Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins & Life in SoCal

Hello there! Long time no hear…

Sooo, hubby said he was running errands and did I need anything. I asked him to pick up -A- bag of Bobs Red Mill multi grain cereal for bread making.

A bag.

Indicating one.

Here is what he came home with, bless his little heart!

 

The people at Bobs Red Mill should be very happy with my husband.

The people at Bobs Red Mill should be very happy with my husband. Anyone up for some Pirates of the Caribbean Monopoly? Sorry? Those games were already there, btw.

He happened to go to Big Lots (remember Pic n Save?) and pretty much bought them out on their baking cereals. Even picked up some gluten-free mix and some polenta. (Polenta, really?) He is too generous for his own good and he brought me home 2 bags of granola too, as well as a brownie mix we haven’t tried. This kind of reminds me of a commercial for TWC, where some guy is supposed to go pick out a sofa and comes home with a whole living room set, hmmm….

So, since I had the gluten-free mix, and some organic blueberries in the fridge, I thought I might as well make muffins.

I mixed the gluten-free mix I had of my own with about half the bag of Bobs GF mix. I have heard people complain that their mix is too beany and has a bean aftertaste in the baked goods. So I mixed it up a bit.

You tell me…

 

Blueberries bursting all over the place.

Blueberries bursting all over the place.

I thought they needed a little something, so I brushed melted butter on top and sprinkles cinnamon sugar. Its like pixie-dust, it makes the muffins fly right off the plates! You would never know these were gluten-free. They are just darn good muffins.

Here is the recipe. Feel free to adapt. You could make them dairy free with substitutions, like using coconut oil or other fruit for the blueberries or add nuts or use buttermilk…

GLUTEN FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour

1/2 cup brown sugar plus 1/4 cup white sugar. Or use all of one or the other

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled.

1/2 cup whole milk (I actually put a large blob of sour cream in the measuring cup and then filled it up to the 1/2 cup mark, whisking it smooth.)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (plus I added a few drops lemon flavoring)

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen, but be careful. They will turn batter blue. I add them to each muffin individually, putting some batter in, adding frozen berries and then more batter.)

Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In another bowl whisk together the wet stuff, like butter, vanilla, milk/sour cream mixture, eggs, and zest.

Now just stir these two groups together until pretty much mixed up (that almost sounds political, doesn’t it?)

Add the berries and mix some more, making sure there are not pockets of dry stuff. Batter will thicken up. It says not to over stir, but you certainly don’t have to worry about developing gluten, which is why you don’t stir regular muffins much. But whatever.

Put cute little muffin papers in each muffin cup. Add a large scoop of batter, filling to the top, but not over. I set the muffin pan on a baking sheet just in case it spills over or is thinking about burning the bottoms.

Bake 10 minutes, then rotate pans. Bake another 10 minutes or until they start to get a bit brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.Cool a few minutes in the pan, as they are hot as the dickens to touch! Then put on a rack to cool.

After they are cooled:

Melt just a bit of butter and brush it over the tops. Sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar blend.

Then dig in!

So, what have you all been up to this summer? It is really a busy time of year for many folks. Some of you are doing room additions, others are vacationing, while some are staying home to sew up long overdue projects.

We went to the beach yesterday. What a beautiful day!

We were visiting Corona Del Mar

We were visiting Corona Del Mar. I guess everybody thought this was a good idea, because it was pretty crowded. Lots of sand castle building going on.

My freezer is full of summer tomatoes. Time to get some cilantro and make some pico de gallo!

My freezer is full of summer tomatoes. Time to get some cilantro and make some pico de gallo!

"You mean WE get to eat this??"

“You mean WE get to eat this??”

These are just screaming to be made into pulled pork sandwiches. If they dont sell at the bake sale tomorrow...We's eatin them!

These are just screaming to be made into pulled pork sandwiches. If they don’t sell at the bake sale tomorrow…We’s eatin them!

Shish-Kabobs and...

Shish-Kabobs and…

Apple crisp. Its always apple crisp season. (And you dont have to mess with a pie crust!)

Apple crisp. It’s always apple crisp season. (And you don’t have to mess with a pie crust!)

I am actually going to a friend’s house soon to have a little pie crust workshop. I am pie crust impaired. I am tired of everyone telling me how easy it is.  Buying the pie crust is easy too. But if Rita thinks she can teach me, she is a high school chemistry teacher so maybe she can. My friend baking Julie also offered to help me. She is the sourdough queen among other things. (See what I mean? Everyone else seems to be able to make pie crust.) So whichever house I make it too first. I should probably go to both. I need that much help.

I went to another friends house just last week and we did some canning, making some wonderful jams. But somehow I dont see any pictures of them! What was I thinking?

Oh wait, I found one…

The other Linda and a Rockcroc full of strawberry jam.

The other Linda and a Rockcroc full of strawberry jam. The other pot has peach-strawberry-raspberry jam simmering.

