Monday, January 30, 2012

Alton's Fudge - the Peanut Butter version

After D's mom made fudge when she was here in December, I decided I wanted to make some fudge.  So, over New Years, I decided to make some peanut butter fudge; but it needed to be quick as I was working 12 hour shifts for six days in a row.  I found Alton Brown's recipe and it turned out to be great.  Very quick and easy. If you have any peanut butter lovers coming to your house for the Super Bowl, you should make this.  You could even top it with Chocolate to make it Reese's like.  Mmmmm!

Easy Peanut Butter Fudge
8 ounces unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar (I guesstimated and  may have put a little more than necessary)

Combine the butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Be's hot! Add the vanilla and powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine. The mixture will become hard to stir and lose its sheen. Spread into an 8 by 8-inch pan lined with parchment paper. Fold the excess parchment paper so it covers the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

You Say Scone....I Say Biscuit

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens! Now, if you know Audax, you know that this challenge could have been something extremely difficult and fantastical...instead, we were challenged to do basic!  I LOVE it! 

Living in MS, biscuits are a staple but I don't think that many people have actually mastered them.  They usually get the canned or frozen kind.  My family is a frozen family.  Those great frozen biscuits that pop up so nice and tall...and then I make homemade biscuits and they are tough and flat.  Ugh!  So, I was excited to try this recipe.  The only time I've had success with a biscuit was when I made blueberry biscuits from the local junior league cookbook...gonna have to do it again because they were great.  But back to this challenge.

I decided to make biscuits the first Sunday of the month after New Years to take to Sunday school.  Unfortunately, one teacher had already brought monkey bread, so not many were eaten...but Mr. Randy had some and thought they were good.  D had some as well and then took the rest home with him after church.  I thought they turned out quite well myself.  Not tall but definitely not flat...and they had LAYERS!!!  Another plus...SO fast to make.  I made two batches in less than 20 minutes.  Thursday, I decided to try some with cheese to go with our chicken chili. 

Not sure if I could really taste the cheese distinctly but they were definitely a good way. I really enjoyed them....think D did, too!  Really enjoyed this challenge.  Thanks, Audax! 

Basic Scones (a.k.a. biscuits)
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk

Preheat oven to 475.  In a bowl, triple sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.  After that, put cold butter into bowl and cut into flour (I used my pastry blender but you could use two knives or your hands).  Then stir in about 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk and it was fine).  You should have a slightly sticky dough.  Place dough on pastry cloth or board.  Roll out to 1/2 inch thick.  Then cut into desired shape.  If you have a biscuit cutter, use that.  If not, just use a knife.  Place biscuits on baking stone and place stone in oven.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Enjoy hot with butter and jam!

For cheese scones add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with dry ingredients and then 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese.  Hopefully you'll have some garlic powder as well...I didn't!  Everything else is the same...enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Donuts with Toddlers

I got some donut pans from a friend for Christmas.  This weekend, I decided that it would be fun to try them out with K.  So, I took my baking supplies and we cooked.  This recipe is definitely a cake donut but it's still pretty good.  D liked them and apparently, so did the people in clinic.  The thing about making donuts with a toddler, is that you may have some unexpected challenges!  First we mixed the dry ingredients. 
K did great with waiting when I asked her to...then had fun stirring!  I added the oil after she put the milk in.  Then we stirred some more. 
I used a tablespoon to put the batter into the pans while K licked the spoon!  After letting the donuts bake and cool.  I made a simple glaze as well as a chocolate topping of melted chocolate chips.  I showed K how to dip the donuts...then she tried...
but tragedy occurred!  Glaze dripped onto her was all over then! 
But chocolate topping to the rescue and soon all was good with the world. 

She tasted...
then shared with me...
then ate the rest! 
Such a fun baking activity. Would do it again.  Might even try Splenda next time. 

Baked Cake Donuts
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon oil

Preheat oven to 425.  Spray donut baking pan with cooking spray.  In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in buttermilk, egg, and oil.  Stir until just combined.  Fill the donut pan 1/2 full.  Bake for 4-6 minutes or until donuts spring back when touched.  Cool.  Top with glaze or chocolate (or desired glaze).

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Do What You Want Meal

What do you do when you have people who like to eat different things?  How do you make a meal that will please everyone?  Sometimes, it can't be done; but, can!  I think meals that you can make in a way that everyone can detail to their own tastes is great!  Homemade pizza is this way.  Just make a half and half pie.  Last week, we did this with quesadillas.
I even used the "healthy" tortillas that I had in my refrigerator.  D said they didn't taste TOO healthy. ;-) A slim-pickin's grocery story trip led us to use Tyson precooked and slice refrigerated chicken.  I've never used this before but this was actually REALLY good and easy to use.  If you need a convenience chicken, I would definitely recommend it.  For the quesadillas I just sauteed some onions and peppers. 

Then I heated up my Le Crueset grill pan (yay for using it!) and oiled it some.  D had chicken, onions, peppers and cheese. 

