Stuffed Bell Peppers

Did you like them as a child?

Did they make your heart go wild?
Would you eat them in a box?

Would you eat them with a fox?

No thanks.

I didn’t like eating bell peppers in any way shape or form.

Buuuuttttt, I did like eating out the middle. My sympathetic mom would leave out bell pepper from the stuffing part and that part I would eat. With gusto.

Not much has changed. I still prefer the flavor imparted by bell peppers than eating bell pepepers themselves.

Funnily enough, just when I went searching for stuffed bell pepper recipes (because my one and only bell pepper plant in the garden has given me at least a dozen bells!), I looked on the Pioneer Womans site, which is always a good starting place. Low and behold, what did I find first thing-front page? Stuffed Bell Peppers!

Ree always has your back.

So this is largely thanks to Ree at Pioneer Woman with a little tinkering from me.

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Ready to be popped into a 350 oven. In spite of it being summer…Its just cool enough tonight to get away with it. especially if we eat outside.

Continue reading “Stuffed Bell Peppers”

Saucy Sweet Potatoes with Apples

I kind of like the idea of being called ‘saucy and sweet’. Better than ‘cranky and bitter’.

Well these potatoes are neither cranky n or bitter.

It is a fabulous dish to have even if its summer and too hot to bake. Hubby picked out the apple bits at the end because he said it tasted like apple pie and, being gluten free, that was something he really didn’t have any more.

It’s so easy, you don’t really need a recipe per say.

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All I used were a few  sweet potatoes that I peeled, sliced and simmered in some water until tender. Drain, dice into chunks and set aside. Continue reading “Saucy Sweet Potatoes with Apples”

Spinach and Chicken Waldorf

You know how it is; a friend of your aunt Sally’s has a sister who won a blue ribbon with this awesome pie recipe.

Or the airline attendants brothers wife’s sister knows someone who works at the French Laundry and can get you this awesome recipe for…

Well, here is one from Hillstone’s restaurant who gave it to Bon Appetit who put it on there website, which landed as a post in my inbox because of the subscription to their magazine from my daughter…

It’s truly awesome!

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I poured a little extra dressing on top. I just couldn’t get that ‘piled high’ look to it though.

After reading their article here about the Hillstone restaurant group, look online to see if they have one near you. Continue reading “Spinach and Chicken Waldorf”

Caramel Cake

Apparently caramel cake is a southern thang. I had been collecting recipes for this cake for a while, always a bit wistfully, waiting for an excuse to make it.

I finally tried it out for our church bake sale, selling it by the slice. It became my new BFF and I even made it myself for my birthday last November. (I couldn’t trust anyone else to get the frosting just right, don’t ya’ know.) And if I am deadnburied, feel free to make this on my birthday and remember me with fondness, while biting in to the soft caramely goodness.

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here it is with a few slices left to it. Enough for me and you.

Continue reading “Caramel Cake”

Cake Strips

Just a quick note for you cake maker out there, or cake makers to be.

Over 20 years ago, yes, I must have been an infant, I took a cake decorating class. I learned 2 things. One, that you really should use cake strips around your cake pans and 2, I dont like decorating cakes! I don’t like the mess of cleaning up all the random icing that gets stuck every darn where and can’t go down the sink, lest it clogs the drain. Of course, it is easier with disposable frosting bags, but still…

Cake strips, I’m not exactly sure thats what they are called, are strips of something that you soak in hot water, run between two fingers to get out some of the excess water, leaving it wet still and, using a safety pin, pin it around your cake pan.

Why?

So you dont get a huge dome for a cake.

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Here we go-tops flat as a pancake. (Like most of us gals until we are 13, 14, 15 or so). If you look close, the strips are the same color as the pans. Now you can get them in cool colors. This set is very, very old. They still work great though. No domes crowning in the middle of my  cakes! Just flat plains.  This particular cake is getting ready to be made into Caramel Cake. (I will try to post this recipe for you soon. It is from a “Best of” book by Americas Test Kitchen.)

