Holiday Gifts: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

The recipe can be found here. 

I wasn’t in the mood to chop cranberries or drag the food processor out, so I left them whole. I think I prefer it that way.

Also, I bought a bag of White Lily Unbleached Self Rising Flour, 5-lb bag a while ago to use in biscuits and decided since this is basically a biscuit cake, I’d try it this time around for this recipe. It was a game-changer. Especially at altitude, it’s so difficult not to end up having a heavy (yet yummy) cake like this.

It’s probably not a necessity at sea level, but up here, it was worth the expense (and yes, it is expensive to order a bag of flour, LOL).  The flour makes authentic southern biscuits that I can’t replicate with regular unbleached flours (even King Arthur).  I should probably do a post on how using the White Lily flour came to my attention. That’s for another day when my kitchen doesn’t look like it qualifies for FEMA assistance and the dogs need walks.

This recipe is for sure going to end up in either the Halloween or Christmas Duxbridge Mysteries Novellas.

until then…

Saturday Comfort Meal: Pan Fried Chicken Breasts

 

I butterflied chicken breasts tonight and tossed them in a homemade “shake n bake” before pan frying them, and my earworm is a little southern girl saying, “…and I helped”

It’s pretty easy and quick. Served with electric pressure cooker mashed potatoes and pepper gravy.  Salad or green beans (hey, I bet you still have some zucchini in the garden!) make for a complete dinner.

Butterflied Pan Fried Chicken Breasts

  • 1 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 – 3 tbsp flour (if you want “crunchy chicken, add 1/2 cup of panko or bread crumbs)
  • About 1/2 tsp each: salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, dried sage, garlic powder, and a dash of cayenne (more as desired)
  • olive oil (not EVOO)

cast iron skillet, gallon zipper bag

Butterfly the breasts, cutting them completely through so you have several thin cutlets.

Add them to the zipper bag, as many as you can, and have them lay flat. Pound them until they are about 1/4 inch thick. Remove and repeat until all cutlets are pounded.

Place the breasts back into the bag.  Mix all the herbs and spices together, grinding together, using a mortar and pestle if you have them. Otherwise, you can use the back of a spoon in a bowl.  Add the mixture to the bag with the breasts and toss until they are well coated.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high

Add flour to the chicken mixture and toss until all chicken is well coated, as more as needed.

Now it’s time to add breasts to the skillet. Test a bit of the moist flour and make sure it sizzles in the pan, then add breasts. Don’t crowd, you may have to do in two batches (make sure the oil heats back up). Reduce heat to medium and cook until golden brown on both sides 160 degrees F. Remove to paper towel or cooling rack. They will climb to 165 quickly.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.


 

Apple Week: Apple Cider Donut Holes

It’s the time of year when folks go out to orchards; spend the day filling bags with apples, going on hay rides, running through corn and bale mazes, before finishing up with cider and cider donuts. In honor of that, I decided to try and make my own. Baked, not fried.

I haven’t purchased cider in a while and was a little shocked at the cost – but I bought from a local orchard, so it was worth it. Excellent flavor.

These turned out pretty good – unless you’ve got donut tins, these are going to be a little lopsided, not perfectly round as the dough is more like muffin dough. They are much lighter than muffins, more like a good cake donut, and once you coat them in cinnamon and sugar, no one will notice their little flat bottoms.

This recipe made about 3 ½ dozen holes or 2 ½ dozen mini muffins.

Apple Cider Donut Holes

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 cups of apple cider (reduced to ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or 2 tbsp buttermilk powder and ½ cup water)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 small apple, shredded or 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

Topping:

  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Saucepan, large mixing bowl, Mini-muffin pan or donut pan (these usually make mini-donuts), two small bowls Continue reading

Apple Week: Cast-Iron Skillet Apple Crisp

I bought some mediocre apples the other day, and beyond feeding them to the dogs as treats, I needed something to do with the other two pounds. Apple crisp came to mind – add enough butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, and even mediocre apples can shine.  I wish I had a bit of apple cider because the wasn’t a lot of juice in these, so the crisp was a little dry, despite a stick of butter.

