Saturday, March 31, 2007

Post-dance Pancakes

I've posted several of my dad's recipes before. This is another one. We used to have pancakes every Saturday for breakfast until my brother decided that he didn't like them...he liked waffles. SO, we started alternating. I think it is fun to make wait until just the right time to flip them, waiting for the bubbles! Admitedly, I'm a pancake snob...mix just won't cut it. So, when my roomie said that some of her college friends were coming over after a dance and she was going to have some breakfast stuff, eggs, pancake mix...STOP! Do NOT buy pancake mix. I offered to make Daddy's pancakes. Yay!

Daddy has made these for college sunday school breakfasts before and I know that they are popular. They didn't fail! The guys liked them (as is evidenced by the place pictured above!) and I enjoyed having a taste of home. Daddy, I remembered to put in vanilla and tasted it. OH, so good!*

Daddy's Pancakes
1+ cups flour
1 T baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 T sugar
1 egg
2 T oil
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup milk (more if needed)
splash of vanilla, I don't know how much, just put some in

Sift dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.
Add liquid to dry ingredients. Allow to thicken. Meanwhile, heat a griddle on the stove until drops of water sizzle when sprinkled onto the griddle. Using a ¼ to 1/3 cup, depending of the size you want, pour batter on the prepared griddle. Cook on first side until bubbles appear on the top and you can see the sides of the pancake slightly cooking. Flip. Cook until done. The first few times you do this, you may have to check but you’ll become an expert quickly! The second side doesn’t take as long as the first. Top with butter and syrup or jam and enjoy!

*Sorry for the pictures. The guests were standing there waiting for food and I was a bit embarrassed to be taking pictures! PLUS…I didn’t want to burn the pancakes!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In Season Frittata

Last week I was really in the mood for a frittata. My favorite kind uses zucchini and summer squash. HOwever, around here that is still a bit too pricy for me! Asparagus was at a good price and the bunch I had was starting to get old, so I decided that would be perfect in a frittata. SO, I roasted the asparagus and added in some mushrooms and tomatoes along with the eggs...viola! A wonderful frittata. This is my entry to Sweetnick's ARF Tuesday because of the healthfulness of EVERYTHING in this dish! Becuase the main ingredient in this is eggs and that is the theme ingredient for Food Fight, hosted by Eating out Loud, this is my entry for that as well. Check out the site for the round up sometime after April 2nd.

A helpful hint at knowing how much asparagus to use: take the spear with one end in each hand. Bend the spear until it snaps. What remains at the top is what you should use. I discard the rest, but I hear (from Emeril) that you can use the bottom part to make an asparagus stock, or something like that! Enjoy!

Asparagus, Mushroom, and tomato Frittata
1/2 bunch asaparagus (more or less to your taste), roasted
2/3 cup mushrooms
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 eggs
1 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley, to taste
1/4 cup feta cheese
sprinkle of mozzarella cheese

To roast asparagus:
Heat oven to 425, drizzle asparagus with olive oil and season with season all. Put asparagus on pan and roast for 10 minutes (My mom says this is PERFECT time). Remove from oven and enjoy as a snack, on a salad, or in this frittata!

Lower oven heat to 350 degrees F. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray. Place asparagus in the bottom, top with mushrooms and tomatoes. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour over vegetables. Sprinkle cheeses on top. Place in oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until set. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, March 26, 2007

PIG Roast and A Cupcake Adventure

Wow! I didn't realize I was so far behind on posting! I've just been busy planning a fundraiser for the Pediatric Interest Group at my school. I am president and, unfortunately, had to pick up the slack that some officers left! Anyway, it was a fun day and at the end of the week (after a silent auction concludes) we'll have hopefully made some money that can be used for the Children's Hospital.

Anyway, I decided to do something fun to take for dessert. So, in addition to two batches of Sharpe cookies (recipe coming SOON!) I made Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes! I saw a picture of one on the Kraft website and decided that would be perfect. I have a recipe for the cake that a friend gave us when we lived in Kyrgyzstan. I think it turned out well.
The first time I made the custard filling, it was REALLY clumpy. So, I decided to make it again. Fortunately, before I did so I realized that I needed to use a whisk to stir instead of a spatula. That worked SO much better. It still wasn't QUITE as smooth as I would have liked, but it was a lot better. Next time, I would make two batches of the custard to fill 24 cupcakes. I ran out of it this time and just had to do some normal cupcakes topped with the chocolate icing. I think if I used two recipes of the custard, I would be able to put more filling and fill all the cupcakes. The icing is a dark chocolate icing made with cocoa, sugar, cornstarch, water, and a touch of butter and vanilla. It is the perfct smooth, thick but not cumpy icing. It really dressed up even the plain cupcakes. I think this is a good chocolate icing (or frosting, choose your poison) for just a normal cake if you're looking for something dark tasting rather than sugary sweet. Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

1 yellow cake mix, prepared as directed (I used butter as that’s what I had)

Custard (need two batches for the entire batch)
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

In a saucepan, heat milk until it is very hot. Add the sugar, salt, and flour while whisking. Cook until thick. Add the egg yolks and stir, while cooking, for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool in refrigerator until ready to use. (This gets pretty thick, so if you need to add a little liquid before spreading, feel free…but only a tad!)

