Thursday, November 25, 2010

The PERFECT scones....not dry one bit!

If you have never tried scones or if you have and didn't like them because they were like bricks, then please, please, please I beg you to try these.  
My older son, Xander, made this with his Aunt Amanda 2 years ago when we were on a trip to New England.  We explored her property, plucked fresh blackberries right off the bushes, okay, we ate a few too while we were gathering, and then came in to make these delicious scones.
 Aunt Amanda, we love you!
I have to admit, I was one of those who doesn't particularly care for dry, brick hard bread wedges, when you have to drink enough milk to keep your mouth from drying out is not my idea of good food, but I was willing to give it a try.  And I was so glad I did, these were spectacular.  I instantly had a new love of scones and could imagine them filling every breakfast or afternoon snack from here on out!  One word.......yum!

So, here's the recipe because I know you will NEED to make these the day after Thanksgiving.  You must!

2 tsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup blueberries (we used blackberries, try what you like)

1 ¾ cup flour
1 tblsp baking powder
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1/3  cup butter
2 large eggs
3 – 4 Tblsp heavy cream or evaporated milk
2 Tblsp milk
Cinnamon sugar

Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix flour, cinnamon and blueberries together lightly; set aside. 

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together; cut in butter. 

Break eggs into measuring cup; beat with fork. Add enough cream/evaporated milk to make 2/3 cup liquid. 

Lightly stir egg mixture and berries into dry ingredients. Handle dough as little as possible

Turn dough out onto floured board; divide in two portions. 
Place on ungreased baking sheet; pat each dough portion into circle 6 in across and ¾ inch thick. 
Cut into six wedges. Brush with milk and cinnamon sugar. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. 
Yield 12 servings.  You will love these so much you won't want to share!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey-Cranberry Enchiladas

For those adventurous types....... Recipe Girl says that you've just gotta try them.  Maybe I will...

Turkey~Cranberry Enchiladas

If you try them before I do, please leave a comment on what you thought. 

How to boil the perfect egg!

Ever wondered how some people's eggs come out perfect?  You know, without that unattractive green ring around the yolk?  Here's how you do it.

Start with week old eggs.  If you want the perfect smooth egg white sides, do not use fresh eggs.  They are the kiss of death.  Fresh eggs do not peel well.

Place eggs in large pot of cold water.  Do not over crowd them.

Bring to a boil.

Now here's the important part.  As soon as the water comes to a boil, set your timer for 10 minutes.

Let boil for 10 minutes.  

As soon as the timer goes off.  Remove immediately from heat, drain the hot water and let COLD water run over them until they are cool to the touch.  They may still feel warm but you can hold them.

Peel them immediately.  The longer they stay in their shells and have the ability to cook, the more you run the risk of green ring around the yolk.  You want nice pretty eggs for deviled eggs, sliced eggs or egg salad.

The best way to peel the eggs is to tap the egg against something to get the shell cracked and then roll it around until the egg shell is cracked the entire way around.  It should come off easily.  If you used eggs you just bought yesterday, it may be a little more difficult to peel.  But this is the best method I have found and it has worked for over a decade.  :)

Cut in half lengthwise for deviled eggs.  If you want to be fancy and have a wavy edge vegetable slicer, use that instead to cut your eggs.  Everyone will ooh and aah.
Use your egg slicer in one direction, then put the egg back in and slice in the other direction to make the perfect diced eggs for egg salad.

So there you have it as taught to me by my wise friend Kathy Porter right after Bob and I first got married.  I haven't had a green egg since, it works.  She taught me lots of things in the kitchen, you'll hear all about her in recipes to come.

Let the countdown begin...

We are up.  We are ready.  Oven on.  Aprons on.  Food to cook!

Today we are making the following.  I will post recipes later of all things not already on here.

