-in-law brought this to a holiday party a few years ago. It's addictive, simple, and delicious! We make it for football season around here, and I also make it for parties and get-togethers. It's very popular at potlucks!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)--as many as you need; 4 serves about 15 people
  • Frank's Original Wing Sauce--hot sauce also works well
  • 8 oz of cream cheese (for every 4 breasts)
  • One bottle of blue cheese dressing--ranch is also a great substitute, but get straight ranch, not flavored bacon ranch or anything--for every 4 breasts
  • Shredded Mozzarella or other white cheese--pepper jack is yummy, but hot!

    Boil chicken until cooked completely, shred. Add bottle of wing sauce to chicken; marinade at least 1/2 hour or overnight (ideal). Simmer cream cheese and dressing over low heat until creamy. Layer chicken at the bottom of an oven safe casserole dish or bowl, coat mixture in dressing mix. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top; bake at 375 degrees or until cheese is slightly brown around the edges.

    Serve warm with tortilla chips (I like the scoop kind). Single recipe will serve 8 hungry adults or serve as an appetizer for up to 20 people. Can be stored for up to a week in the fridge--reheat before serving.

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