Icing/Frosting (This ices the entire batch)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1 cup boiling (I just used hot) water
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan stir together cocoa, sugar, and corn starch. Over medium heat, add boiling/hot water. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. It will reach its thickest when it starts to boil. Remove from head and add butter and vanilla. Cool slightly and spread over cupcakes or cake.

If you're interested in more fun cakes to make, check out the newest venture by the Daring Bakers. I won't link all of them, but you can find all the links, as well as her recipe, at Peabody's site. Sucha fun group!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Green Guac

A couple of weeks ago when my Granny died, one of our precious family friends asked if she could come by. When she came in she had a box from a local kitchen store and some fresh blueberries "for me to snack on while I studied." In the box was Rachel Ray's latest cookbook, 2, 4, 6, 8 Great Meals for Couples or Crowds. On the way to TN with my brother, I went through the book and "dog-earred" quite a few recipes. While I was home I tried a couple of them. ONe was the Garlicky Guacamole and Chips. We had chicken fajitas one night and I made this. It was really good. Just a tad lemony, but that may have been because I used RealLemon, which said the juice of one lemon (called for in recipe) was 3 Tablespoons. I don't think that was right! I'll definitely try this again as my entire family liked it, even Philip! Because avacados are so healthful, this is my entry to Sweetnick's ARF Tuesday.

Garlicky Guacamole
Rachel Ray 2, 4, 6, 8 Meals for Couples and Crowds

1 ripe Haas avacado
1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 small onion, finely chopped (our onions were rotten!, so I didn't use this)
1 garlic clove, cracked
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Halve the avacado and discard the pit (easier than I thought it would be!). Scoop the flesh into a small bowl and add the jalapenos and onions. Chop the garlic and sprinkle it with salt. Use the side of your knife to apply pressure to the garlic and salt, mashing them into a paste. Add this to the bowl, along with the lemon juice. Mash with a fork until the mixture is fairly smooth. Scoop into a serving dish and serve with chips, for fajitas, or some veggies.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Story of a Sandwich

It was a sunny Saturday on Hannah Drive. The little brown-haired, hazel-eyed girl ran around the yard. Suddenly, she darted for the tree just outside the front door. It was a perfect tree for climbing...and for escaping. She must escape the goblins, they were out to get her! Then came a sweet voice, "Claire, lunch time." The little girl skipped inside. Her Mama then asked her, "What do you want for lunch?" Hmm...for some people this would be a hard question (and would be hard for her now!) but at that time, it was open faced heart peanut butter and jelly sandwich! This was the perfect Saturday showed a Mama's love, tasted yummy, prepared her for the afternoon ahead, and chased away those goblins!
I don't know where my mom came up with the idea for this sandwich, but it soon became one of my favorites. Just having a heard on my sandwich made me feel special! This is not one of my standard lunches, but a couple of weeks ago when I was studying for tests, it made me feel good! I have many memories in the kitchen, but this is perfect for Kitchen Wench's nostalgia event. Just a simple sandwich, but it always makes us smile when I remind Mama of it!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I think one of my kitchen goals this year is to use my springform pan...well, I almost got there! I used my mom's. This month's HHDD, hosted by Peabody, is centered around the theme of Cheesecakes. I decided to take this as an opportunity to make one.
Since it's just me and the roomie, I don't make large desserts often, and cheesecake qualifies as a large dessert. Since I went home this weekend and my mom had friends coming in town today, I decided this would be the perfect chance for me to make a decadent dessert. I decided to use the Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my Home to Yours.
This recipe caught my attention because of the combination of cream cheese and cottage cheese. This is a somewhat lower fat recipe than a normal cheesecake. I did take some liberty in the ingredients. For example, it calls for 9 ounces of cream cheese. Please...tell me where you can buy NINE ounces! SO, I used 8 ounces. Also, I used 33% less fat cream cheese and low fat cottage cheese. Additionally, instead of 2 eggs, I used one egg and the leftover egg whites from the yolks used for the crust...I couldn't stand to waste the whites! Finally, I only used one stick of butter/margarine instead of 1 1/2 sticks in the crust. Apparently, it still tasted good because my mom commented specifically on the crust.
This cheesecake has a really different taste. I thought it had a buttery taste. My dad commented that it was almost custard-like. Both of my parents, after one bite, said it was really good. I think I prefer a graham crust with cheesecake, but Mama liked the shortbread type crust. This was easy to make and a nice change from the often overly rich, traditional cheesecake. Dorie has done it again!
Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte
by Dorie Greenspan from Baking from my Home to Yours
3/4 cups AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 T) butter (I used 8 T), chilled (I softened mine b/c of the lack of a food processor)
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter/spray a 9-inch springform pan. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse just to blend (I don't have one, so I just used my kitchen aid - it worked just fine!). Toss in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (I just put the whole stick in). Stir the egg yolks and vanilla together and add to the mixture until the dough comes together in clumps - don't let youself allow a ball to form! Press the dough into the pan. It should come up 1 1/2 inches on the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Fit a piece of aluminum foil against the crust, covering it completely. Fill the crust with rice, dried beans, or pie weights (I didn't do this because I didn't have any of it!). Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake for another 5 minutes, not letting the crust get to brown (OOPS! I didn't see this but no harm done. I don't think the crust needed the extra time, but then again, my mom's oven runs a little hot).