I toyed with going to the local open space apple orchard to grab some (free) apples, but I think I might be too late this year, and they’ve been cleaned out.  It’s become a very popular place for apple picking.

Since I discovered using a cast-iron skillet for making apple crisp, that’s been my go-to. Sometimes I bake it in the skillet, but most of the time, I move it to a glass baking dish because mine has a great cover for the leftovers. Continue reading

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

I’ve been grabbing a  rotisserie chicken whenever they’re on sale. Love them for quick meals, especially in the summer when I don’t want to heat up the kitchen.  At about 4-5 lbs, I can use them for several meals.  And the final leftovers make a great broth.

I used to make a Sonoma Chicken Salad (recipe here), and while it’s very good, I’ve gravitated toward a simpler mayonnaise-based chicken salad.  This quick and simple salad is a great use for some of that rotisserie chicken.

Pecan-Cranberry Chicken Salad

  • 2 cups diced chicken
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine thoroughly. You can add celery or onion if desired.

Serve on sliced rolls or croissants, or my favorite, lettuce leaves.

BTW, I never have photos of this because the cranberries turn it all pink, and it does not photograph well. But trust me, it tastes great.

 

 

Dinner Menu: Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub and Blueberry Coffeecake

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Let’s start grilling season off with one of my most requested recipes. A steak coffee rub.

From August 2013

A friend of mine spent a few months one summer experimenting with coffee rubs. This was one of my favorites. If you need something fun to do with your next grilled steak, this is a recipe to try. And with my love of blueberries, can’t go wrong with a blueberry coffeecake.  Yum.

On the board tonight:

  1. Steak with Coffee Rub
  2. Green Beans w/Bacon & Onion
  3. Baked Potatoes
  4. Blueberry CoffeeCake

Steak with Coffee Rub

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (use a good one)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak (rib-eye, sirloin, NY strip, etc) in 4 thick pieces

Continue reading

Dinner Menu: Baked Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce

This is an elegant dinner that looks like it took you all day to prepare.  From start to finish I cooked the asparagus and gnocchi in 1/2 hour.  The strawberry bread takes an hour to cook, but it’s a breeze to put together.  So if you feel the need for something special, but still easy, this one could be for you.

On the board tonight:

  1. Baked Ricotta Gnocchi
  2. Broiled Asparagus
  3. Loaf of good crusty bread
  4. Strawberry Bread

Years ago, Christmas Eve is spent eating good food at friends’ Mark and Larissa’s house. Mark’s mom is from Italy and Larissa’s mom is from Japan, and luckily for me, the subject always turns to food from both countries. This year we talked about ravioli, gnocchi and fish in salt domes. I have to confess I’m not a fan of gnocchi. Should be good, right? – potato goodness, covered in sauce. What’s not to love? It just isn’t a favorite of mine. Maybe because I’ve never had it fresh I am missing out. But after we discussed how to make it fresh, well, I don’t think I’d be making it anytime soon. Then I saw a recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi and it sounded good and best of all, easy.  So I’d thought I’d try it. This is what I came up with and it quickly became a favorite of my guests.

Baked Ricotta Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce

Sauce:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)

Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while preparing gnocchi. Continue reading

Grinders: Meatballs and Sauce Revisited

When I was back visiting my dad, I made him a few meals, including meatballs in sauce. I left him the fixin’s for meatball subs (called grinders when I was a kid).

I didn’t realize how much making meatballs and subs was wrapped up in memories of my mom, until I re-read my original post. From 2013:

Meatball Subs1

A few weeks back I made meatball grinders – subs to most people – and was talking to my mom about them, because after all I used her recipe. She told me that one of her favorite things to do is to buy ground beef when it’s on sale and make and freeze a whole bunch of meatballs. Then they are available to make all kinds of good stuff, like meatball soup and various meatball sandwiches.

Until that moment, I hadn’t given meatballs much thought. I mean they’re good, but beyond the occasional grinder, I didn’t really use them.  But now when I make them, I make extra so add to soups, sauces and subs.

I’ll post a basic meatball recipe below and include the grinder/sub recipe. They are just as good with pasta.  At the bottom of this post is a link to vegetarian meatballs if you’d like to go meatless.

Continue reading