Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bacon Jalapeño Popper Dip




I'm not going to lie. I love spicy cheese filled jalapeno poppers. I love them. If they wouldn't cause serious gastric distress...I'd eat them every meal.  The heat alone will kill you if you eat them to fast...but I love them. It's wrong. It's creeping over the edge of evil obsessive love affairs. Yes. I know. I will probably live to regret eating them, but my goodness, they are so hot.  Now add bacon and make it into a dip. Freak. Freak. Freak! 

Several years ago at the start of this blog, in a land far far away when we were just starting out and didn't have more than  a dozen recipes up, Evil Tara sent me an email with this recipe for Jalapeño Popper Dip. She must know how weak I am. Weak and pathetic in the sight of the poppers. Yes, imagine my genuine level of utter adoration at the mention of a hot appetizer dip that mimics the flavor of those evil hot cheese fat bombs. I had to make it right away! So, as the Evil Think tank session arrived with Evil Tara, this dip was part of the culminating events. I must say...it was just as evil as the recipe made it out to be.


 Yes. I am hopelessly in love forever. 10 years later, the addition of Bacon is a long-standing traditional Petersen Family upgrade.  You see why? Right? BACON!  I hope you'll join me in making this dip one of your holiday favorites! So here's the recipe.  You're welcome. 

Bacon Jalapeño Popper Dip
2- 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1- 4 ounce can chopped green chilies
1- 4 ounce can sliced jalapeños- double if you like heat


1 cup real bacon crumbles
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


In a food processor add the first 6 ingredients and process until smooth. You do not need to drain either can of peppers. Spread the dip into a greased 2-quart casserole. In a bowl mix bacon crumbles and the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese... Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the dip and bake in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes. You want the top to get browned and the dip to be heated through and bubble gently on the edges. Do not overheat this dish or the mayonnaise with separate and you will have a grease puddle in your dip. Serve with Buttery crackers or a sliced French baguette. Serves 8-10.


There you go!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Sticky Bun Mix and Gift Kits


Gifts of Good Taste never go out of Style

During the month or two previous to the Christmas season, I spend a lot of time making Gifts of Impeccable Taste Mixes and Chef Tess 52 Method Jar Meals to give to friends and family. Don't you wish you lived closer to me?  Today I'm sharing a new mix recipe for sticky buns! I'm so excited!  I don't know if that's a blessing or a curse, having amazing buns ingredients on-hand for whenever the urge to have sticky sweet potato buttermilk caramel pecan rolls overcomes your better judgement...but I'm thinking it is a blessing. You know, like chocolate is a blessing? Oh...and cheesecake is a blessing. Oh...count your blessings! One sticky bun, two sticky buns, three...mrfllrh brrunnns (stop counting with your mouth full). If you want to make the sticky buns without using a mix you can see my evil-genius post Pumpkin Spiced Peach Sticky-Buns-o-Glory. It works magnificently well.  I love to give out baking kits to busy families. It gives them an excuse to bake with the kids without having to measure ingredients. 



My practical side takes over because I usually use an empty can from one of my many Thrive adventures as the containment unit (oh stars...I just sounded like a science geek) for the kit.
Decorate it however you like. Today I just tied a cute ruffly Christmas apron around the can and just added a note inside with baking directions. 

Chef Tess' Sweet Potato Buttermilk  Roll Dough Mix

4 cup Artisan Bread Flour or Panhandle Milling  whole wheat blended flour
1T tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar 
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup powdered butter 

To Prepare Dough You will Add:
1 3/4 cups water (cool to the touch)

Spiced Sugar Smear Mix:
1/2 cup powdered butter 
1/2 cup sugar
2T Cheftessbakeresse Wise Woman of the East Spice blend or 1 T cinnamon and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

To Prepare Smear you will add:
3T water to this mix and spread inside the cinnamon rolls

Sticky Bun Cream Caramel Glaze mix:
3/4 cup  brown sugar 
1/2 cup  powdered butter 
2T buttermilk powder

1 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts 
Prepare you will add:
3T water

Directions:
1. Combine everything in the dough mix in one-gallon size bowl or mixer. I like that. Knead 5 minutes by hand or 3 minutes in a mixer on medium setting. This is a less developed dough as far as gluten is concerned.
Form into a ball and place in a bowl covered with plastic or a lid for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

2. Take out of the bowl and place on a floured table or countertop. On a lightly floured counter top, roll into a rectangle, 2 feet long by one foot wide. It will be about 1/2 inch thick. Make sure you lift the dough a couple times and dust underneath with more flour so it doesn't stick to the table.