1/3 cup thick berry or cherry jam (I used strawberry)
9 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 8 ounces of 1/3 less fat)
9 ounces (1 cup) cottage cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 large eggs

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Put cream cheese and cottage cheese in a mixing bowl and blend (or in a processor and process) for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. You should have a satiny mix. Add the sugar, salt, and spices and process/mix for another 30 seconds. With the machine running, add eggs and mix for one minute. Scrape as you need. Spread the jam over the cooked crust, it can still be warm. Pour the cheese mix over the jam.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the filling is uniformly puffed and no longer jiggly. Allow the torte to cool to room temperature. The filling will collapse into a thin layer. Run a blunt knife between the crust and sides of pan. Open and remove the sides of the pan. Chill slightly before serving. You can dust with confectioners' sugar if you like.

*Dorie says that she likes to roll her sweet crusts. To do this, she gathers the dough into a ball, wraps in plastic wrap and refrigerates for 20 minutes. Then she rolls it and places it in the pan and chills again.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Puny's Banana Bread...not puny!

Every time I come home to visit my parents, Mama has overly ripe bananas in the freezer for me to make some kind of breakfast treat for them. I like trying to find new recipes to try and this time was no different. The book I used this time was Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader. If you're not familiar with her Mitford series, it is about a preacher in a small town called Mitford. He has a housekeeper named Puny who takes good care of him. She keeps his refrigerator stocked with homecooked meals; otherwise, he would eat every meal at the local diner and his doctor is against that! Eventually, Father Tim meets and marries a woman named Cynthia (who has her own banana bread recipe), but Puny just can't give up cooking for him. This, with a couple of modifications, is her recipe!
This bread was nice and soft with a sweet and clearly banana taste. I think having three bananas instead of my normal two was the key to actually tasting the fruit. I recommend this highly. Because of the great nutritional benefit of bananas, this is my entry for Sweetnicks ARF Tuesday. Check her site for even more wonderful recipes.
Puny's Banana Bread
1 1/4 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup brown sugar)*
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups AP (white lily if you have it) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a loaf pan by spraying it with cooking spray. Beat sugar and oil together until fluffy. Add eggs and mix. Mix in mashed bananas. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Add 1 cup of the flour mixture to the banana mixture. Stir until just combined. Mix in HALF of the buttermilk. Add the remaining flour and buttermilk and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour (I DEFINITELY needed an hour!), or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
*The decreased amount of sugar still provided for a very sweet bread. I don't think you need the 1 1/4 cups, 3/4 is plenty. If you wanted to reduce it to 1/2 cup, it would probably still be sweet enough. The brown sugar gives the bread a darker color.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Long Ago and Far Away...

...I made these Dorie muffins. I haven't used many of her muffin recipes, but the two I've done thus far have been superb! My next experiment will be her Southern biscuits. I'm hoping that they are not flat and dense but puffy and light, but I diverge. The muffins I made were the Allspice Crumb muffins. I didn't have any allspice, so I substituted cinnamon. It was still delicious. With a tender crumb and crispy topping, these will delite your tongue and satisfy your tummy!
Allspice Crumb Muffins
from Dorie Greenspans' Baking from my Home to Yours

2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (I used cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I'm pretty sure I used margarine)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk (I used skim)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, and salt together. Stir in brown sugar, being sure there are no lumps. In another bowl, whisk the butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla together. Pour over the dry ingredients and gently and quickly stir to blend. The batter will be lumpy. Divide evenly among muffin cups (fitted with paper molds or sprayed). Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the top (recipe to follow) and gently press into the batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are golden and a knife inserted in the center of muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing muffins from mold.
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon all spice (I used cinnamon)
5 T cold unsalted butter, cut into bits (I used margarine)

Put flour, sugar, and allspice in a bowl. Add the butter and work into the flour mixture with your fingers. It should be irregularly shaped crumbs. Dorie says that these can be made up to three days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. when ready , sprinkle this over the muffin batter.
On a side note: In cleaning out my Granny's house, I was the recipient of her tube pan, cast iron skillet, pressure cooker, some REALLY CUTE stacking measuring cups, a pie plate, and an old cookbook. I might also get a poaching pan. SO be watching for my use of these items! Granny would love it.