Or two:

IMG_3931 (1024x765)IMG_3930 (1024x765)

More tomatoes. Did you know you can just wash them, remove the stem and put bags of them in the freezer? Then, when its time to make sauce, you take them out and as they defrost, they just melt down. You can just pick the skins right out. (Or use a food processor and grind them in.)

More tomatoes. Did you know you can just wash them, remove the stem and put bags of them in the freezer? Then, when its time to make sauce, you take them out and as they defrost, they melt down. You can just pick the skins right out. (Or use a food processor and grind them in.)

Someone had his birthday...

Someone had his birthday…

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And someone else got a hair cut!

And someone else got a hair cut! He must have lost at least 10 pounds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that pretty much sums up our summer thus far. That and ribbons from the fair, but that’s another story. I haven’t been there yet.

Have a wonderful rest of July friends!

 

Lasagna-zilla! Beware the beast! Part 1

I am going to go out on a limb and say that, if you are reading this post, you probably like lasagna. Maybe even love it and want to marry it. I have spent the cooking part of my life searching for the perfect lasagna recipe.

I think I found the perfect fried chicken recipe.

I know I found the perfect donut recipe.

But I was still searching for the perfect lasagna recipe. Have I found it? I am not quite sure.

Maybe.

There are some frozen lasagna out there that aren’t too hideous. But tastes change too. We used to love Stoffers frozen lasagna back in our early ‘salad years’. Then we found better and better lasagna and left that in the dust.

When I go out to eat, and we happen to get a lasagna, I will perform a dissection first, carefully peeling back layer upon layer of noodles to reveal its delicious stuffing’s.

Fillippis in San Diego was my first taste of jaw dropping lasagna. Theirs was different in that it was layer upon layer of cheese stuffed noodles, with a ‘mama mia!” sauce slathered over the top. I guess like a giant multi-layered cheese stuffed ravioli, covered in sauce.

Cortinas Italian Market and restaurant has amazing and wonderful lasagna, smothered in a delicious meat sauce.

I wanted mine to rival theirs.

Now, lets step into the way-back machine and step back several years ago. Hubby and I were in San Diego, and, while driving along, came upon a unique little book store. We stepped inside to pass the time, since we were early for…something. I wandered toward the cookbooks while he checked out books on sailing.

Thats where I found this interesting book called “Carmine’s family style cookbook. More than 100 classic Italian dishes to make at home” (whew). The picture of spaghetti and meatballs on the cover still makes me drool. I am currently drooling on the keyboard right now, with the book at my elbow. There is also a picture of a restaurant on the cover. It would seem Carmine’s is a famous Italian place in New York (and now in DC. as well.)  All the pictures looked wonderful and I purchased the book.

I have never regretted it. Every recipe I have tried from that book  has won me accolades. Whether it’s the “halibut with seafood risotto” which is actually halibut, shrimp and scallops with a white wine sauce, and risotto. Or steak with peppers and onions. What I really like about it is that each recipe teaches me some basic skill or recipe that I can use across the board with other recipes. Like the Carmine’s bread crumbs. Basic, but it has made all the difference in my meatballs!

Anyway, enough about the book review.

The things I learned about lasagna are this…

Are you ready?

Sure?

First, make the sauce ahead of time. Like, days ahead of time. It needs to be cool or cold when assembling the lasagna. I never knew this! This one simple thing makes quite a difference in the ease of assembling. So lavage is not a last-minute decision, but must be planned ahead.

Make the noodles a bit ahead of time, rinsing with cool water and tossing with oil.

After baking the lasagna for an hour, let it sit an hour to settle. Who knew? That way it doesn’t slop around the pan and your plate when you go to serve it up.

Lastly, have some hot  marinara sauce on the side to pour over it.

So, what happened when I went to assemble that turned it into lasagne-zilla?

I followed the instructions most carefully. I had everything ready to go, cool, mixed and so on.It called for an 8 x 11 pan, which just looked too small to me. So i used my Pyrex 9 x 13 pan. It didn’t look deep enough, but after rummaging around the pantry, garage and cupboards, I realized that I did not have anything deeper that wasn’t just too big.

IMG_3761IMG_3763 (1024x765)

Or oval. I did not want an oval lasagna.

But it should be alright, right?

I read the instructions and found it would have 5 layers. A meat sauce layer, a ricotta layer, meat sauce layer, another ricotta layer then the marinara layer. All these layers had some mozzarella and Parmesan as well.

I started building.

3 layers in it became apparent that this pan was NOT deep enough. So what to do? It’s not like I could unbuild it. And I had no deeper pan!

E gads! What’s an Italian mama to do?

Then a little voice whispered in my ear. Kind of Field of Dreams.

“Build up the pan with foil” it whispered to me.

“Build up the pan with foil”.

I kind of wish it has said something before I started building. But whatever.