3. Prepare the smear by adding 3T water to the smear mixture. Spread the smear over the dough in a light coating. Leave about 1 inch on the ends and sides that don't have butter and/or sugar mixture. It will help the rolls seal better.

4. Combine the caramel topping ingredients and heat in a saucepan with 3T hot water, just until the sugar is dissolved, do not boil longer than 2 minutes.

5. Pour nut caramel mixture into a 9 inch by 13-inch casserole pan or divide among individual jumbo muffin pan.
Place rolls in the pan,  1 inch apart (or just in each muffin compartment). Now...lightly mist the tops of the rolls with oil and cover with a loose fitting piece of plastic wrap (or lid). You are going to have to raise the rolls completely, about 1 1/2  hours.

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and invert onto a serving dish immediately, using caution to not let the hot caramel coating burn your skin.

More detailed Directions...

Baking Directions:
Combine everything in the dough mix in one-gallon size bowl or mixer with 1 3/4 cup cool water. Knead 5 minutes by hand or 3 minutes in a mixer on medium setting. This is a less developed dough as far as gluten is concerned.


Form into a ball and place in a bowl covered with plastic or a lid for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

 On a lightly floured counter top, roll into a rectangle, 2 feet long by one foot wide. It will be about 1/2 inch thick. Make sure you lift the dough a couple times and dust underneath with more flour so it doesn't stick to the table. Prepare the smear mix by adding 2T water to the smear mixture. Spread the smear over the dough in a light coating. Leave about 1 inch on the ends and sides that don't have butter and/or sugar mixture. It will help the rolls seal better.
Now roll them up tightly. Pinch seam tightly. Slice the roll into 12 sliced pieces.

Combine the caramel topping ingredients and heat in a saucepan with 3T hot water, just until the sugar is dissolved, do not boil longer than 2 minutes.

Pour nut caramel mixture into a 9 inch by 13-inch casserole pan or divide among individual jumbo muffin pan.

 Place rolls in the pan,  1 inch apart (or just in each muffin compartment).

Now...lightly mist the tops of the rolls with oil and cover with a loose fitting piece of plastic wrap (or lid). You are going to have to raise the rolls completely, about 1 1/2  hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and invert onto a serving dish immediately, using caution to not let the hot caramel coating burn your skin.

There you go!


Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Grand New Adventures: National TV, Food Judging, and Food Expos

 I realize that it has been a whirlwind 6 months. Rapid changes, I dare say..."explosive" changes have been happening in my life and I'm a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of the blessings! For those who have been with me through some of the tearful challenges of the last few years and sent so much love, prayers and support, I cannot even express how much that has meant to me and my little family.

 In March, Panhandle Milling had a booth at the Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.  I was able to do a few segments with  Culinary TV 's Host Bill Rogers. Culinary TV is on cable with 48 Million viewers nationwide (see channel guide here  ). The pizza expo was bustling with thousands of exited pizza enthusiast, business owners, and Bill is dear friends with my boss Tim Devey. It was an honor to be part of the show.

Shortly following that event, Bill connected me with the owner of Fire Within Woodfire Ovens who runs the only Wood Fire University in the country in Denver, Colorado. They invited me to attend their Wood Fired University in July as an instructor.

Shortly following the Pizza Expo, I spent a much needed week with my Dad fishing in Utah. It is probably one of my favorite ways to renew my soul and get back to nature. Mostly because I get to be with my dad.


