Archive | September, 2011

Italian Sausage and Peppers…Pizza

28 Sep

Couldn’t just leave well enough alone, could I?  Nope.  I haven’t had sausage and peppers since I was a wee lass living with my parents, and I never realized just how much I missed it.  So, whilst browsing the meat section at the grocery store, I saw some lovely hot Italian sausages on sale: two packages for $7!  Let’s see, how do I rationalized buying this much sausage…I’ll freeze half, and I will try my very best not to won’t eat it all in one sitting.  And right when I got home, I diligently put one package in the freezer and the other in the fridge, just waiting to be made into this:Ohhh yeah, I’ll bet you can feel your arteries (not to mention your thighs) getting all huffy already.  Five sausages, two peppers, and two little onions makes a surprisingly large amount of food.  Okay, maybe not that surprising.  Anywho, this is one of those things I don’t like to use a recipe for, like most of my cooking (and now and then my baking).  Following is my “guide” to making sausage and peppers.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

Source: My Imagination/Memory/Know-how


  • 5 hot Italian sausages
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1-2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • Oil as needed
  • Garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, etc. to suit your tastes


In a large (and I do mean large…mine was precariously under-sized) saute/frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add sausages and cook, turning frequently to brown all sides, about 10 minutes.  Add onions and cook another 2 minutes, then add peppers and seasonings.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the sausages are cooked through and the vegetables are soft.  At this point I carefully removed and sliced each sausage, but you could serve them whole or cut in half on a roll or bun (like my mama used to do!).

That wasn’t so hard!  I froze about a third of this and ate another third for dinner and the next day’s lunch.  Yum.  I still had some leftovers, and few things make me as happy as turning leftovers into something pretty dang awesome.  Immediately I thought pizza.  This is yet another non-recipe recipe, so experiment and adapt it to your tastes!

Italian Sausage and Peppers Pizza 

Source: Yours truly, except for the Pizza Dough, which is from Brown Eyed Baker


  • Italian sausage and peppers (above, or your favorite recipe)
  • Pizza dough (recipe follows, or your fave)
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Pizza sauce (I used my trusty homemade marinara)
  • Cheese (I used mozzarella and Parmesan)
  • Any other toppings you’d like (mushrooms for me)

Preheat oven to 500.  Shape prepared dough into a 1/2 inch thick round and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or use a pizza stone if you’re feeling fancy…and have one).  Brush with olive oil, then top with pizza sauce, cheeses, and Italian sausage and peppers, along with any other toppings of your choice.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and bubbly.  Let cool a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Pizza Dough

Source: Brown Eyed Baker via Baking Illustrated, pages153-155

Makes enough for 3 medium pizzas

We find the food processor is the best tool for making pizza dough. However, only a food processor with a capacity of at least 11 cups can handle this much dough. You can also knead this dough by hand or in a standing mixer (see the variations that follow). Unbleached all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the resulting crust will be less crisp. If you want to make pizza dough in the morning and let it rise on the counter all day, decrease the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon and let the covered dough rise at cool room temperature (about 68 degrees) until doubled in size, about 8 hours. You can prolong the rising time even further by refrigerating the covered dough for up to 16 hours and then letting it rise on the counter until doubled in size, which will take 6 to 8 hours.


  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.

3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

Pizza Dough Kneaded by Hand
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Standing Mixer
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Butter Queen’s Notes:

  • I halved the pizza dough recipe because I only wanted one pizza.
  • This dough recipe is awesome…it does a great job explaining all the different ways you can go about making it.
  • I also used half whole wheat/half all-purpose flour in my dough, which seemed to make it a bit dense.  It was still good, but next time I’ll stick with the recipe.
  • Always, ALWAYS eat pizza with a sauce medley, and make sure at least one of those sauces is some type of ranch.  I chose light ranch (hey, I was having a chunky monkey sort of day when I bought that) and chili paste.  Then they kind of got all mixed together and delicious.  Ahhh, pizza perfection.  I only wish I’d had some ranch from this place.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

25 Sep

Okay.  Stay calm.  Try to contain yourself.  You read that right…Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake.  Is there a more perfect combination of ingredients in all existence?  Mmm…no.

