Archive for ◊ October, 2010 ◊

22 Oct 2010 Breakfast Biscuits

These homemade breakfast biscuits are bigger, better, prettier and tastier than anything you’ll find at a fast food place or diner, and probably have a lot less fat. How can you resist these?  Don’t be scared.  They go together pretty quickly, and the payoff is enormous. Make customized versions, and you’ll fast become a legend in your own kitchen!

Start with this  recipe as a guide, then customize, customize, customize. Use whatever meat you have on hand, with bacon, sausage and ham being perennial breakfast favorites (and seem to make most people swoon).  The Breakfast Biscuit pictured above has no meat, only onions, peppers, and tomatoes. I’ve made the Breakfast Biscuits exactly like the ones below,as well as sausage and olive breakfast biscuits,  Honey Baked Ham breakfast biscuits, and the veggie biscuits above.  I want to incorporate asparagus and mushrooms in the next ones. Note, most veggies will need to be precooked (leftover from dinner?), but the tomatoes can be fresh picked.  Now, I am not endorsing this, but one of my friends told me she made these with refrigerated biscuit dough and they worked out very well…

This recipe makes 6 breakfast biscuits, and they are big. If you have a chance to get medium eggs, do so, I found the large eggs were just a tad too large, some of the whites spilled out of the biscuits, but no biggie.

Breakfast Biscuits

For the topping:

3 bell peppers, cut into thin strips (or substitute any cooked veggie, or none at all)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely diced cooked ham (or sausage, or bacon…salmon?)

For the biscuit dough:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into bits (I grate frozen, or very cold, butter into the flour)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
2 cups grated Münster, Monterey Jack, or Cheddar/Jack mix or Mozzarella mix (or whatever you have on hand, use it all up!)
6 eggs (medium or small work best)

In a large skillet cook the bell peppers (or other veggie) and the onion in the butter over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, stir in the ham, and remove the skillet from the heat. (This can be made 1 day in ahead, if needed.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Make the biscuit dough:

In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and the salt, add the butter, and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and stir the mixture until it just forms a dough. Gather the dough into a ball, on a lightly floured surface knead it gently 6 times, and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into an approx. 7-inch round, form a 1/2-inch-high rim on each round by turning in the edge of the dough and pinching it until the shell measures approx. 5 inches. This does not have to be perfect, but a high outer crust will help contain the egg. The rustic look is great! Transfer the rimmed rounds to 2 buttered large baking sheets.

Divide the cheese among the shells. Top with veggie/ham mixture. Now, make a well in the center by pushing the filling to the rim (this step is important!).

Original directions: Crack and drop an egg carefully into the well of each shell. Bake the bicuits in the middle of a preheated 425°F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the egg yolks are just set.

My directions: Following the original directions produced  hard-boiled eggs, which made the biscuits easy to eat (and pleasing to the kids because they were, most definitely, finger food–they turn out like small pizzas!) BUT, I like soft eggs, so I cook the biscuits without the eggs for ten minutes.  Then I carefully crack an egg into the center of the biscuit and continue cooking until the egg yolk is set, but still soft (usually 3-4 minutes more), and the white is completely cooked.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen this morning. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

21 Oct 2010 Soft Pretzel Bites

Time to play in the kitchen again! I am not a newbie to homemade soft pretzels.  My favorite bread machine cookbook “Bread Machine Magic” has a recipe for “Special Ed-ible Pretzels” on page 158 which I have been making since my kids were in elementary school (they are in college now).

I had never made pretzel bites until I stumbled onto this post at Two Peas and their Pod. I made the recipe, but the pretzels didn’t taste as good as I was used to.  So I got out my old “Special Ed-ible Pretzel” recipe and combined the best of both, to get these.  My family, and some of my son’s friends, ate both batches. Both were good, but they liked this batch the best.  The changes I made to the Two Peas recipe were: amount of baking soda in the water (down from 3/4 cup to 2 1/2 T), using 2 tsp. white sugar instead of 1 T. brown sugar, replacing the egg wash with a brush of butter, doubling the yeast, and halving the recipe.