Then, I was off to Lockhart, Texas to judge their regional baking contest.


People think it's really fun to be a baking contest judge. Most of the time, I would agree, but after about 5 different kinds of cookies you start to do a  little of this...





A few days later I was able to go to Atlanta, Georgia for the first time and be a judge for the National Culinary Competition for the FCCLA teams. This was especially epic for me because I was going to be there with the President of American Culinary Federation and Industry Leaders from all over the country. The Leadership Conference for FCCLA was 3 days long and I got to spend time with the Home Baking Association teaching about baking as well.

For those who are not familiar with the FCCLA "family, Career and Community Leaders of America is a nonprofit national career and technical student organization for young men and women in Family and Consumer Sciences education in public and private school through grade 12. Everyone is part of a family, and FCCLA is the only national Career and Technical Student Organization with the family as its central focus. Since 1945, FCCLA members have been making a difference in their families, careers, and communities by addressing important personal, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education.
Today over 160,000 members in more than 5,300 chapters are active in a network of associations in 49 states, in addition to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico."


Seriously. Judging people is cool.


A quick trip back from Atlanta to Denver to bake a few hundred organic cookies for the Slow Foods Nations Expo turned out to be a  lot more work than it sounds.  I love Denver. The people are super friendly...and let's face it, my brother lives there, so when he brought his family to the festival, it was sweeeeeeet!

Straight from Denver, I flew to The Institute of Food Technology Expo in Chicago. This was another dream come true. I've thought about this event since I was a Senior in High School!  Being in a booth and talking with some of the most innovative minds in the food industry today was one of the most incredible experiences of my life!



Oh yeah...and I ate some of the best Oysters I've ever had. Don't judge. I actually really like a good oyster. I haven't had them since...well...over 20 years. The CEO of the company insisted that I try these at dinner with our team.  Yup. They were awesome.
After IFT, I flew back to Denver for that amazing Wood Fired University that I got invited to attend in March. Yes. I can't believe how fast July arrived!


Bill Rogers was there again with Culinary TV filming some of the events.

He asked me to do a show with him.  Here's the video...




We baked over 400 pizzas in 2 days! It was insanity. Pure delicious insanity.

The last week of July was spent baking and preparing a couple tons of vegan cookies for the Vegfest in Denver.  It was a busy prep! Vegans are cool.

VegFest Colorado was 3 days of Vegan conversation and education. I really love the energy and the people that I met at this event! There were so many kind-hearted souls just trying to do what they believed to be best for their health. 



I am excited to say that I did a good enough job at the Wood Fired University to be invited back for October!



 Wood Fired University October 2018 will feature the brilliant instruction of Michael Kalanty! WHAT????!!!! He is an absolute superstar in the baking industry.  I am in complete humility and awe at the opportunity to even be in the same room with him, let alone given a chance to teach at the same event!

Now the biggest Grand New Adventure for our little family.
We're uprooting.

  My family is moving to a really small town. We're still staying out West.   I will post the details as they are set in stone, but we put an offer in on a house and it has been accepted. Yes, this means I am leaving the heat and the desert. Hint. I will be much closer to my parents and family in all directions. It's a good thing. I will miss Phoenix deeply. It has been my home for a quarter of a century. Most of all, I will miss my best friend Gena and her family, who have been such a strength to me over the last few years. I will be ugly crying driving away from this house...and cheering as I arrive at the new one. Isn't life just funny that way?

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Orange Cinnamon Roll Pretzel Bites


 While walking through a crowded Houston airport anticipating a 3-hour layover between flights, I felt a hunger pain. I realized it had been over eleven hours since my last meal and I had a long way to go before I could make it home. Right about the time of the growl, I walked past a very popular soft pretzel restaurant chain that had married its pretzels with a very popular cinnamon roll franchise.  I found this to be a brilliant move on the part of the pretzel company, as they had many savoury bread offerings and the cinnamon bun company had a national following of avid bun grabbers...err...roll eaters. "Bun grabbers" sounds inappropriate. Looking at the menu I found some cinnamon pretzel bites that sounded promising.  Though they were pretty delicious served warm, as soon as they cooled down a bit, they became really chewy. I thought to myself, as I often do...,"I bet I can make these better and cheaper at home....and give them a heck-of-a-lot more awesomeness in the flavour universe!"