I tore off some aluminum foil, folded it in half and proceeded to ‘tuck’ the foil strips around the edges. But the gooey lasagna did not want to give.  Where I pulled away here, it slithered over there. It was like trying to put panty hose on an octopus. I finally took a bench scraper and used it to pull the noodles away from the edge. I pushed the foil down as well as I could and made a dam as it where all around the pan, raising the level of the pan.

Presto, redneck deep pan method...

Presto, redneck deep pan method…

It seemed to be working!
I put the whole baking dish on a baking sheet, (forgetting the parchment, oops) and popped it into the 400 degree oven.

It bubbled and cooked.

It grew and grew.

It reached up to just about the top of the foil!

Then I took it out and let it rest.

It settled. It shrunk, it toned down a bit.

And it was fabulous. When I pulled the foil away, there it was, at least an inch above the baking pan, sitting high and beautiful.

What she lacks in beauty, she makes up for in flavor. She makes your taste buds do the tango.

What she lacks in beauty, she makes up for in flavor. She makes your taste buds do the tango.

We were so busy digging in, I almost forgot to get a shot with the camera phone.

We were so busy digging in, I almost forgot to get a shot with the camera phone.

It was lasagna heaven! The best I’ve made yet. But not for the faint of heart. First, you had better get a freakishly deep pan to bake it in!

Then, allow yourself several days to leisurely prepare everything. Sauce one day. Ricotta another. I used Costco marinara sauce in jars, so that step was easy.

For those few of you who are not scared away, I will share the recipe in my next post. This one is too long already.

So good-bye for now.

Adieu.

Hasta la Vista.

Odds n Ends. Very odds. And Frivolous. lets not forget frivolous.

I haven’t blogged in ages.  And in case you are wondering, this is not an official blog post. It is me resting my feet and escaping from the world for a few minutes, listening to Pandora and reflecting on the past few weeks.

IMG_3696 (1024x765)Ahhh, real mahogany.

I love you.

I love you. Can I have some of that lasagne?

I love you. Can I have more chicken?

I love you. Can I have more chicken?

 

 

Drop your fork! My name is Inigo Montoya. You ate my chicken.Prepare to die!

Frying in Lard.

Frying chicken in lard, good idea.

Walk away with burner on and what do you get? Burnt lard!

Walk away with burner on and what do you get? Burnt lard! Bad idea.

This watermelon really should have had seeds! Really! Look at all the seed spots...seed beds...seed holes?

This watermelon really should have had seeds! Really! Look at all the seed spots…seed beds…seed holes?

Yep, still there.

Yep, still there. Little white ghost seeds.

My way isn't very sportsmanlike.

My way isn’t very sportsman like.

Visited Daughter in SF. She tore out cabinets and put up these metal racks. I like the blue. I think she has help...

Visited Daughter in SF. She tore out cabinets and put up these metal racks. I like the blue. I bet she had help…

San Fransisco, the land of great bread...

San Fransisco, the land of great bread…

and great dairies.

and great dairies. At least close by.

We also went to a prom.

We also went to a prom.

Is that the Colonel fighting Ronald? Way to go! Get that red headed Wendy girl in there too. Where's Jack?

Is that the Colonel fighting Ronald? Way to go! Get that red headed Wendy girl in there too. Where’s Jack?

I think this picture captures the different personalities of myself and my husband. Can you guess which one is mine?

I think this picture captures the different personalities of myself and my husband. Can you guess which one is mine?

Hand over the fried chicken and no one will get hurt. Or turned into a toad.

Hand over the fried chicken and no one will get hurt. Or turned into a toad.

Stand back! She.s got the lasagne!

Stand back! Shes got the lasagne! You stay here. I’ll take care of  this.

Baby shower food. Adorable AND yummy.

Baby shower food. Adorable AND yummy. Alice would have liked these mushrooms.

Is that supposed to be a baby in there? Are we supposed to eat it? Hmm.

Is that supposed to be a baby in there? Are we supposed to eat it? Hmm. Well, I did.

Okay, life is calling so I have to go. But soon I will have a new improved lasagne recipe posted with pictures of my lasagne pan wrestling results.

"These aren't the chickens you're looking for. You can go about your business."

“These aren’t the chickens you’re looking for. You can go about your business.”

Move along…move along.

Krispie Treats with browned butter and sea salt

(strangely enough, one year to the day this was posted, I am going to be making these again. What is it about this time of year and marshmallowy treats? So, for those of you who missed it the first time around, here is the replay. Read it over a plate full of soft and crunchy krispy treats. Yes, go make some first, then come back and read. Then you will want to make yet another batch to compare).

I think this just gives the old barn a new coat of paint, don’t you? Take an old favorite recipe and jazz it up a little with subtle flavors like browned butter and ‘Fleur de Sel’. (sea salt).

I found one at a deli and looked askance at it. Whats the big deal that you should charge $2.50 for a little chunk of a krispie treat?