My friend wanted to make something special for her man’s birthday, and she’s, well, a tad inexperienced in the baking department.  Naturally, when she came to me for cake ideas and my baking “expertise,” I jumped on it.  I sent her quite a few recipes, and she settled on this one (although I’m pretty sure the Cherpumple would have gone over VERY well).

So, we embarked on this day-long cake journey with coffee and Halloween movies (it’s never too early for Hocus Pocus and Sleepy Hollow), along with the Wisconsin Badgers kicking some South Dakota tail right across the street, including the masses of Badger fans.  I love Wisconsin.

After one minor hiccup (it’s easy to forget to buy baking soda!) and some Jimmy John’s, the cake came together beautifully, as you can see.  What are you waiting for?  Who needs an occasion to make something this amazing?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Adapted from Smells Like Home

For the Cake:

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
Peanut butter cup candy for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, and tap out the excess (we wanted three layers, so we used three pans, which shortened the baking time a bit…if you decide on three layers keep an eye on them!).  Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until it is thoroughly blended into the butter. Add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 portions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); mix only until each new batch is blended into the batter. Lastly, add the melted chocolate, folding it in with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the cake pans.

Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and turn them out of the pans to cool to room temperature.

For the peanut butter frosting:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in a bowl and mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work.  Add the cream and beat on low speed to incorporate, then beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

For the chocolate frosting (I sort of just threw this together to make the cake prettier):

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a bowl and mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work.  Blend in the melted, cooled chocolate.  Add the cream and beat on low speed to incorporate, then beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

To Assemble the Cake: Place one layer top side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Using the peanut butter frosting, frost the top of the layer, then top with the second layer.  If using three layers, repeat these steps once more.  Frost the top and sides of the cake. Using a piping bag fitted with a decorating tip, decorate the edges of the cake with the chocolate frosting.  Garnish with the peanut butter cups.  Prepare for a sugar coma.

Jalapeno Cheddar Bread

21 Sep

I feel like the blog title should be enough.  Jalapenos, cheese, and carbs.  I shouldn’t have to say anything else to persuade you to make this bread.  But I will, because it is ri-gosh-darn-diculously delicious!  I knew the moment I took this cheesy magnificent-ness out of the oven that it would become one of my all-time favorite things to make.  Okay, maybe I knew it when I saw the recipe.

I made this for a weekend trip during which we went canoeing.  We decided to use it for the sandwiches we packed for a long day on the river (after “sampling” half the loaf the night before, of course), and it was just amazing.  I scraped out basically all the seeds from the jalapenos to appease the picky palates, but if you enjoy some spice like I do, I would highly (highly, highly) recommend leaving in half (or more!) of the seeds.

Next time I will make two loaves at once.  It is just that good.  Try this bread plain or toasted, use it for sandwiches, dip it in chili or soup, have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all day, every day.

Jalapeno Cheddar Bread

Adapted from The Novice Housewife


  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 T. butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded (leave a few if you want some heat), and diced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used 2 cups)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper


1. Pour the yeast into a small bowl and add the warm water. Mix gently and let sit 5 minutes.

2. In a large bowl mix the butter, egg, and milk. Whisk. Add in the yeast and water mixture. Whisk again.

3. Add the salt, sugar, pepper, and flour to the liquid mixture and mix well.

4. Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead for ten minutes or until dough is smooth. Roll the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place-it should double.

5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and slowly knead the jalapenos and cheddar into the dough, a little at a time. If the dough becomes sticky add more flour (up to 1/4 cup).

6. Once the jalapenos and cheddar are mixed in, put the dough into a greased bread pan. Cover again with the towel and let rise an additional 2 hours.

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.

Butter Queen’s Notes:

  • As you can see from the picture, I topped my loaf with additional jalapeno slices and shredded cheese.