A few months ago, I ordered this Wild Groves Blood Orange Olive Oil and instantly fell in love with the rich buttery flavour with remarkable orange notes. It was and is the perfect pairing for sweet pastries. Full disclosure, I loved it so much that I wrote an email to the owner of the company.  He generously sent me several more bottles of some of the finest olive oils on his website, including the Wild Groves Robust Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil (that recently won one of the most prestigious rewards in the country at the LA International EVOO Competition). It won Best in Show Northern Hemisphere in the domestics category! Woot! Way to go!




Anyway, I used the orange olive oil on my pretzel bites. It was a huge, sinful, blessed mistake. If something sinful can be blessed? Can it? Not sure.  I just know that the mistake is that they are freakishly addictive! Evil. Evil. Evil. Gooooooooood.

Enters...the Orange Cinnamon Roll Pretzel Bits of glory and honour. 



These little nuggets of love have all the flavour of an orange infused cinnamon roll without having to zest any oranges or make any cream cheese frosting. The dough is soft and slightly chewy, like a pretzel and made in the same way that most deli-style pretzels are made.  For an authentic pretzel flavour, I use an alkaline solution of baking soda and water. To save on the mess...I don't dip the dough into the solution. Instead, I lightly brush the pretzel ropes in the solution. To save time, instead of rolling the pretzel dough into a knot, they are cut into 1-inch bites. They're perfect for snacking, travelling, and enjoying warm or cool.


Orange Cinnamon Roll Pretzel Bites

1 1/2 cup Milk
1 Tbsp. Active Dry Yeast
1/4  cup Sugar
2 tsp salt, fine 
1/3 cup baking soda

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon or Chef Tess Wise Woman of the East Blend



Directions: Combine the milk, yeast, sugar, Olive oil, bread flour and salt. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic on a lightly floured surface, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. If the dough seems tight, cover and let rest until it relaxes. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into an 18-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a long snake on a parchment lined baking pan one inch apart. 
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip a pastry brush in the baking soda solution and paint each pretzel. Allow to dry slightly and "paint" again.  Cut the ropes into 1/2 inch segments using a pizza cutter/roller. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. 


Combine the cinnamon sugar mixture in a small bowl. 

Lightly brush the pretzel bites with the Wild Groves Blood Orange Olive Oil




Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Roll the parchment paper up and turn over the pretzels into a pile. 



Drizzle with additional orange infused oil and cinnamon sugar if desired.


 Serve warm. Serve them anywhere anytime. You'll be freakin' happy! 


There you go.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Country Wedding Cake for My Nephew

I have been a little out of the loop the last few weeks, but I have to share the photos from this wedding cake I did for my nephew Andre and his new wife Lydia. The wedding was the last week of December and it had a "Country Winter" theme.  The pictures really don't do it justice. The base is 16 inches wide and 8 inches tall, so it was really a good size. Lydia wanted it to look county with edible burlap on the top layer. The second layer we made to look like a Birch tree trunk with their initials carved in it.  The base was to be sculpted buttercream of a winter mountain and Pinetree scene. 

The biggest challenge was trying to get the three layers to tie together, but I think the addition of the edible burlap on the base of the cake as well as using some as leaves, made it work. 

Here's a better look at the finished Birch tree trunk layer...


Here's the sculpted buttercream base. I did this one all free-hand.

Here's the edible burlap and lace top layer, minus the bride and groom topper.


The best part was seeing the look on the bride's face when she saw the cake. 

Of course, it really was never about the cake. It's about these two finding each other and building a life together, but I was really happy to be part of it all. Congratulations Andre. She's a great addition to the family!




Always My Very Best,
Your Friend 
Chef Tess