So, of course, I had to buy it.

It was wonderful. It brought back all kinds of memories.

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ooey-gooey crispy sweet and salty!

When I was much younger and was living in an apartment in San Diego near Balboa Park, way back when, my little sister would come for a visit and I would always make a big pan of treats for her and I to share. We would finish off the whole pan! Did we get any sleep? I don’t remember. The sugar must have fogged up the brain after that. I also remember us walking to Balboa Park and she would skate and we would wave at the bus loads of tourists. Fun stuff.

But it has been a long time. I got older and began to realize the evils of sugar and processed cereal and blah-blah-blah. So the youngest of my muffins, his eyes almost popped out of his head when he saw me make this batch the other day.

“whaaa! Me want! Me have!  You have to let me have one!” I think there was begging and groveling involved, I don’t know. But of course, I let him have one. Then he bought more of it at the church bake sale. My mouth is watering just remembering them.

For one thing, it beats prepackaged treats by a mile. I have always made them with real butter and so they have always been wonderful, but this had a little something more. The salt was a definite enhancer. I wouldn’t have thought of adding salt to a sweet like that. (I am so a ‘thinking inside the box’ girl.) But it was wonderful. I could taste the buttery goodness, which is what happens when you brown the butter, it makes its presence known, instead of staying in the background.

So I checked out a couple of websites that had similar recipes and worked from there. For one day I set aside my nutrition scruples.

The recipe is similar to the ones printed on boxes of cereal. It’s the amount of butter as well as technique and the addition of salt on top that changes things. Yes, you can still do the usual add-ons, chips, peanut butter, etc. But you don’t have to.

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Krispie Treats with Browned Butter and Sea Salt

 

This is an even yummier version of regular treats.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, melt the butter. Keeping the heat medium low, watch it while it continues to melt. It will foam up and start to darken. Don’t walk away! It can burn in an instant.
  2. When it is a nice golden brown and smells good, add the marshmallows and turn off the heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, stirring and stirring until the little mallows are pretty much melted. If there are little lumps left, don’ worry about it.
  3. Now add the rice cereal. Stir it up well. Scoop out into a pan. The size of the pan depends on how thick you want the treats to be. an 8×8 or 9×9 pan makes pretty thick ones. I used an odd sized one my mom gave me, its a 9×7. You could use a 9×13 or even just a baking sheet, shaping it with your hands into a rectangle. I didn’t grease the pan and had no problems. But you might consider oiling or buttering the pan first.
  4. Now sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the top. I used a grinder, but if you have Fleur de Sel, you can use that or any favorite salt. I didn’t really measure the salt. I suppose no more than a teaspoon of it. Now cut into squares. Taste one to make sure its okay. Then another. Oh heck, just one more.

Oddn n Ends with a slice of cake

Turtle fudge skillet cake, a secret recipe

Turtle fudge skillet cake, a secret recipe

So, do you keep a glass of water by your bed? I could not more sleep at night without water next to me that sleep without air. Or without a fan of some kind on as white noise. Us light sleepers would be waking up all night at every little noise if we did not have white noise in the back ground. And a snoring husband does not count as white noise. Thats more like, I dunno, black noise. Just noisy noise.

So its 2 in the morning and you need a sip of water. So you reach over, half awake, take hold of the glass and take a sideways sip, because you are leaning over toward the night stand. Ever try drinking out of a cup sideways? I have never really tried it while awake, but I somehow can manage it while asleep. Of course, sometimes a little water might not make it quite to my lips. Sometimes it escapes the cup and lands elsewhere. And depending on just how cold it is that night, and where the elsewhere is it landed on, you might suddenly find yourself VERY wide awake. And damp.

I got to see an old friend out-of-the-blue yesterday, which was a treat. Rather than looking like an “old” friend Cinda is looking younger and fitter and better than ever. Both removing all sugar from her diet 3 years ago and then moving to the middle-of-no-where in Endicott WA with all the hiking and fresh air available, well, its taken its tole on her. She looks and feels great! She even, for her brief visit, helped me weed the little garden. Nothing like having a friend to chat with while weeding. The job gets done in a snap!

So the whole not eating sugar thing is very inspiring. One side of my head knows just how bad processed sugar is, but the other side, plus the taste buds, wont come to an understanding.

I got pretty excited yesterday thought. I am on a half-hearted sort of diet and have lost a few pounds. But yesterday I weighed myself after a couple of weeks and it read that I had lost 9 pounds! Wow! Should I be concerned or thrilled? Actually, I was a bit suspicious. So that half of the brain that wants to live sans sugar didn’t trust the scale and the rest of me was throwing confetti into the air and patting myself on the back. Wow, life feels pretty good.

Then my brain forced me to march back in there later that day and try again, on the scale. Dang! Those 9 pounds were right back again.

Stupid scale. Guess it needs batteries.

Or it was mocking me.

