Category Archives: Recipes

Perfect Corn Muffins

20170113_113631-1600x1200Amazon tempted me with one of their lightning deals on some silicone muffin trays.  I’m pretty easy.  These corn muffins from smittenkitchen looked like a good way to test drive them.20170113_110542-1600x1200The method was interesting, 1/2 cup of cornmeal was simmered in the milk until it started to look like porridge, then cooled slightly in a bowl in which the rest of the ingredients were added in their turn.  The cup of sour cream was a nice touch.20170113_110711-1600x1200Two eggs were the last of the wet ingredients added before the dry mixture was folded in.20170113_111538-1600x1200The resulting batter was pretty stiff.  The cookie dough scoop worked great in portioning between the dozen cups.  It wasn’t the perfect size so I did have to top off the cups by eye.20170113_113323-1600x1200I’m not sure how long these were in because I forgot to set  a timer.  These passed the toothpick test.20170113_114006-1600x1200Mmm… red beans cooked with a smoked ham hock – a perfect way to enjoy these perfect corn muffins.

Tidbits

20170106_110453-1600x1200A little breakfast pr0n to start.  The patty is from that batch of homemade garlic pepper recipe sausage.20161230_162702-1600x1200This is an older picture from a meal we had a couple of weeks ago.  Not sure if I have used it so here it is.  I bought a batch of purple potatoes and mixed them in with fingerlings and a cubed sweet potato.  The pork tenderloin was done sous vide and then seared in a hot pan just before plating.  There is a pan sauce made from red wine and the pan juices.  I reached for the white but it wasn’t open so the red went in.20170108_163513-1600x1200Gumbo!  This one has andouille, chicken, and shrimp.20170108_133521-1600x1200A couple of pineapple upside down cakes.  There was a little pineapple left over from Mrs J’s carrot cake, and we finally used up the last of the maraschino cherries that have been lurking in a dark corner of the fridge for ages.  Not the prettiest cakes ever but they tasted great.  There is one small slice left but it will not last out the day.img_20170110_093935_processedHere’s Ollie!  He’s been mixing about with the other kittehs and we think he’s fitting in quite well.  He and Bitsy spent the night chasing up and down the hallway.20170110_164542-1600x1200I dug one of the rib roasts out of the freezer.  It was one of those the market had on sale for the holidays.  It was oddly cut, the two end ribs were sliced down the middle, making the piece about 1-1/2 inches altogether.  I promised Mrs J that I would turn out the next steak medium done and so set the water bath temp to 140.  When it came out I sliced it in half and seared the pieces in a hot pan.  The pan sauce was made of butter and the same red wine that I used on that pork tenderloin.  The potatoes were rubbed with olive oil and generously salted, then baked in a 350 oven for an hour.20170111_090545-1600x1200Mrs J left for an appointment this morning.  Gabe waited by the door for her return.  He misses his dog mama every time she goes away.20170107_171349-1600x1200That garlic pepper sausage makes pretty good chili.20170110_164600-1600x1200I’ll close with this salad.  It’s a bagged salad topped with a deli made Greek salad with a little extra feta.

Mmm… Cinnamon Bread

20170107_103120-1600x1200Cinnamon bread with raisins because that’s how I remember it when I smell the aromas and close my eyes go back to being 6 years old and shouting “Me Me Me” when my mama asked “who wants cinnamon toast”.20170107_103209-1600x1200Spreading melted butter on the rolled out dough makes it hard to seal the seams but I don’t care.20170107_103338-1600x1200That plastic mat is just the handiest thing but don’t let them tell you nothing will stick to it.  Use plenty of flour when you roll the dough out.  I have a silicone baking mat under it ti keep it from sliding around.20170107_125454-1600x1200These aren’t the prettiest loaves.  I went with this bread machine recipe for these and it seems to work ok.20170107_150215-1600x1200You can’t have too much cinnamon.

Lunchtime!

20170105_113312-1600x1200Made the tomato soup from a big can of those San Marzano tomatoes.  I found a couple of 280z. cans in the bargain basket at Kroger a while back and this last one sat in the cupboard till I had this flash of inspiration.