Adios amigos!

Mini Spinach Lasagne

You are going to want to run out right now and make this! Its delicious! Its easy! It’s meatless (for those meatless Friday nights, or every night for some of you.)

I have made this twice now and keep forgetting why I dont make it more often. Probably because I just plain…forget.

The only hitch is, you should be using a brownie pan. You know, those square muffin type pans used to make brownies. Like this…

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They are more shallow than muffin pans and hold the square ravioili’s perfectly. I tried them in the round muffin pans and I couldn’t get them in there. You would have to use smaller ravioli’s, like some fresh ones I found at the store. Continue reading “Mini Spinach Lasagne”

Homemade Buttermilk

If you have a heating pad lying around the house, I am about to tell you a new and useful way to use it. And it has nothing to do with buttermilk.

Because you don’t need it to make buttermilk. Making buttermilk is even easier than making yogurt. Of course, not everyone has a ‘thing’ for buttermilk like I have. And I don’t even drink it straight. I just love baking with it. Buttermilk makes bread products moister and more flavorful. It makes wonderful ranch or blue cheese dressing. How about buttermilk doughnuts? Yes, the crowd goes wild!

Well I usually just buy the yellow carton of Knudsons buttermilk at any ol’ store. (cheapest at Smart and Final). But I was at Sprouts and decided to get the Organic Valley pasture raised cows buttermilk, which cost an extra buck maybe. It was labeled ‘cultured buttermilk’ like all the other brands.

Then as hubby and I were walking around in the store, who should I run into but my neighbor-down-the-street, the totally organic lady with the veggie garden in her front yard and is the one who always updates me when Whole Foods has their chicken on sale. She saw the buttermilk and asked if I had heard of this other kind, the name escapes her, but it is around $7 a little bottle and tastes fabulous! Well, no, I had not heard of it and I would not pay $7 a bottle for ANY buttermilk. But she buys it by the case, because she loves to drink it, and gets a case discount!

That afternoon she came knocking on my door with a bottle of this…

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Kalona SUPERNATURAL Buttermilk. (please disregard the chopped veggies waiting to me omelet-ted)

“Try it” she kept saying. Really? Drink it? I usually just bake with you ya’ know. But I buckled under the pressure and poured a little bit of my Organic Valley buttermilk and a little of the Supernatural one. With only minor nose wrinkling, I tasted them both and no, I still do not drink buttermilk. But I have to say, my buttermilk tasted very much like just tart buttermilk, kind of sour. But her tasted like…a cross between buttermilk and yogurt. Not as tart, very interesting flavor. I could definitely tell a difference in quality here.

The ingredient label actually listed the cultures used to make this, kind of like when you buy yogurt. So, if it has culture like yogurt, why cant you make it yourself, like you can yogurt? Neighbor Barb got very excited at that idea and so I went to work.

I researched. It should be easy. Just mix up a good quality milk with a good buttermilk at a ratio of 3/1. So I took a mason jar, put 1 cup of this buttermilk in it and added 3 cups of milk to it, put a lid on and shook it up a bit. Then I loosened the lid, set it aside and THAT’S IT!

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If I’m going through the effort of making yogurt myself (effort, what effort? Its easier than going to the store.) I am going to make it organic.
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Ready to be tucked away for brewage! brewing? Incubating?

12 to 18 hours later you have buttermilk! It tastes like it, smells like it, looks like it.

Except one thing. The first time I made it, I set it on the heating pad, like I do my yogurt now and waited the full 18 hours.

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this heating pad on the table is great for brewing yogurt, (which is what is pictures here) keeping it warm while it ferments for 24 hours. It also helps sprout my little baby lettuce plants much much faster! 3-4 days instead of 10! I tried the buttermilk this way too at first.