One of the reasons we don’t have a scale is because we don’t set much store on it. Our clothes and a mirror tells us what we need to know. But our guest here can’t live without weighing himself several times a day. It’s a thing with him. One of many things. So naturally, if it’s sitting there…I’m gonna use it once in a while.

Until now.

So, cakes, huh? I’ve had a run of cake orders lately. This one I am sharing with you today was for my sons teachers birthday and was not exactly an order, but an idea of my own. I called and no one had provided one. It can’t hurt to grease the educational wheels, right? (Just kidding, she is a wonderful person and deserved a wonderful cake.)

Why had I bought the 12″ Executive skillet from Pampered Chef when it was on sale 60% off in April? Why? This Turtle Fudge Skillet cake, thats why! I kept hearing about  this cake you could make at shows baked in a skillet. This one or pineapple upside down cake or black forest cake…But this turtle cake was calling out to me.

But I know better than to make a cake just for us.  So here was the perfect opportunity. Except for one small glitch.

I never did get to taste it.

Not one nibble.

When I delivered it, it was warm and smelled like heaven. I had to just ravish it with my eyes. My lips never got to touch it.

Well, I am going to share the recipe with you all, so you can taste it anyway. But don’t feel sorry for me. I will make it again some day when we are having a dinner party or a birthday party or going to a pot luck. You betcha!

Turtle Fudge Skillet Cake

(of course, I tweaked the original recipe, just a little)

you need:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix of your choice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter plus 1 extra Tablespoon for the pan
  1. Mix well with a hand or standing mixer, the first 4 ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. If you have the PC Executive 12″ skillet, put one Tbsp of butter into it and, on the stove top, melt it over a medium heat. Spread it out.
  3. Pour the cake batter into the skillet, spreading it out evenly.
  4. Put in the oven and bake about 30 minutes, testing it a bit earlier to see if done. (with a straw or other pointy-sticky thing)

Now for the shiny, crunchy topping:

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate. If bars, chop up. Or use chips.
  • 1 jar of caramel topping for ice cream (although I only had half a jar left and made do)
  • about 1/2 cup or more chopped pecans
  1. Put the chocolate and half the caramel in a microwave proof dish and melt in the microwave about 30-45 seconds, stirring it up. (Or do this in a small saucepan on the stove.)
  2. After the cake is done, let it cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a large platter.
  3. Pour the melted sauce over the cake, smoothing it out and letting it drip over the edge of the cake.
  4. Now sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top.
  5. Then, if you want, drizzle the rest of the caramel topping over the top of the whole cake and stand back to take a picture because it looks amazing!

For All You Chicken Fans

Have you seen “The Workday Chicken Pic”?

It is a weekday picture of chickens submitted by backyard farmers all over the world.

Here is a sample…

shapeimage_9The photo captions are work related, about bosses, new employees, bring your daughter to work day, etc.

The woman doing this, for free now for years, has semi-retired and only posts pics Tuesday thru Thursday. But I sure look forward to seeing the Workday Chicken Pic in my inbox in the morning.

We have submitted several pictures over the years and they have published them all. Here is our most recent one that was used May 6th.

IMG_3517 (598x800)I can’t seem to find her post of it though. If I forwarded it to you, please send it back to me. The caption was along the lines of “Your not leaving until this is done, even if I have to sit on you” or something like that. I don’t know why our hen feels like sitting and squishing her sisters. This isn’t the first time. Maybe she just likes a soft seat to lay her eggs on.

They used to have caption contests, but I haven’t seen any lately.

Click on it and enjoy!

??????????????????????

I got my big breakthrough on Workday Chicken Pic!

 

Country Apple Coffee Cake

While I may not have any great pictures of this cake, it is an easy and satisfying coffee cake experience that I don’t want you to miss just because I forgot to shoot a picture until the next day.

I actually didn't have the flaky biscuits on hand. I used a can of biscuits I had intended to roll out and flatten into noodles for a Semi-Homemade style chicken n dumplings.

I actually didn’t have the flaky biscuits on hand. I used a can of biscuits I had intended to roll out and flatten into noodles for a Semi-Homemade style chicken n dumplings. It still worked great. Look at those big pecan chunks just waiting for me to pick off while no one is looking.

It is a cheater recipe from an old Pillsbury book I have. An old dog-eared stained, somewhat falling apart book. Which means it’s the best, right?

You start with a can of flaky biscuits. Yep, one of those cans.

Then you just dice up some apples, add some chopped nuts…oh well, lets just give you the recipe.

Then someday, when this spring heat-wave-from-hell is over and you feel like baking again, you will remember this and make it for breakfast or a brunch or even a pot luck.

This one won a Grand Prize ribbon for Susan Porubcan back in 1984. Good ol’ Susan.