  • Deviled Eggs - I have a secret ingredient even kids love
  • Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake with chocolate crust - Xander's first attempt at making a cheesecake.  I am excited!
  • Corn Casserole - it is not Thanksgiving without this on the table!
  • Homemade Whipped Cream - this year Christian gets involved and takes over this responsibility!  Makes my heart go pitter patter.  I remember when Xander was his age and it was his job.  Traditions are the best and my family is full of traditionalists!

A funny.... on Monday when I was deciding what pies to make.  I thought I would try a "new" pumpkin pie recipe I had seen somewhere and was telling Mac and Moose about it.  Before I could finish explaining it, the Moose looked at me and said, "mom, can you just make the 'traditional' pumpkin pie?".  I asked him why and he said that it was because it was his favorite and if I wanted to, I could make BOTH pies but he needed the traditional one, lololol.  I had to laugh.  He's only 6 and he's a boy who knows what he wants!

So into the kitchen I go.  I'll be back later to post the recipes and if all goes well, photos too!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How do you store your recipes?

A few weeks ago, I found out that my cousin started a blog to archive her recipes, check her out here.  But it didn't move me to think about starting one.  Granted I thought it was a great idea but I couldn't even manage my own personal family blog, how in the world was I going to maintain a SECOND blog?  

Well, fast forward to last 15 year old son comes into the kitchen as I am cooking and asks if he can have 1 night a week to be the cook in the kitchen.  Absolutely.  Woo Hoo, one night I don't have to cook.  Yipee.  I am a happy dish washer when someone else cooks.

Then he asks.........when I move out on my own, can I have some of your cookbooks to take with me?  Sure was my first response.  I was delighted that he enjoyed my cooking enough to want to carry on some of the recipes.  But wait.......

What am I going to do without those treasured cookbooks in hand?  How will I make my favorite recipes?  How will I journal our food legacy?  Stop the presses..........that food blogging site my cousin started seemed more like something I needed to do.

You see, for the last 17 years I have written in all of my cookbooks.  I scribble notes on the pages about who I made the dish for,  who was there, if we liked it and if I would make it again.  I also write dates in the corner to remember when I made the dish for the first time.  
Going back has been so nostalgic.  I have cried at some of my notes, laughed at others and remember so many events and people based on those scribbles.  I know now, that I am not ready to part with my cookbooks.

So here I sit today, in the middle of a busy holiday week when I should be baking pies.....oh wait, they are in the oven.......and I am sorting through cookbooks one by one and handwritten recipes handed down to me by family members.  I am chronicling our food history, our friends, our family and traditions handed by from generation to generation.

These words are my own, they might not mean much to you.  But.....when my children decide they want to cook and open this blog, I hope they will find the perfect recipe and remember why it was important to our family.  

So tell me, how do you store your recipes?  Do you blog them?  Do you write in your cookbooks?  Do you write down stories about meals you've served?  How is sharing your food legacy important to you and why?

I am thankful that I can do this for my children.  I am thankful indeed.

Bourbon Margarita Slushies

This recipe comes straight out of the current Dec 2010 Southern Living magazine.  There are several "slushies" to choose from, this one however happens to be my favorite.  Mine is in the freezer getting all slushie but not before I filled a glass with crushed ice and had a little sample.  I had to do a quality control check.  At least that's what I am telling myself!  Enjoy....I know you will!

This recipe is great even for those of us who don't particularly care for bourbon.  Bad incident when I was 16 that I never recovered from..... 

1 liter bottle club soda
1 12-oz can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup tequila
1 cup bourbon
3/4 Grand Marnier

Mix all ingredients in a LARGE bowl (makes about 9 cups).  Divide between 2 gallon size ziploc freezer bags, seal bags.  Freeze 24 hours or up to 1 week (it won't last that long in my house, lol).  

Serve in salt rimmed glasses with lime slices.


Drunken Cranberries

Every year I have ever cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, I have served this yummy creation.  It was handed down to me by a fellow Boy Scout parent, David Gal, years and years ago. 