Polly’s Notes: This recipe can be successfully doubled (since I successfully halved it!).  Dips would be good to serve, but I haven’t made any yet. Two Peas has a recipe for a cheddar cheese dip, but I did not test it. If you know how to make a pizza sauce dip, that would go well too.  And since we are in Oktoberfest season, mustard might be good but, there is nothing wrong with eating these “plain”  in their basic buttery, salty goodness, which is what we do. Pretzel bites should be eaten warm. They don’t keep well at all.

Soft Pretzel Bites

3/4 cup warm tap water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 tsp white sugar
4 tsp vegetable oil (or melted butter)
2 tsp. yeast
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. Kosher salt (or ¾ tsp table salt)
10 cups boiling water
2 ½ T. baking soda
1 T. melted butter
Kosher salt

Combine water, sugar, yeast and oil in a bowl.  Stir to combine, and then let sit for 5 minutes.  Add the flour and the salt to the bowl of an electric mixer.  Pour in the yeast mixture, stir to combine then beat with a dough hook for 3 -5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  If your dough seems a bit wet, add additional flour 1 T. at a time.  Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in warm place to rise for about 60 minutes, or until dough has doubled in volume.  Preheat oven to 425º.  Bring the water and the baking soda to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer.  Meanwhile, divide dough into 4 equal sized pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope, about 12 inches long.  Cut dough into 1 inch slices.  Rest slices on a rack over a baking sheet.  You should have about 48 pretzel bites.

Boil the pretzels bits in the simmering water, adding 10 – 12 bites to the water at a time.  Boil each batch for 30 seconds, stirring gently.  With a slotted spoon remove boiled bites to rack to dry slightly.  Sprinkle each bite generously with Kosher salt then place on a well greased cookie sheet.  Bake in 425º oven for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Brush baked bites with melted butter.  Add a bit more salt, if desired.

Wait five minutes, then these bites are ready to be devoured.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. Have some fun, invite some kids over and play in the kitchen! I’d be interested in hearing what sort of dip, if any, you served these with.

20 Oct 2010 Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies

I’ve posted this recipe before, on my Polly, Julie, and Julia Facebook page.  I think this is one of my Top Ten Posted Recipes 🙂

When asked what his favorite kind of pie is, my son always answers, “meat” and then gets those raised eyebrow are-you-kidding-me looks from Americans not familiar with Great British cooking. Meat pies are one of the delicious cornerstones of British cookery. That being said, this is a very American recipe from Epicurious.com (but it stays true to the spirit of a great British meat pie). This meat pie uses boxed pastry crusts (although you could make your own), ground turkey, grated apple, grated onion, and sage. The pies can be eaten hot, warm or cold. Whole trays of unbaked pies can be frozen to be baked later. Baked pies can be frozen to be reheated in the oven, oven or microwave . Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies can be a quick snack, breakfast, lunch or dinner, they are good for game day parties, buffets, and picnics, and they are tasty all the time. My grandson giggled his way through his first Cupcake Tin Turkey Pie and that meant he liked it a lot!

I have two dozen Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies in the freezer. At my house, one never can tell when a gaggle or bevy of college students will stop by.

Try these! They are so much better in taste, nutrition, lack of preservatives, and cost-per-serving than Hot Pockets and other similar packaged food products. Don’t eat those nasty things! Try these instead! They’ll become a staple at your house, too.  BTW…, how much would two dozen Hot Pockets cost?  Waaaay more than two dozen Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies, that I am sure of.

I have made a lamb version of these pies, but I didn’t likethem nearly as much.  If you want to try Cupcake Tin Lamb Pies, change the herbs and spices to 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, 1 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies

¾ pound ground turkey
1 medium (or ½ large) onion, peeled and grated
¼ cup applesauce or ½ grated, peeled apple
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or ½ tsp dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried…or omit)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 boxes pre-rolled, refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)or a double batch of your own pie crust

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients but the dough and 1 tablespoon of the eggs; refrigerate mixture while you prepare the pastry. Unroll the dough and cut out twelve 4-inch circles with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a drinking glass. Line the bottoms and sides of the tins with the 4-inch rounds. Remove the bowl of filling from the refrigerator and divide evenly among the pastry filled muffin cups. Press the 2-inch rounds on top, pinching the edges together to seal. Poke a hole in the center of each pie. Brush tops with the reserved egg. Bake until the tops are browned and puffed slightly, 30 to 35 minutes. Loosen pies with thin metal spatula, place into a paper or foil cupcake/muffin liner. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Eat with hands. Serve warm…although my kids eat them hot, cold, warm and at room temperature. Can be frozen before baking-when ready to bake just follow directions above but bake for 40-45 minutes. Makes 18 cupcake sized turkey pies. Can make mini-muffin size for an appetizer buffet (but the mini pies have too much crust, and not enough filing,  for my taste.)