Harry Potter Party Food!

18 Sep

Since starting my job, where I have a decent amount of downtime, I’ve rediscovered how much I love reading for fun (textbooks zap that right out of you).  While making a list of books I wanted to read, I finally gave in to Harry Potter.  I borrowed all the books from a friend, and they quickly became a huge part of my summer.  As I write this, I am about 2/3 through the final book, and I HATE it when a series of books is over.  I desperately need want to find out what happens, but at the same time I want to prolong the ending as long as possible.  Ugh.

ANY-who, in my travels through the food blogiverse (is that a word?), I randomly came across something that made me as giddy as a kid with a cupcake.  Maybe that’s because it was a cupcake.  A Butterbeer Cupcake, to be exact.  With booze, even.  Oh yes.  And I thought to myself, gee, I can’t just make these for the heck of it (well, I could, but…), so maybe I’ll have a party for the sole purpose of making these cupcakes.  Best. Decision. Ever.

So, with the party being fully on, I was in search of other Potter-themed food.  I didn’t need to look any further: the same blog that featured the cupcakes also had a Sorting Hat made of pita bread.  Menu: check.  You lucky ducks get a twofer post.  Without further ado, here are my creations!

Butterbeer Cupcakes
Makes 18

Source: Cook Like a Champion via Amy Bites

For the cupcakes:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 T. butterscotch schnapps
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda

For the filling:
5 1/2 ounces butterscotch chips (half an 11 ounce package or a little less than a cup)
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup butterscotch filling
1 T. butterscotch schnapps
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
Splash of cream soda (as needed)

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350º and line cupcake pans with liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add both sugars and continue beating until well combined. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the cream soda and buttermilk. Mix until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full, then bake for 15-17 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the filling by combining the butterscotch chips and heavy cream in a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and fill each cupcake just until the filling comes to the top.

To make the frosting, cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the butterscotch filling, schnapps and salt and beat until well combined. On low speed, beat in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. Add cream soda as needed to thin the frosting. Frost cupcakes and drizzle with remaining syrup.

Butter Queen’s Notes:

  • You are required to use the gold cupcake liners.
  • The butterscotch ganache is sort of a pain in the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, and I would advise against filling the cupcakes with a pastry bag and tip like I did.  It was my last resort, and it was a MESS, as in, all over the floor, stepped in it, butterscotch footprints on the white carpet…do yourself a favor and get the squeeze bottle in advance.

Pita Bread

Source: Cook Like a Champion via Diamonds for Dessert

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water (80-90°F)
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cups all-purpose flour

Combine sugar and water in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and allow the mixture to proof for 10 minutes. Add in 3 cups flour, one cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Set aside for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. The sponge will get a stronger flavor the longer it sits. (I left mine out about 4 hours.) After the sponge has had time to sit, stir in the salt and olive oil. Stir in an additional 2 cups flour. Knead dough by hand for 8-10 minutes or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for 5 minutes. If the mixture is too moist, add flour in 1/4 cup increments until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. Place back in the large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise 2-3 hours, or until dough has doubled.

To make the Sorting Hat, preheat oven to 350º. Form a large cone, about 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide, out of aluminum foil. Punch down the dough and remove 2/3 of it, keeping the remaining third covered. Lightly flour a work surface and spread the dough out into a large circle so that it’s large enough to cover the foil cone. Spray the cone with cooking spray and cover it with the dough. Pinch the dough to create the eyes and mouth, and in various places to create wrinkles. Place face side up on a baking sheet.

Form the remaining 1/3 of dough into a 10 inch circle. Place on a baking sheet and use balls of foil to make the hat brim ruffle. Bake both pans for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and increase heat to 425º. Spray the face with nonstick cooking spray and stand upright. Place both pans back in the oven and continue to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack, then place the face on top of the hat bottom when ready to serve.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

13 Sep

With the slightly cool weather, I’ve been obsessed with kind of hooked on apples.  I can’t wait to go to an apple orchard and load up on an insane amount of apple-y goodness!  Since I’ve already made my trusty apple crisp, I thought I’d branch out and try a new recipe.  Enter these tasty treats.