2 12-oz. bags fresh cranberries, rinsed
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup marsala wine
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1/8 cup Angostura Bitters
1 fresh pear, firm, skinned, cored and diced
1 small can Mandarin oranges

Over medium heat, combine cranberries and sugar, mixing constantly until sugar melts and cranberries pop and release their juice.  

Puree mixture with a hand blender or in a food processor.  Mixture will thicken.  

Stir in wine, liqueur and bitters.  Mix well.  

Gently fold in pears and oranges.

Line a decorative mold with plastic wrap.  Transfer mixture into lined container.

Cover and chill until cranberries are set.  Cranberries can be made up to 3 days in advance before serving.  

Unmold, garnish and enjoy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Amish Friendship Bread - Traditional

1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 large box vanilla instant pudding
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon (you can use up to 1 tblsp if desired)

Preheat 325 degrees.

Put all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend until all ingredients are combined.

Grease bundt pan.  Generously coat pans with a mixture of cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  Wrap in aluminum foil or place in an airtight container.  Can be frozen.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter

Amish Friendship Bread is my one "go to" bread that I make for neighbors, holidays, teachers, friends, gifts, whenever!  I have not met a single person in 12 years that has not liked this bread.  

It also by far, makes the best banana bread EVER, hands down.  I know many of you will disagree and think you have the best.  But I am here to tell you that THIS bread is the best!

This starter recipe is very easy.  However with that said.... 

it does take time.....
it takes patience.....

and it takes a little work.  

1 cup milk (no less than 2%)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in a zip loc bag, release ALL air from the bag and seal.

Squeeze the contents until they are well mixed.  Let out any additional air.

Now leave it on your counter for the next 10 days.  You heard me, leave it on your room temperature counter for 10 days but do the following each day:

Day 1 - this is the day you made/received the starter.  Do nothing else today!
Day 2 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
Day 3 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
Day 4 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
Day 5 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
Day 6 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk.  Release the air and squeeze the mixture inside til blended.
Day 7 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
Day 8 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
Day 9 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
Day 10 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk and mix well in a plastic or glass container with a wooden spoon or plastic utensils.  Do NOT use metal.  Pour 1 cup starters into (4) 1 gallon ziploc bags.  Keep one starter for yourself and give the other 3 away to friends along with these instructions.  

I have successfully frozen these bags of starter.  Because if you don't have many friends, it can multiply like bunnies.  Just sayin'.  Let it come to room temperature and follow the above instructions.

Another sidenote - I have also been known to toss the plastic ziploc bag after the 2nd 10-day cycle and currently leave my starter in a large rubbermaid container.  I stir it and feed it every few days and release the air.  The longest I had my starter going in this method just sitting on my counter in the container has been over 2 years.  I even forgot to feed it for over a week.  It survived!

The one catch - you CANNOT begin the starter in a rubbermaid container, you must start it air-free in the ziploc bags for at least 2 10-day cycles!
When you finally get to the point your starter is all yeasty, growing and A-L-I-V-E....and it's in the plastic bowl living on your may sometimes separate and look like this.  Don't throw it away!!!!  It is still good, it is still living, I promise.  It is just telling you that it needs some love and some more food!  It got to this point because I neglected to feed it for over a week.  So see it is hearty starter and if it can survive ME, it can survive you!

This is what the inside of the starter looks like.  Growing, bubbly and yeasty!

The three above photos are adding the 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.  That's it.  Every 5-10 days.  You should probably make some bread every 10 days or so as well.  Your friends will love you and beg for more.

All the food, now stir.