If these become a frequent item in your home, you might want to dedicate one cupcake pan to them, because a few batches do mess up the pans. I have two older pans for meat pies, and three pans for cupcakes. The pans stack and store easily, and you can buy a cupcake pan on sale for $3.99 sometimes.  OK, so I might have a few too many cupcake pans…

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you again, soon! (Pssssst…! Vegan version to be posted shortly.  Yes, it’s true, veganized Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies!)

19 Oct 2010 Hasselback Potatoes

Have you heard of these potatoes?  Have you ever had one?   Seen one?  Me neither.  I made, and tasted, my first Hasselback potatoes over the weekend, photographic proof above!   A Hasselback Potato is a  Swedish version of a baked potato.  It’s named after the restaurant where it was first served, Hasselbacken, in Stockholm…, in the 1700s (!).  LOL! There are pictures and recipes all over the Internet.  See the great photos here!  Was I truly the last person on the planet to learn of these?!   How on earth did I miss these for the  first 50 years of my life?  The Hasselback potatoes were fun and easy to make, looked intriguing on the plate and tasted very good.

Use the recipe below as a guide.   Change it up a bit to match your tastes, and what you have on hand.  Some recipes call for peeling the potatoes, I left the skins on.  Some recipes use Russet potatoes, I used small Yukon Golds.  Some recipes call for sprinkling the potatoes with bread crumbs, I used Parmesan Cheese.  Some recipes called for paprika and salt, I used black pepper and salt. The quantities below are just a guide, increase or decrease depending on how many potatoes you are cooking.

Hasselback Potatoes

2-4 small Russet potatoes, or 6-12 small Yukon Gold potatoes (as many as you need for the number of people you are serving)
1 tablespoon olive oil
approx. 4 tablespoons melted butter
1-2 teaspoons finely minced garlic (to taste)
salt (table, Kosher, or sea), to taste
freshly grated black pepper, to taste
approx 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400º.

The first step is the trick to these potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices, but DO NOT cut all the way through the bottom of the potato. How to do this?  Put a pencil, a skewer or a chopstick on either side of the potato.  Slice an 1/4 intervals.  The knife will stop when it hits the pencil, skewer or chopstick and you won’t slice all the way through the potato! Brilliant!

Melt the butter with the garlic and the olive oil.

Drizzle the butter mixture over the potatoes.  Then use a pastry brush, or your fingers, to make sure the butter and the garlic drizzles down between each potato slice. (I put the potatoes in a bowl, poured the melted butter-oil-garlic mixture over them, then made sure the oil and garlic slid down each cut. )  Place potatoes on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place potatoes in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake until done.  I baked small Yukon Golds for 25 minutes.  Bake a russet almost as long as you would bake a regular baked potato, 50 to 60 minutes.  Wait, you are not done yet.

Remove potatoes from oven, brush with any remaining butter-oil-garlic mixture and then sprinkle with cheese.  Return to oven to melt cheese, another 5 minutes or so.  Now you are done 🙂

Some people serve these with horseradish and herbed sour cream.  Why?  I didn’t think they needed any topping at all.

BTW, my daughter  zapped the leftovers for her breakfast the following morning.  I stole a bite.  Yummy.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  It’s always a pleasure.  Leave me a comment so I know you stopped by!

18 Oct 2010 Pear Crisp

Ahhh, fall comfort food!  I love baked pears and I love an oatmeal rich crisp topping.  This is a basic Pear Crisp recipe, if you want something fancier, check out my Drunken Pear Crisp with Cherries recipe.  I cut this recipe from a Cooking Light magazine years ago.  I’ve fooled with it quite a bit, more spices, more oatmeal, more pears… LOL!  The quantities here fit nicely into a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.  If you have a lot more pears, just up the quantities by by 50% and bake in a 9 inch by 13 inch pan.