You need:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, diced apples (use food chopper for best results)
  • 1 can flaky biscuits
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup (don’t freak out, this is not high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 1/2 tsp. whiskey, optional (no thanks)

Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp. milk
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, generously grease 9-inch round cake pan or 8-inch square pan. Spread 1 cup of the apples in pan.
  2. Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Cut each into quarters. Arrange biscuit pieces, points up, over apples. Top with remaining 1/2 cup apples.
  3. In small bowl, mix remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the brown sugar, cinnamon, corn syrup, whiskey and egg; beat 2 to 3 minutes or until sugar is partially dissolved. Stir in pecans. Spoon over biscuit pieces and apples.
  4. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. If desired, remove from pan.
  5. In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle over warm cake. Serve warm or cool. Cover and refrigerate any remaining coffee cake.

Apple Slaw

First off all I need you to kiss my boo-boo. I have a cut on the top of my ring finger of my left hand, making typing a wee bit painful. This happened when I opened our boobie trapped fridge door and a bowl of onion dip came flying out at me, smashing itself against I-dont-know-what and cutting my finger in the process. But I have the last laugh. The bowl and dip are in pieces in the stinking trash can.

And it is a very hot day.

We are having yet another heat wave, with hot desert winds whipping through, blowing out palm fronds and whisking every dead leaf in kingdom come onto our patio where your truly will eventually be sweeping them up.

it was so windy, the palms blew right over!

Let us not forget that when I first came out this morning, there was chicken poop all over the floor in the dining area. Seems no one shut the pen last night after letting the girls out to forage. Seems also that the cats have figured out how to open the new screen to get in and out, but have yet to grasp the idea of closing it behind them.

Open door, loose hens that like cat food.

Hmm.

It’s one of those mornings you just wonder “whats next”. One of those mornings where you are looking over your shoulder and jumping at any loud noises.

So, what am I blogging about today? Its been forever since I have felt like or had the time to sit here clacking away on this ol’ keyboard. Now I forgot what I sat here for. Dang.

Well, while I am waiting for that thought to come back to me, here is a photo or two from Mothers day.

IMG_3627 (704x800)Okay, they aren’t looking very chummy. Not a very huggy picture, but there were hugs and kisses. They just don’t like taking pictures. I prefer to catch them off guard when I get photos. Like when I shot a photo of Paul making the Strawberry Trifle for our mothers day dessert.

IMG_3626 (765x1024)We have made this Pampered Chef recipe many times over the years and this is Pauls first attempt at making it himself.  Phil made the apple slaw.  Hubby made his famous bacon blue cheese burgers. (But just between you, me and the lamp-post, they were a bit overdone. Still, tasty and I didn’t have to do the cooking, so… ) Maybe that’s why I was blogging today? To share the apple slaw recipe?

Or was it the GMO thing?

Or was it the apple walnut coffeecake?

Well, anyway, we had a nice Mothers day. I was spoiled rotten. Got to play board and dice games with my mum, lay around on the couch, read some of the paper, lay around some more. Watch Firefly reruns on blue-ray. The point is my feet where up most of the time. It was good.

So lets share the apple slaw recipe. Its one of those Semi-Homemade things from Sandra Lee.And as you might guess, its uber easy.

IMG_3630 (1024x765)

You just need:

 

  • 3/4 cup of sour cream (or yogurt. We used half of each since we ran out of sour cream.)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. dry ranch salad dressing mix (Hidden Valley)
  • 1 8oz pkg. shredded cabbage and carrots (slaw mix)
  • 2 green apples, cored, cut into pieces and diced with food chopper
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper

Whisk the sour cream, sugar, vinegar and ranch seasoning in a large bowl to blend.

Add slaw mix, apples and green onions and toss-toss-toss.

Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Easy-easy-easy.

Keep cool my friends.

IMG_3605 (800x598)

Dinner Rolls, soft & sweet

As I am in the process or making dough for about 6 dozen dinner rolls, I wondered to myself if I had ever posted a recipe for this.

I have, more or less.

First though, you need to see the pictures of the baby chicks…

I could only catch 3 in the shot at one time, they kept running off with crumbs of bread.

I could only catch 3 in the shot at one time, they kept running off with crumbs of bread. They would only take the crumbs from mama, not from our hands.

Anyway, here is one recipe for a sweet dough that makes wonderful rolls.

Here is my process.

You mix the dough.

Side note:

I no longer measure the flour. Once you learn to gauge the dough by look and feel, it frees you up to make any amount you want, lessor, more whatever. I follow ingredient lists and measure more or less, the other ingredients. But the amount of flour I can just tell by look and feel now. It’s the liquid to flour ratio. If I want a wet, slack dough for say, pizza dough, ciabatta or whatnot, I leave it wetter. For other regular doughs, I add flour until it is tacky but not too sticky. If I want to make more dough, I maybe add a bit more milk/water, maybe another egg or a little more sugar or honey. Then I add enough flour to compensate.

Back to business.