K had chicken and cheese (and salsa....mostly salsa!).  I had onions, peppers (lots!), mushrooms, and chicken.  A nice, easy Sunday night supper...tailored to suit everyone's desires!

chicken/beef (cooked)
other fillings you want

Friday, January 13, 2012

Burnt or Just a Chocolate Crust?

Last month, one of my co-workers kept asking me to make a treat for the lounge.  I have kind of fallen behind on my lounge treats but haven't been at home much after work recently.  So, I planned to take some bars from my Southern Living book at the end of our regular month right before holiday schedule started.  Weeelllll, this recipe called for a graham cracker crust.  LOVE those...but this one was a chocolate version.  First, let me just say that it was SO hard to find the cookies. 

It called for chocolate teddy grahams.  I mean, do those exist anymore?  I couldn't find them!  Just used Kroger brand.  Then I couldn't find the mint chocolate cookie bar candies.  So, I used mint flavored M&M's instead.  I really wish I could have found that candy because it sounded wonderful; I threw some Crunch bars in as well but they pretty much just melted in with everything else.  So, I make the bars and then cut them to get them ready to take to work.  Ugh...the crust tasted burnt!  I just couldn't take them.  Boo!  I didn't throw them away, though, and let Daddy, Mama, and D try them out.  According to them, they didn't taste burnt.  So, maybe I just wasn't used to the taste of the chocolate crust...I don't know!  In general, the bars were good...I'd give them another try if I could find that candy bar somewhere!

Mint Chocolate Crumble Bars from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
10 ounce package teddy bear shaped chocolate graham cracker cookies (not sure why this matters!), crushed (2.5cups)
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 (1.55 ounce) minty milk chocolate bars with crunchy cookie bits, chopped (I used 9 mini crunch bars and about 1 cup mint m&M's)
6ounces white chocolate chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 egg
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350. Combine cookie crumbs and butter; stir.  Press into a greased 13x9 pan. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle candy bars and M&M's, white chocolate, pecans, and chocolate chips on the crust.  Combine egg and milk.  Pour over chocolate morsels.  Replace pan in oven and bake for 35 minutes.  Cool completely.  Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

So, Pumpkin is on Sale...Try This!

D's parents gave me a couple of cookbooks for Christmas.  They are Taste of Home cookbooks, so you know they have good recipes in them.  At the beginning of holiday schedule, I decided that I should find a pumpkin coffee cake to take to work. 

The Christmas recipe book had a great looking recipe in it.  Am I glad I tried it!  It was evidenced by an empty container at the end of the day.  Several people had multiple pieces.  Can't wait to find and try more recipes in these books!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake from Taste of Home Treasury of Christmas Recipes (original in parenthesis if I changed something)
Topping:  1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cake:  1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
6oz vanilla (or 8oz sour cream)
1 cup canned pumpkin (or 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325.  In small bowl mix together topping ingredients, except pecans, until crumbly.  Stir in pecans and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs on at a time.  Stir in yogurt, pumpkin, and vanilla.  Then stir in all dry ingredients. (I messed up and didn't read.  The instructions actually say to mix together yogurt, pumpkin and vanilla.  Then mix all dry ingredients.  Then add alternately with sour cream mixture.  Worked just fine how I did it.)  Spray a 13X9 pan with cooking spray.  Pour batter into pan.  Sprinkle with topping.  Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of center clean.  Remove from oven and enjoy!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Mama's Meatloaf

One day last month I sent my mom an e-mail asking for her meatloaf recipe.  Her response..."What have you done with my daughter?"  Ha!  I wouldn't normally make meatloaf for myself, but it's one of D's I wanted to make some for him.  Honestly, I think the best part about meatloaf is the sauce and this one has a really yummy sauce.  It uses tomato soup instead of ketchup and is, in my opinion, delicious! 

Mama says that she has had trouble with this staying together, but mine stayed together pretty well.  I didn't add any extra liquid (which the recipe does call for) and was sure to drain any excess fat off before topping it with the sauce for the last 15minutes of cooking.  Daddy likes it with mashed potatoes and English peas.  I don't like English peas, so we had roasted potatoes (apparently a new favorite!) and broccoli.  Now for a game...guess which plate is mine and which is D's!  :-) 
Though I wouldn't normally make meatloaf for myself, I think this arrangement will work.  I make meatloaf and my chosen veggie.  He takes the leftover meatloaf home with him and I keep the veggies for me!  Deal!

Mama's Meatloaf
1 lb ground beef (I used 85% lean)
1 egg
8 crackers crumbled (I used about 2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs)
1 medium onion, chopped
little bell pepper, chopped (about 1/3)
salt and pepper
1/4 can tomato soup (you'll use the rest of the can for the sauce)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together (use your hands!), put into a loaf pan and then into the oven.  Bake for one hour.  At one hour, take the pan out of the oven and pour off excess fat.  The top with the prepared sauce (see below).  Bake for 15 more minutes. 
3/4 can tomato soup
2 T. yellow mustard
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. vinegar (didn't have this)
1 T. worchestershire
1/2 cup water