Monday, March 05, 2007

In Memory of Granny

I found out this morning that my grandmother went home to be with Jesus during a heart cath procedure. She was 89 and a half. The smell of fruit loops will always remind me of going to her house. So will pecan pie and Granny's cheesecake. I'll miss her but am glad of all that she did with her life while here. She taught a Sunday School class, took care of her friends - taking them to choir and Sunday School, made dinners for her sister-in-law, was an expert seamstress, raised 4 children, and enjoyed 10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, but most of all she loved Jesus. Her life glorified Him and now she is singing to Him in heaven.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stack it up!

As I mentioned last week, I went to see Aida but the friend who was supposed to go with me was sick. So we postponed our fun for a week and she came for dinner this week (Dinner number 2 through month number 2!). We had one of my favorite, simple salads. It's called Polynesian Chicken and is a stack-up salad. So simple to make for MANY and for FEW! Since the theme for Weekend Cookbook Challenge is salads, this will be my submission. Check it out at Running with Tweezers as I'VE already seen some salads that I want to try! Gasp...I'm making this a double entry...because of the wonderful antioxidants in tomatoes and the pineapples, celery, and almonds, this is also my entry for Sweetnicks ARF Tuesday. Stop by her site as well and check out the other great entires.This salad uses boiled chicken, which seems simple enough but I have a great way to make the chicken moist and not over-cooked. This is from an Everyday Gourmet class that my mom went to. It was based on the cookbook by Jan Karon, author of The Mitford series. If you use this version, you do need to cook the chicken several hours in advance, but it's worth it and gives you some nicely seasoned chicken stock. So, here is how to boil chicken for the salad from the Mitford Cookbood with the salad recipe following! I honestly don't even know if the salad is from a cookbook so we'll say it's from Alice's Cookbook!

Boiled chicken
6 large chicken breasts, bone in and skin on (I used boneless, skinless and it works just as well)
2 stalks celery
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 large onion, quartered
1 bay leaf

Place the above ingredients in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat for 1 minute. Cover and remove from the heat. Let the chicken sit, covered, until completely cooled, at least 2 hours. When cooled, remove the chicken, strain the broth, and refrigerate to use later. Before using the stock, remove the congealed fat from the top. Remove the skin from the chicken, cut the meat off the bones, coarsely chop it, cover, and refrigerate or use immediately in your recipe.

Polynesian Chicken*
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
Rice (I use brown), cooked
celery, chopped
pineapple tidbits (can be canned or fresh)
green onions, chopped
sliced almonds
chow mein noodles
Ro Tel tomatoes (my addition)
shredded cheddar cheese
condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

Heat soup in a saucepan until warm and use as gravy/dressing for the salad. Put all ingredients in serving bolws, Line up on counter or table, and load up! Start with rice and stack other ingredients on top. This gets really big quite easily, so don't let your eyes trick you!!

I didn't put amounts because it really depends on how many people you are serving and what each person will use. Just use your judgment and remember, this makes GREAT leftovers!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"S'more Please?"

Apparently, today is National Peanut Butter Lovers' Day. So, I decided to let you in on a fun recipe for s'more bars. Instead of using graham crackers this is on top of a peanut butter cookie base. The recipe is from a Southern Living Favorite Cookies book/magazine. I actually had to call my mom to get the recipe. When she gave it to me, she said that the pages were stuck together...that's how I knew it was the right recipe! I made this for my Pediatric Interest Group meeting on Monday...there were no left-overs!
S'more Bars
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup chunky PB
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 7 oz jar marshmallow cream
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
¼ cup salted roasted peanuts

Preaheat oven to 375 degrees F. Beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Add sugar and mix well. Add peanut butter, egg, and vanilla and mix. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Spread in a 13X9 greased pan. Spread marshmallow cream on top of the peanut butter mixture. This is a little tricky but works better if you let the cream "rest" in the air a little before you spread it. Sprinkle chocolate morsels and peanuts over marshmallow cream. Bake @ 375 for 18 minutes or until marshmallow cream is browned (I think I did for 21 minutes). Cool and enjoy.