Tag Archives: quick

Pimento Cheese and Pretzel Sticks

Time once again to explore Southern food that once seemed so strange to this Northern gal. I’ve talked about corn bread and sweet potato pie in particular, but I think I’m most upset that I just now discovered Pimento Cheese. I’ve missed out on so many years! I don’t know if I ever tried it before (if I had it was obviously forgettable), but it always sounded like one of those “weird” foods that I’d be just fine without ever trying. And once again, I was proved incredibly wrong. I can’t get enough of it now that I’ve had it. I’ve been doing a lot of taste testing to tweak this recipe- all for your benefit of course. You’re welcome! It’s been tough but I survived. Yum.

According to our buddy Wikipedia, traditional pimento is pretty basic: sharp cheddar, mayo, pimentos, salt, and pepper. Pretty easy! But so many regional twists have been added that include hot sauce, cream cheese, jalapeños, and pickles. The possibilities are endless. And did you know that pimentos are just a version of red peppers? Slightly different and a little more expensive.

I used my new favorite cookbook Frank Stitt’s Southern Table to find a recipe base. Just a quick note on this cookbook: it’s a beautiful addition to any cookbook collection. Everything I’ve made has been fantastic and it has beautiful pictures with wonderful stories to accompany it. So if you are looking for a good Southern food cookbook (and if you aren’t, then why not?) this is it. (Note: I am not paid to say that! The cookbook was a gift from Dear Hubby.) But my recipe ended up quite different. First, I wanted to add pepper jack cheese in addition to sharp cheddar. Second, the mayo incident. He recommends making your own mayo (and has a recipe for it) but this was just not my day to make mayo. I’ve made it many times before without any issues but it just kept breaking on me, even after adding a second yolk! I didn’t want to spend all day making mayo so I just doubled the cream cheese. I also substituted jarred pimentos for roasting fresh red peppers to save time. And finally, I added some capers for a little color and tang.

And the pretzel sticks are just a variation of these pretzels. Just take a small piece of dough and roll them out super thin. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or just salt and bake at 425F until brown and crispy. Easy! This is one of my favorite dough recipes. It comes together in no time at all and always tastes good. Dear hubby actually did this batch. I made the dough and he took it from there!

How’s that for football food?  Enjoy!

Pimento Cheese

Adapted from  Chef Frank Stitt

One year ago: Sourdough Pretzels

Yield: About 3 cups

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar
  • 7 oz jar pimentos, drained (you can use roasted red peppers if you can’t find pimentos)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 juice lemon
  • 1 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • Splash of hot sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 TB capers, rinsed and drained

Directions

1. Finely shred the pepper jack or sharp cheddar. Coarsely shred it if you’d prefer more texture.

2. Add the remaining ingredients: drained pimentos, cream cheese, lemon, pepper, hot sauce, cayenne, and sugar. Mix until well combined. This may take a bit of muscle.

3. Eat! Leftovers will keep for several days in the refrigerator. But, you will want to let it come to room temperature or microwave very briefly, about 5 seconds, or it will be rather challenging to dip.

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Filed under bread, savory

Seedy Crisps (Crackers)

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

I know I just did  Parm Herb Crackers, but can you really have too many cracker options? Nope, I didn’t think so either. This dough is very easy to roll out nice and thin with very little muscle involved. That makes me happy. These are also crackers that you can just break into random pieces. Fun, right? Oh, and they go great with cheese, which is a requirement for a good cracker. If a cracker can’t hold a piece of cheese and taste good, that cracker is failing in its cracker duties. What’s that? I’m not making sense? Well, blame that on too much coffee and not enough wine. Oh, look, a cracker!

I used White Wheat flour again but otherwise didn’t change the recipe at all. These come together in no time at all. You’ll definitely spend more time standing around the oven waiting for them to cook. Or maybe don’t stand around the oven. It’s hot out, after all. Go hang out by the freezer.

On a side note, I do not like taking pictures of crackers. I don’t think they are photogenic. Good thing they are tasty.