You knead the dough, either by hand or my a standing mixer. If you are using a bread machine, it is doing all this for you. Rolls and pastries do not need to be kneaded very much. They do not need the gluten development, which is the whole point of kneading anyway. You only really knead it enough to make a smooth ball. Thats also why you don’t need to use bread flour. You can, but you don’t need to. The bread flour is a high protein flour, again, to develop more gluten, to sustain the growth of a loaf of bread. But we are not making bread here. So, minimum kneading, okay?

Notice it has pulled away from the sides, but is still a bit tacky-sticky looking. This is perfect. Usually some flour is added later in the process when shaping and whatnot. Better to be tacky now.

Notice it has pulled away from the sides, but is still a bit tacky-sticky looking. This is perfect. Usually some flour is added later in the process when shaping and whatnot. Better to be tacky now.

You cover it with plastic wrap to rise for about an hour.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

You push down the dough, pull it out of the bowl and put it on a floured board.

You cut the dough into about 1.5 oz pieces (if you have a kitchen scale) or just make them the size you want and make sure all the other rolls are about the same size.

You shape them. That is the tricky part. Its even hard to do with someone showing you. But you want a ‘taut’ skin on the dough.

One way is to wrap the little roll around one finger, pull the finger out and pinch the dough down around the bottom.

Another way is to put the little dough on a counter, cup your hands around it  and rotate it in circles. Here, it’s just easier to show you:

You put the rolls side by side, with a little bit of space between each one, in a greased pan or on parchment paper. I am the queen of parchment and use it all the time, buying bulk from Smart & Final. If you want  pull apart rolls, you put them closer, maybe 1/2″ apart. If you want them more individualized, with more crust, put them farther apart so they are not touching while raising.

Oil the tops, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until about double in size, usually less than an hour.

About 1/2 hour in, start heating up the oven. 350 is good for rolls although you could do 375. (I have hundreds, if not over a thousand roll and bread recipes. Most breads and rolls are baked at 375 and above. But for soft dinner rolls, sticky buns, monkey bread, I like a slower heat, 350. I dont want them crusty.)

When they are done raising, the rolls are slightly touching and it has been about 45 minutes, brush them with either melted butter, oil or a wash of a beaten egg or a wash of a beaten egg with a splash of milk in it. You get a different sheen or crust by using different washes or toppings. You find out what you like best by experimenting really. For todays rolls, I am brushing with melted butter.

Once the butter is on, I put them into the 350 oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. At that point I do my assessment.  Each batch is kind of an unknown. Each time I wait, then check on it, there is always that bit of anticipation and a mental sigh of relief when I open the oven and find them puffed and starting to brown. At that point I turn the pans around, front to back and if I have 2 pans, have them switch places.The back of the oven is always hotter than the front. Unless you have a convection oven, which I do not.

I keep baking, but start keeping a sharp eye. This is not the time to wander off and start blogging or catch up on Pinterest.  Stay near the oven and when they are all golden brown, not dark, remove them from the oven and let them cool a few minutes before removing from the pan onto a cooling rack.

Here is one recipe for a smaller batch that will make a good dozen rolls, instead of my mega batch I usually make:

  • 1 1/4 cups milk or water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, soft
  • 3 1/4 cups flour up to 3 1/2
  • 1/4 cup potato flakes or mashed potatoes (optional) (which adds moistness, its keeping qualities and the starch feeds the yeast.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt

Beat your egg in with the milk. Add the soft butter, sugar, potato if using and 1 cup of flour and mix. Now add the yeast, stir in and let rest for about 20 minutes. Give the yeastie-beasties time to wake up and do their thing.

Now, stir it up, adding the salt and more flour. Keep slowly adding the flour as it is needed. It will be ‘soaking’ in pretty quickly if you are using white flour. If you are using a standing mixer you can add flour by the tablespoon until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If mixing by hand, you will need to pull it onto a floured counter or board to finish mixing by hand, adding flour and kneading it in until it is tacky, but not too sticky. A bench scraper is very handy at this point.

Once the ball of dough is as smooth as a baby’s bottom (yes, a baby’s bum!), put it into a bowl, light mist with oil and cover with a damp towel, plastic wrap or a plate fit over the bowl and set aside to rise for about an hour.

Now, I am just repeating from above, but preheat your oven. Shape the rolls. Let rise about 40 minutes. Brush with butter or oil. Bake about 15-18 minutes, give or take.

Take out and admire before eating. I suggest always making one extra little roll if you can manage it for you to “test taste.”

IMG_3447 (598x800)

Heres a batch I made before with half whole wheat, topped with egg wash and sprinkled with wheat germ.

Heres a batch I made before with half whole wheat, topped with egg wash and sprinkled with wheat germ.

or should I make challah for  Easter?

IMG_1209??????????????????????

Planning Easter Dinner & the Stork visits the Mericle Farm

Hello again. To anyone that read yesterdays post; any songs got stuck in your heads?