Ummm, true confession time.  We like this best at room temperature, for breakfast.  Hey! It’s oatmeal! It’s fruit!

A few years ago I asked my son to type the recipe out for me, with my changes. He did, but he embellished it a bit. I have retyped his version here, edited just a bit for clarity.  He was young at the time, not the big hunk of 19 year old masculinity he is now… Nevertheless, he’s going to crawl into a cave and hibernate when he finds out his mom published this on her blog. Oohhhhhhh, the embarrassment of it all! Don’t anyone tell him about this, puleeeeeese!

My Lovely Mom’s Pear Crisp

6 cups sliced ripe pears (5 or 6 lbs)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A tiny bit of hard work
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
A whole bunch of JOY
1/3 cup flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons chilled butter
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup chopped walnuts (if you must)
A pinch of happiness

Directions

Look around you.  Take in your surroundings.  Be thankful. Feel wonderful about yourself and those around you. {Laugh at your son. He’s so FUNNY!} Read the recipe and do what it says.

Preheat oven to 375º.

Combine peeled and sliced pears with the lemon juice, toss gently to coat and then place in baking dish.

In another bowl combine sugar, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Stir to combine.  Pour mixture over over pears and mix lightly.

Do one thing, every day, that you have never done before.

In the same bowl (because it’s empty now and who wants to wash another dish?) combine flour, brown sugar, another ½ teaspoon cinnamon and another ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.  Cut in 3 tablespoon cold butter or grate the butter into the flour mixture with a grater (that’s what my mom does) and combine until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs.  Stir in oats and optional nuts.  Sprinkle mixture evenly over pear mixture in the baking pan.

Bake at 375º for 30-40 minutes or until pears are tender and topping is golden brown.  Cool at least 20 minutes before eating (hot pears in melted sugar burn).

Smile. You’re all done.

My son is home from college today.  I made this for our breakfast tomorrow.  He and I will enjoy some Pear Crisp and some lattes.  I’ll read the newspaper.  He’ll read something about American history…and then we will probably argue about something stupid.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, hope you enjoyed the Pear Crisp!

17 Oct 2010 Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Look what I made for my grandson’s “Pups and Trucks” birthday party,  dog bone crackers!  Aren’t they adorable?  I think the two year olds, and their parents, are really going to enjoy them.  I used a small cookie cutter to cut the bone shape out of a cheddar cheese flavored cracker dough.  Look how I’m going to serve them!  Don’t shudder, it’s a brand new dog bowl!  I bought it at the dollar store and I washed it well before putting the crackers in it!

The crackers taste great.  It’s sort of like the Goldfish crackers, not nearly as crisp, but much more flavorful (and no icky preservatives).  I’d never made crackers before, but now I know they are easier than cookies, and taste so much better than store bought boxed stuff,  I will be making them a lot more.  Think of all the possibilities: the bone cookie cutter would also make good Halloween treats (and the dough is slightly orange making it PERFECT!), for Thanksgiving  I could make leaf or acorn shapes, Christmas options are too numerous to list, Valentine’s Day hearts, Easter eggs and bunnies, Mother’s Day flowers…

I found the recipe at Yum Food & Fun for Kids magazine, October 2010 by Laura Flowers. THANKS Laura!

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

1 1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced
8 ounce package shredded cheddar cheese
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (DO this, the crackers bake so much better on parchment paper). Clear a space in your freezer to accommodate the cookie sheet.  You will need to freeze the crackers for 15 minutes before baking.

In a food processor pulse together the flour, salt, paprika and onion powder. Add the butter and process until combined. Add the grated cheddar cheese and pulse until combined. Process in the egg yolk and water until the mixture forms a ball.

Remove the dough and knead in your hands for a few turns. Divide in half and roll one part between two pieces of wax paper to 3/8 inch thick. Peel off the wax paper and cut with cookie cutters (or just cut into a square or rectangular cracker shape of choice). Place the crackers on the parchment lined cookie sheets.

Freeze the crackers on the cookie sheets for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325º.

Transfer the cookie sheets to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool crackers on cooling racks. Store in an airtight container.

I was able to get 70 1.5 inch dog bone crackers from this dough.

Happy Birthday Zadeykins!