Mince a carrot and half an onion and sweat them down in butter in a sauce pan.  Sprinkle a bit of flour on the veggies and stir for a minute, then add chicken stock and a can of tomatoes.  Season with celery salt, a pinch each of nutmeg, ground cloves, and black pepper and bring to a simmer for half an hour or so.  Let cool a bit, then puree in a blender or with a stick blender.  I like the stick blender because it’s easier to clean up.  Add more chicken stock if it looks too thick.  Some folks like to add cream right before serving but I never did eat it that way.

Homemade Sausage

20161230_095500-1600x1200I ground a pork butt that yielded 8lbs of meat and added 2lbs of store bought to make it an even 10lbs because most of the recipes I looked at were for 5 or 10 pounds.  Also, the store varieties are heavier on fat and I thought that would bring the lean/fat ratio of my mix closer to ideal.  Sausage needs a lot of fat, too lean and it will get tough when fried.20161230_100259-1600x1200I went with a combination of recipes, this garlic and pepper recipe looked good, and I knew I wanted sage in mine so I looked at the breakfast sausage recipes and ended up going with sage, thyme, and rosemary.  My patio chives have gasped their last, I got some but nowhere near enough so some chopped green onions went into the mix.

I bagged the sausage in one big zip lock and let it rest in the fridge for a couple of days to meld all the seasonings.  You can really get your OCD working hard when you weigh portions out on a digital scale for freezing. If it’s 1: 0.1 I won’t sleep well, thinking about how wrong it is.20161230_101418-1600x1200I was able to bag and roll 9 portions of exactly a pound each, the last bit was just zipped up in a bag for today’s lunch.  These 9 went to the freezer.

Breakfast Pr0n – French Toast

20161226_114951-1600x1200Yay!  I soaked the sourdough slices in an egg and milk mixture for an hour.  They soaked up all they were going to.  Consensus at the table was that they make great French toast.

Sourdough Bread

20161224_180043-1600x1200All I know about sourdough bread making I learned here.  I think it turned out OK, but the crust is very chewy and is a challenge that is best met by using it to dip in stew broth or something else.  I may try a french toast, letting the bread soak in the eggs mixture long enough to soften.20161224_190137-1600x1200The different patterns on the loaves are due to two different floured towels used in the long resting stage just prior to baking.  These were baked in the ginormous enameled cast iron Dutch oven, last used for these short ribs.  dsc_2066-1600x1200

I tried to slash a nice slit in the loaf but was leery of burning myself on the pre-heated 500 degree cast iron.  I may get one of those specialty tools that uses an old-timey razor blade, called a lame.  20161225_105656-1600x1200It sure is pretty!  I think the next time I will go with a shorter bake time, that crust is pretty and all, but damn!

Tidbits

20161222_174653-1600x1200Moar tacos!  That taco rack is pretty handy, I’ve been brushing oil onto the tortillas and placing them like so and then popping them into a 350 oven with the beans, meat, and cheese.  Warm the tortillas and the fillings in the microwave first because five minutes in the toaster oven is only enough to melt the cheese and give the tortillas a light toasting.  They are easy to dress with the cold toppings while still in the rack before they go to your plate.20161222_171038-1600x1200Top of the world, Ma!  Christmas tree?  Haven’t seen it.  Ginger Boy gets his wildcat on during a walk past the brush pile.ginger-boy-1600x1200Mrs J’s favorite cake is carrot cake.  She mostly begins them with a box mix and is content to add extras like crushed pineapple, fresh grated carrots, nuts, and the like but went with a scratch build this time.  She assembled hers in two 8 inch round pans because that’s what we have.  The canned icing looked so lame she decided to help it out:20161224_101031-1600x1200I think I read somewhere that they’ve fiddled with the icing recipe to eliminate some unhealthy ingredient.  Maybe this particular brand is just not very good.  Dunno.  This one has chopped pecans and toasted coconut to make it more appealing.  The cake tasted great!20161223_163743-1600x1200Took another run at a puff pastry pot pie.  The sheet of dough needed only minor trimming to fit.  Worked well, cooked it in the toaster oven at 375 for about 30 minutes.  Lost track of the total time because I kept adding minutes when it was looking like the top wasn’t brown enough yet.20161223_164248-1600x1200

I gave the dough an egg wash on both sides before covering the dish for baking.  Alton Brown mentioned this in one of his recipes, I think to help keep the gravy from soaking through the dough and not letting it puff.  It worked, I guess.  Sorta.  Maybe not!  Be sure to sprinkle the top with kosher salt before baking.