Here’s what they look like before baking:

In the time I spent writing this post, I could have made another batch of crackers. So, what are you waiting for?

Seedy Crisps

One year ago: Homemade Oreos

Yield: A lot of crackers

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 10 minutes to prep and roll; 15 minutes to rest;  30 minutes to bake

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups (280 grams) White Wheat Flour (or split half wheat and half AP)
  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 3/4 cup + 1 TB (6 1/2 oz) water

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Line four sheet pans (or just work in batches) with silpat or parchment. Note: My oven takes forever to preheat, but if yours doesn’t, you can wait until the dough is finished before you turn on the inferno.

2. Mix together flour, seeds, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the olive oil. Then stir in the water slowly until a dough forms. You may not need it all, you may need more. I needed all the water, but not more. Knead a few times on the counter to form a smooth ball. Should come together fairly quickly. Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.

3. After resting, diving into four pieces. Roll each piece thin. It should be about the length of the sheet pan. Don’t worry about the shape – you will just be breaking it into pieces later.

4. Bake each pan for about 7 minutes, flip, then 7 minutes more. At this point, break into pieces and bake for another five minutes if needed. These crackers are supposed to be crispy.

5. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Eat and enjoy!

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Filed under cracker, savory

Skillet Cornbread

My first memories of cornbread are in Southern Ohio where I have family. My great uncle and great grandma would make all the fixin’s with fried chicken, beans, cornbread, and I’m sure other things (Mom, what else?).

But I am from much farther north where this kind of food doesn’t really exist, at least in my world. So it was weird to me. I wasn’t a terribly adventurous eater as a kid either. And I just thought cornbread was strange and I assumed I didn’t like it, even though I don’t recall ever trying a bite until I was an adult. And I love it.  I wonder what I missed by not trying my great uncle’s cornbread from years ago.

Now this Yankee is living in the Deep South where cornbread is king, and you absolutely do not ever put any sugar or anything sweet in your cornbread. Because that is wrong and only Yankees do such terrible things. So of course I make cornbread with honey. That’s how I like it.

For a long time I made jalapeño cornbread from Ina Garten. I still love that recipe, but it is less cornbread-y, makes a lot, and takes a little more effort. I’ve recently adapted this simple recipe to meet our needs. It makes a small amount and the mix comes together in less time than it takes the oven to preheat. I’m sure that any additions like cheddar and chives would be delightful, but I haven’t tried  yet. If you do please let me know how it turns out. And making cornbread in a cast iron skillet just makes it oh so good. It gets that nice brown, buttery crust but the rest is light and airy. I don’t know how anyone couldn’t like cornbread when trying this fresh out of the oven with a slab of butter, and maybe even a little more honey!

Skillet Cornbread

Adapted from Alex G. 

Yield: 1 six inch pan of cornbread

Difficulty: Very easy

Time: 10 minutes to prep, 25 minutes to bake

Note: If you look at the original recipe, it is designed for a 9 inch skillet. My recipe is not exactly halved and changes have been made so doubling my recipe will not yield the same as the original. I’ve not made the original so I can’t vouch for it but I’m sure it is still delightful.

Another Note: A reminder that I always bake with unsalted butter and whole milk. You should too.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 2 TB coarse cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TB flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (to make your own add a splash of vinegar to your milk and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TB honey
  • 4 TB melted butter, slightly cooled, plus one more for the pan

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place a six inch cast iron skillet in the oven to warm up.  After the oven is almost preheated, add a tablespoon of butter to the cast iron pan and return to oven until completely preheated. (Don’t have a cast iron skillet? They are dirt cheap on Amazon and a really wonderful pan. I use mine all the time for just about everything. All natural non-stick, no icky Teflon. So I recommend getting one. Still not convinced? A cake pan will work fine, but no need to preheat it for as long.  And make sure you butter the sides too. It will stick to a cake pan.)

