Well haven’t I been a bad Daring Baker? I’ve sat out the last two challenges but I’m back. June’s challenge was chosen by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’?. The recipe they chose was a danish braid which sounded pretty intimidating at first. After reading through the recipe I realized that it’s a pretty basic pastry dough but then you fold in a butter block, which is just butter and flour. It ended up being really easy and really fun, although all the turning and folding left me a little confused.

Braid
We were given the option of using an apple filling recipe that was provided to us but I decided to go with something a little more exciting. So I bought rhubarb for the first time and decided to get over my fear of the funny looking stuff. I ended up making an amazing strawberry and rhubarb filling but I can’t for the life of me remember exactly how I did it.

Braid
I also softened a block of cream cheese, mixed in some powdered sugar, and spread that out over the dough before I added the filling. It turned out great!

To see the full recipe, head over to Kelly’s blog. And check out the blogroll to see all the different variations the DBs came up with.

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It’s gotten far too easy for me to fall into a lunch rut. The kid eats pretty much the same thing everyday: a slice of ham or turkey, green beans, peas, carrots, or a combination of the 3, and a piece of fruit. Me? I usually skip lunch because I never know what to eat. So my new goal is to make a couple lunches each week. Actual meals, not PB&J.

Thai salad

My first attempt was this oh-so-pretty Crunchy Thai Noodle Salad. It was colorful and fun and I’m sure most people would really like it. One of the main ingredients of the dressing is sesame oil and I always seem to forget that I hate sesame oil. I love the smell of it, but I hate the taste. Weird, right? I think I’m going to play around with it and see if I can find a good substitution that’s not so over-powering.

That being said, the husband shocked me by eating 2 huge bowls of it. Normally he turns his nose up at anything that doesn’t have a large piece of meat sticking out of it. Even the kid ate a bowl of it.

Crunchy Thai Noodle Salad

from Vegetarian Classics

Ingredients

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the salad:
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 scallions, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

Instructions

  1. Cook noodles until al dente. Drain thoroughly and rinse the noodles under cold running water. Place noodles in a very large serving bowl.
  2. In a medium sized bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour the dressing on the noodles and toss well. Mix in all remaining ingredients except peanuts. Let the noodles sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with the chopped peanuts sprinkled on top.
http://fakeginger.com/crunchy-thai-noodle-salad/

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I think this was my favorite TWD week yet! Madam Chow was up to bat and chose Dorie’s Pecan Honey Sticky Buns. The day before the recipe was announced, my husband and I sat on the couch together practically drooling over the picture of these sticky buns in Dorie’s book so I squealed with delight when I saw the announcement.

The sticky buns start with a brioche dough which I’ve never made before. It wasn’t really hard to do, but I thought my poor stand mixer was going to explode. After 10 minutes of mixing, my dough still looked more like batter so I ended up adding quite a bit more flour to it. So that caused me to worry that I’d really messed up the dough but it rose like a champ. I punched it down every 30 minutes for 2 hours just like Dorie said and was able to roll it out with no problems the next morning. After I filled and rolled the dough up, I had to stick it in the freezer for a few minutes because the rolls weren’t keeping their shape as I tried to cut them. Worked perfectly.

These sticky buns did not disappoint. They were gooey and sticky and delicious right out of the oven. I don’t usually like honey and found it to be a bit overpowering at first, but after my 4th sticky bun (yeah…) I really started to like it. My only complaint is that after I put them in the fridge they were really hard to separate and I broke them all in half trying to get one. By that point, though, I wasn’t so much worried about appearance as I was wanting to shove them in my mouth.

I see these become a regular in our weekend breakfast routine and I plan on telling everyone I know about them. Mmm. To see the rest of the sticky buns check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll.

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I’ll admit that the reason I was drawn to this recipe when I saw it on Elle’s New England Kitchen is because the recipe specifically calls for Frank’s Hot Sauce and I have a slight obsession with it. And then I read more and saw that the recipe won the Royal Foodie Joust. And the sauce has mango! I had to try them.

The wings were really good. I think I would’ve preferred baking them without sauce and then coating them but the husband loved them. The recipe included a mango lime cream dipping sauce. Neither one of us liked it. It was good on its own but not with chicken.

Mango Buffalo Wings

Ingredients

For the wings:
20 chicken wings
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce (or another hot sauce, if you prefer)
1/2 cup pureed mango
1/4 cup melted butter or canola oil
For the Mango Lime Cream Dipping Sauce:
1 1/2 cups pureed mango
1/2 cup sour cream
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 tsp brown sugar
3/8 tsp cardamom

Instructions

    To make the wings:
  1. Heat oven to 400F. In a large ziptop bag, combine flour and dry spices.
  2. Add the wings to the bag, seal, and toss to coat.
  3. Place the wings on a plate and chill in the fridge for about 30-35 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, mix the pureed mango and hot sauce. Stir in melted butter or oil.
  5. To make the sauce:
  6. Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and process until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
http://fakeginger.com/mango-buffalo-wings/

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I’ve been dying to try Israeli couscous since I first learned of it’s existence. I finally found some at The Fresh Market about a month ago and it’s been sitting in my pantry ever since. I had no idea what to do with it! I finally settled on a recipe I saw over on Starting from Scratch that includes pistachios and dried apricots. I probably should have thought about the fact that I hate dried apricots but her pictures were too pretty to think negative thoughts like that.

Needless to say, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t just the apricots though. I didn’t like the texture of the couscous. It was just an inbetween size that I didn’t like. It wasn’t small like regular couscous but it wasn’t big like normal pasta. The husband and the kid both gobbled this up so I’m sure a person with a normal relationship with food would love it.

Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 cups Israeli couscous
2 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
zest from 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, chopped to the size of raisins
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
juice from 1/2 lime

Instructions

  1. Preheat a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Place the garlic and oil in the pan and saute for 1 minute. Add the couscous, raise the heat to medium, and stir pretty constantly for 4 to 5 minutes; the couscous should start to toast. Add the water, cinnamon stick, cumin, cardamom, pepper, salt, and lime zest. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat again to as low as possible and cover. In about 10 minutes, most of the water should have been absorbed. Add 2 T of the mint, and the apricots, pistachios, and lime juice. Stir, cover again, and cook for 5 minutes more. At this point, the water should be thoroughly absorbed. Remove the cinnamon stick, fluff the couscous with a fork, garnish with the remaining mint, and serve.
http://fakeginger.com/israeli-couscous-with-pistachios-and-apricots/

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