Christmas Eve Dinner Menu: Dessert Tray, Pt 2

Here is part two of the dessert tray – these are all gluten-free sweets. Easy to make, never know they are anything different from the floured desserts. I’ll post a photo of the full dessert tray later.

Peanutbutter cookie 6

Picking up a friend from the airport tonight – lots of delays have made for a long day. I’ll be packing a few of these cookies and hot tea for the drive home.

First up, I made a batch of these. They are melt in your mouth and so chocolaty. I love the dark chocolate cocoa powder, makes them not-too sweet.

Cooookie!

Full recipe is here.

Then I made a batch of these (pictured at top). So easy  – I made a double batch, hoping they last until Christmas Eve. Just in case, there will be the traditional Ice Cream Sundae Bar to back up all the cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies

(makes 18)

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

baking sheet

Cream ingredients together and drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet. Dip a fork in sugar and press down dough. Bake at 300 degree F for 10-13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool ON the baking sheet.

I added chocolate chips to a few after I flattened them on the baking sheet. They were good, but it did make the cookie more fragile and they broke apart as I transferred them to the plate. So second batch got peanuts instead.

For Dessert Tray pt. 1, click here.



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Holiday Sweet Treats, Something For Everyone

While I’m busy baking away today, here are some previous goodies from 2014:

Assorted Cookies1

Lots of cooking going on. And look what Santa dropped off early:

Mystery Machine

Just in time to hold the assortment of cookies I made this week. Most of them are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner.

Let’s get right to it. Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Not pictured because I still have to make them, Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies, recipe here. I love these because you’d never know they were flourless and they taste like brownie bites.

Looking for side dishes for your holiday dinner? You can click here for a lot of different types. And for the pet lovers, Bixby posted an update here and here is photo evidence of how the cats torment him, try not to laugh, it hurts his feelings.

How about you, what’s on your menu for the holidays? Share your holiday traditions, both edible and otherwise.

Mexican Russian Pecan Cookies

Tonight’s featured recipe had a bit of a serendipitous beginning. I was having lunch with friend LFern and told her I was still working on what type of cookies I was going to make for my gift boxes. LFern mentioned she really liked Russian Tea Cakes. I’d never heard of them, so I googled, figuring I’d surprise her with them in her gift box. Turns out they are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies. Next day I was visiting friends Larilyn and Alton (not that one) and what do they bring out to go with the coffee? Mexican Wedding Cookies. Turns out Al calls them Mom’s Pecan Cookies and he shared his mom’s recipe with me. So no matter what you call them, they are tasty.

Pecan Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts pecans
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

Preaheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour, salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. At this point, I mixed by hand until the dough stuck together and was smooth.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough, roll into shape and place on baking sheet

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack covered with wax paper (keeps the sugar mess to a minimum) to cool.

You have to roll them in powdered sugar while they are still hot, which hurts like hell for the first two, but after that, your fingers are coated in powdered sugar and it acts like a heat shield and you’ll be fine. Look, holiday gift baking isn’t for wussies. It’s an extreme sport.

After they cooled, I coated them with more powdered sugar for a festive look.

That’s it for…this year. We won’t have another recipe exchange until January. But I will be posting the recipes for Christmas Eve dinner between now and Christmas. The menu is: Roasted Cornish Game Hens, Smashed Potatoes, Cranberry Chutney, Spinach Salad, and an Ice Cream Sundae Bar.

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate. Thanks for coming along for the ride – TaMara

Christmas balls