I am sitting here writing up our Easter dinner menu and thought I would roam around the internet and see what others are up to. So glad I did! Here are some links to wonderful looking dishes.

look at these colored deviled eggs. I am so making these this year…

http://www.foodjimoto.com/2011/04/easter-eggs.html

Look at this vegy dip idea! It’s so adorable!

http://maluukkonen.blogspot.ca/search?updated-max=2010-04-11T07:44:00-07:00&max-results=7

I haven’t decided on whether to make honey yeast rolls, challah bread or this braided egg bread:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/easter-egg-bread

Now, for those of you having ham with your dinner, here is a great leftover idea…

http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/2013/03/bbq-ham-and-pineapple-pizza.html

Of course this also happens to be my favorite kind of pizza.

So what are you having for Easter Dinner? Here is our menu so far:


Easter dinner
2014
• Baked Ham
• Scalloped potatoes
• Candied yams
• Spinach puffs
• Jello salad
• Honey yeast rolls
Dessert
• Lambs cake
• Watermelon
• Possibly individual strawberry trifles

The trifle idea came from a lambs cake that didn’t work. I cut it up to use as a trifle later. If I get out some cute martini glasses or other goblets, I can easily make trifles with a little of the cake, strawberries, cool whip mixed with strawberry yogurt and so on. The Lambs cake is more for decor I think.

Am quite excited that the next batch of lambs cake came out beautifully. I used my new homemade non-sticking goo to brush on the pans. They came out lovely. Now the hard part, decorating.

IMG_3519The goo? Its 1 part flour, 1 part oil and 1 part Crisco. Mix all together and use a pastry brush to coat the pans. Works like a charm. Found it somewhere on the internet. Thanks someone!


ON THE CHICKEN FRONT

(Can you tell I just learned I can make lines on my posts?)

First, yesterday we had a “battle for the nesting spot” going on.

IMG_3517 (598x800)It seems one of the girls just got tired of Goldie hogging the favorite nesting spot. Goldie has been broody now for several weeks, sitting on everyone’s eggs, pecking at you when you go to collect them. The other girls all want to lay their eggs there too and she growls at them. Finally this one just got sick of it and said “If you wont move over, I’ll just lay it on you, baby!”

But  look who got the last laugh…

Sorry, all the chicks are napping right now.

Sorry, all the chicks are napping right now. Not a very friendly face though…

Yesterday a young lady friend of my sons and I went to the feed store to check out the chicks. We wanted to pick up 4 good layers, since we had a broody hen and she would do all the work raising them. What we really wanted were Brown Shavers or some other non-local breed, but we would have to get 15 and it would cost so much…

Anyway, here we were at the feed store, where we always get our babies. What did we see, but this large family standing in front of the coop demanding, “Give us all the white ones!” I was so disappointed. They were Delawares, which we had never had. I would not have minded trying out one. I looked at one the guys with the clan. He looked at me with dull eyes and said. “We saw on youtube that you can dye the chicks. We are going to let them loose on Easter and let the kids chase them and catch them.”
I was horrified. I think my jaw dropped.

“And what will you do with them after Easter?” I asked.

‘I don’t know Do you want them?” Ahhhhhh!

In the meantime their kids where picking up baby ducklings and walking around with them, in spite of the feed store people telling them to put them down. The store owner was explaining to them that coloring the chicks would be animal cruelty and was against the law. He tried to make them understand that these were babies that needed warmth, food and water. He explained about having a light bulb for them and sold them some chick food. One of the women said loudly “Oh, my uncle has a farm, we’ll just take them there after Easter”. They were there a long time while we waited for our chicks. I could tell the owner did not want to sell them to these horrific people, who just wanted to use them as toys. I am pretty sure they will be dead before Easter morning anyway. Poor things. I probably should have followed them, snuck in at night and chick-napped them.

We came home with our four anyway, put them in a lined box with food, water and a heat lamp.

Then night came.

The hens were all settled in for the night. Sonny-jim, girlfriend and I tip-toed out there (tip-toeing around the dog mines) with the babies. Stork girl carefully placed each chick neatly under the sleeping broody hen. When all four were in, we closed all the doors, mainly so no other hens could get in and possibly hurt the chicks. (Think Jurassic park, little raptors with feathers).

We waited to see what we might hear. Distress calls from babies? Screeching from mama?

We just heard mama making little clucky sounds to her new chicks. Within moments it was all silent and they were ensconced under their new mama. I would put in a picture, but she is being very protective right now. After all, she should be allowed a bit of maternity leave, wouldn’t you say?

Hey! Whats in there! Let me in! Whaa? Can't I come in too? What are those little things? I won't hurt them...Lemme in!

Hey! Whats in there! Let me in! Whaa? Can’t I come in too? What are those little things? I won’t hurt them…Lemme in!

Here is last years lambs cake

Here is last years lambs cake. There is a bag of Easter grass to garnish it.

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