Breakfast is supposedly the most important meal of the day, so why not make it delicious?  One of these puppies, along with some coffee (or this autumn magic in a box) makes a long day of work a lot easier to start.

I made these on a Friday night for a Sunday morning breakfast, so I followed the instructions for retarding the dough in the fridge.  They were still fabulous.  I also ended up freezing the frosted and completely cooled leftovers by wrapping them in foil then sealing them in a freezer bag.  When you’re ready to eat them, take them out of the freezer the night before, letting them thaw on the counter, then nuke them before eating.  This is a great option for those times when you have surprise guests or you just need a boost to get your morning started.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe ever-so-slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Makes 8-12 large cinnamon rolls or 12-16 smaller rolls


Cinnamon Rolls:
6½ T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
5½ T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3½ cups flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 cup plus 2-4 T. whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature

1½ T. unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 T. plus 1 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

4 oz. cream cheese
1 T. unsalted butter
3 T. caramel sauce
1 T. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar


In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Mix in the egg until incorporated.  Mix in the flour, yeast and milk until a dough forms.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed, about 8 minutes until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.  (You may need to add a little extra flour or liquid to achieve this texture.)  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  To make the caramelized apples, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Mix until the apples are evenly coated.  Cook about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon to blend; set aside.

Mist a work surface with spray oil.  Roll it out into a rectangle with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the dough with flour if needed to keep it from sticking (about 12 x 14 inches for larger rolls or 9 x 18 inches for smaller rolls).  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix to blend.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the surface of the dough.  Evenly distribute the caramelized apples over the top of the dough.  Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon sugar spiral as you roll.  Pinch the seam shut, and with the seam side down, slice the log into your desired number of rolls.  Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing the rolls about ½-1 inch apart.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 75-90 minutes, until the rolls have grown into each other and have nearly doubled in size.  At this point, the rolls can also be covered and retarded in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Pull the pan out of the refrigerator 3-4 hours before baking to let the dough proof.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool in the baking about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

To make the glaze, combine the cream cheese and butter in a small heatproof bowl and microwave in 15-20 second intervals until it is warm enough to whisk together.  Whisk in the caramel sauce, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.  Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.   Swirl the glaze over the top of the cinnamon rolls.  Let cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving.


Welcome and Apple Crisp

6 Sep
Welcome to Butter Queen! My first post is an ever-delicious 
and always amazing fall dessert, and one of the first things 
I learned to make growing up: apple crisp. Just the name makes 
me drool. And when that first whiff of cinnamon floats out 
of the oven and into the rest of the apartment? Boy, 30 
minutes starts to seem like FOR-EV-ERRR (cue Squints from the 
Sandlot). Please excuse the God-awful quality of the pictures.
My camera has seen better days. Like the 90s.  Also, I'm still 
getting the hang of blogging/html/all that jazz.  Bear with me.

My mom never follows a very strict recipe for apple crisp, so this is

more a general outline than a straight-up recipe. That being said, this

apple crisp is very forgiving and can stand some experimentation (other

fruits, spices, extracts, etc.). So, once you’ve got this down, let

your creativity run free!

Apple Crisp

Source: My Mama 

4-6 baking apples (I used Granny Smith this time around)

1 stick butter, room temperature (real butter, people)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat since I had it on hand)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash, peel (or don't!), and 
slice apples.  In a large bowl, combine apples with some 
cinnamon and nutmeg.  Transfer apples to a 9x9 baking dish.

2. In a separate bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, oats, 
flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.  Using your (clean!) 
hands, combine until mixture is incorporated and crumbly.  
Pour on top of apples and pat down, evenly covering the apples.

3. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until top is slightly 
browned and feels crisp.  Let cool at least 10 minutes.  
Serve warm (preferably with ice cream or whipped cream!).