And stir.  With a wooden spoon, not metal.
Other than that, it is a hearty starter and will survive most anything, the fridge, the freezer, being unfed for over a get the point.
This is what it will look like.  Don't try to stir out all the clumps, you'll be there all day.  The starter will feed on those clumps and they'll all be gone by tomorrow.  You'll see.  And no, the milk won't spoil.
Contact me if you need help.  More yummy recipes to follow in the breads section soon!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quick and Easy Yeast Rolls

This recipe came from my Granny Shirl.  Another amazing woman who had 6 kids.  Had a garden larger than the home she lived in.  Canned all her own fruits and vegetables.  Could cook, sew, play the organ, paint amazing things, remember the words to every kids song known to man.............I could go on and on.  How is it that grandmothers are so amazing?  I miss her too!

Anyway, I have been making this recipe for probably the last 14-15 years.  I visited her one time and she just whipped these up about an hour or so before dinner.  At dinner, I thought I had died and gone to heaven and told her I MUST. HAVE. THIS. RECIPE!  She laughed, gave it to me.  And the rest is history!  Enjoy.

1 pkg. active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 tblsp sugar
2 tblsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 1/2-2 3/4 cups flour
softened butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Add sugar, oil, salt and egg.  Stir to dissolve sugar and salt.

Stir in one cup of flour until smooth.  

Cover with cloth and put on rack over a bowl/pan of HOT water (not boiling) and let rise 15 minutes.  

Grease 9x9 pan.

Stir down batter and add 1 1/2 cups flour.  Stir until mixed.  

Knead 3 minutes.  If sticky, knead in a 1/4 cup flour.

Divide into 16 pieces.  Shape balls, arrange in pan.  Brush tops with melted butter.  (side note - I have also put 3 mini balls in muffin pans to make pull apart rolls, you can get creative with how you design your rolls.  Tell me how you made yours)

Cover and let rise 25 minutes.
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until light brown.  Remove from pan to rack.  Brush with butter again (I like to pour a little melted butter over it instead of just brushing the tops).
VARIATIONS: (as if it couldn't get any better)
CHEDDAR CHEESE - add 1/2 cup sharp cheddar with addition of flour.  Continue as directed.  Bake 15-17 minutes.

CINNAMON NUT - after shaping, roll each ball in melted butter, then in a mixture of cinnamon, nut, sugar mixture (2tblsp sugar, 2 tblsp packed brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup chopped nuts).  Continue as directed.

GARLIC - Add 2 cloves minced garlic to 1/4 cup melted butter.  Pour over rolls immediately after they come out of the oven.  Top with a little parmesan cheese.

Grilled French Bread

I know, it seems so simple.  However most people forget that they can actually slice up a loaf of French or Italian bread and grill it outdoors on the grill.  Perfect summer compliment to any meal!

1 large loaf of your favorite hearty bread (French, Italian, other)
olive oil
kosher salt

Cut bread on the diagonal into 1 - 1 1/2 inch slices.

Brush both sides with olive oil.  Don't be shy, give it some love.  You don't want it dripping but you don't want it dry either.

Lay them all out on a large cookie sheet until you are ready to grill.  Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt (to taste).

When the meal is almost ready, pop these tasty morsels on the grill until golden on each side.

You can add garlic, rosemary, cracked pepper or whatever else you like to the olive oil before you toast however, the simple classic harmony of olive oil and kosher salt blends together like nothing else in this world on the grill. 

Serve hot.  I can almost guarantee that you'll never eat just one slice.  Enjoy!

Fattoush - Lebanese Toasted Bread Salad

This salad is DELISH!  If you are invited somewhere and they ask you to bring a salad....bring THIS SALAD!  It is unique, delicious and will be the star of the party.  Just try it, I promise you'll love it.  :)

2 pita bread rounds
6-8 large lettuce leaves, torn in small pieces
1 large cucumber, cut into small cubes
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into cubes
8 spring onions, chopped
4 tblsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tblsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tblsp fresh coriander, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toast bread rounds in oven for 8 minutes.  Tear into small bite size pieces after it comes out of the oven.  Set aside.

Mix all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, wisk well.

Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl, add toasted bread then pour dressing over the top.  Toss lightly.

Serve.  You can thank me later!