It became something altogether different. Smelled and tasted like  a cross between yogurt and buttermilk , as I expected but with the consistency of European yogurt, thickish but still a bit pourable. Or maybe I made creme fresh. Or a little like sour cream. I just dont know. But I used it in my recipes to make buttermilk pancakes and biscuits. It still worked fabulous. I just thinned it out with a little milk. Next time I would culture it less.

Or would I? I decided yesterday to make another batch. I mixed it up in under 2 minuets and set it aside, this time on the counter. Only it was 9 am. Which means it might be ready by 9 tonight or as late as 3 am. Yikes! I had better check it at 9. I am not sure if it was thick last time because of the extra heat or the 18 hours, but I would check it at 12 hours this time.

Only thing is, I went to my book club last night. Then when I got home, my sons had friends over and, with hubby out of town, had kind of taken over the house, so I retired to my room, already tired at 930. Buttermilk? What buttermilk? I didn’t remember the buttermilk until I woke up at 2:30 am. Then I remembered it oh-boy! I went leaping out of bed and dashed to the kitchen. There is was, still brewing in its little corner. I opened the lid. Smells great. I tipped it. Sheesh, thick again!

Sigh. So I have yet to make it at its proper consistency. But that is such a small problem. A non-problem really. And I need to find out if I can get the same good results with other buttermilks. And how many generations of buttermilk culture can I get out of that first bottle? I used the last of it to make this new batch. I will make a new batch off this homemade culture. Will it still work? How about another batch after that? How long before it stops working? Usually with yogurt, you need to freshen the culture after 3 or 4 batches.

So, if you would like to get 4 times the buttermilk out of your carton of buttermilk, now you know that you can make it yourself, easier than falling off a log. And much less painful!

PS, I found out that by putting my homemade yogurt to incubate on the heating pad for 24 hours, it comes out perfect! Tart, thick-yes, thick, without adding gelatin or anything to it. See this post on making yogurt yourself.

French Kings Cake (Galette des Rois)

Epiphany. The Magi. Feasting. Cakes with little plastic babies in them. Or not.

We were invited to a friends home for a lovely Epiphany party a few days after Epiphany and I was in charge with bringing the kings cake.Which is fine and I looked up recipes. I just needed to make a sweet dough, use an almond filling, roll it up, etc.

No.

Not even close. Nope.

Continue reading “French Kings Cake (Galette des Rois)”

Cranberry Chicken in the deep south

Sweet home Alabama! It was my annual trek to visit my aunt in the good old town of Alexander City where she currently is innkeeper for the beautiful belle of the south, the Mistletoe Bough bed and breakfast.

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With the beautiful winter camellias… Continue reading “Cranberry Chicken in the deep south”

Garlic Roasted Potatoes (and spepper)

I have dedicated the month of January to weeding out my cookbook stash. (Notice I didn’t say “baking book stash”. That’s a whole different collection).  I go through them one by one, rediscovering what I loved about them in the first place. I am  making lists of recipes I would like to make from each. If a particular cookbook looks like it no longer has recipes that make my skirts fly up, its time to donate it to someone else.

Some of the books have a few recipes I would maybe like to try, but is it fair to keep that book on the shelf with the other, more worthy books, taking up space for just a few recipes I may, or may not, someday make?

So here is my solution. Some books are just gone. No chance, adios amigos! Some books will never go, they warm the cockles of my heart just holding them in my hands, perhaps for sentimental reasons or because they have saved my culinary butt on more than one occasion. But a few, those few who waver between these two lands, I will write out the potential recipes, either here on my blog or on the Just a Pinch web site. They will be on standby, waiting to be made. I can then get rid of the book and when I make the recipe, all I have to do is add the picture! The recipe is ready to go. If, after an appropriate period of time has passed and I still haven’t made that recipe, then it is time to retire it altogether.

Brilliant huh? Continue reading “Garlic Roasted Potatoes (and spepper)”