2. In a medium bowl mix together the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs, honey, and melted butter. Pour the wet into the dry and mix just until combined. Don’t over mix.

4. Remove the cast iron from the oven (carefully…it’s obviously hot!). Pour the mixture into the pan.

5. Lower the oven temperature to 375F. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out completely clean. You want the cornbread to have a nice brown crust and hold together. Let cool for just a minute, then flip onto a cutting board. Cut into wedges and enjoy!

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Filed under baking, bread

Christmas in July: Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches

I know it isn’t quite July, but close enough. I assume you have planned out your 4th of July menu? No? Well, dessert is now decided. It’s easy, delicious, and a bit surprising: gingerbread ice cream sandwiches.

Gingerbread need not be reserved for just Christmas.  But no one really wants a rich, spicy cake when it is 100 degrees out. Gingerbread just seems way too heavy all by its lonesome. But freeze it and add some ice cream? Well, that is a whole different ball game.

This treat is fast and easy to make. You do have to turn your oven on, but only for 30 minutes, tops, including preheating.  It doesn’t have to be perfect (I think it looks better if it is not), can be cut to any size you want, and you can even use whatever ice cream you want. Although I think vanilla is best, but that’s just me.

Thanks to Gourmet Live Blog for suggesting this in the first place. Apparently June 5th is “National Gingerbread Day.” Yes, that does make perfect sense. I just don’t know why.

This recipe is also a one bowl wonder. One more reason to love it, right?

P.S. Did you notice I have a Facebook page now? Yes, I know, way to join the 21st Century. Just click “Like” over there on the right and join in the fun!

One year ago: Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches

From Gourmet Live

Yield: One half sheet pan of cake; sandwiches will depend on how you make them

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 10 minutes to make batter; 15 minutes to bake; 10 minutes to spread ice cream and cut into sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 qt ice cream (vanilla is my preference)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a half sheet pan (cookie sheet) and then line with parchment.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar, molasses, and egg. Then add the ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and flour. Mix until combined. It will be a bit thick at this point. Add your boiling water and stir. It will thin to a nice cake batter.

3. Spread on your sheet pan. Try to make it even, but not a huge deal if it isn’t perfect. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely. To speed things up, put it in the freezer.

4. Let your ice cream soften at room temperature. It will be easier to spread when it is soft.

5. Cut the entire sheet in half crosswise, basically into two squares. One will be your top, one will be your bottom. Spread the ice cream on one side. Top with the other. Freeze until ice cream is set again. Cut into desired sizes and shapes. Yes, a cookie cutter would be just fine here. You’ll just have to eat the scraps though. So terrible, huh?

6. Freeze until ready to eat. You can wrap them in parchment and freeze or just use a freezer bag. They keep quite nicely.

Enjoy!

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Filed under cake, frozen treat

Spice Coffee Cake

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenges, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeast dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee style cake.

While the Nazook looked utterly amazing and mouthwatering, I had no time to make it this month due to my crazy busy schedule right now. (This is the part where you pity me, of course). Thankfully, the nutmeg cake rocked and I’m so glad Jason introduced us to it! It’s incredibly easy and quick to make and tastes delightful, especially with a cup of coffee (huh, wonder if that’s why it’s called a coffee cake?). It  has a crust like a cheesecake and texture like well, a dense cake. No icing or glaze needed but I’m sure that wouldn’t hurt things. Don’t let it’s simple exterior fool you. The flavor is quite complex.

This cake would be easy to personalize to meet your taste buds. I didn’t find the nutmeg overwhelming but I do love nutmeg. I also added a pinch of cinnamon. Nutmeg and cinnamon are just meant to be together, in my humble opinion. But if they aren’t your favorite spices, just add whatever suits you. This cake has a beautiful caramel taste. The edges get a little more done than the center but that was actually my favorite part. A little bit chewier and caramel-y.

Did I mention it was quick? Less than 20 minutes, maybe closer to 10 but I wasn’t really counting, to pull together and about 40 minutes to bake. I love quick recipes that taste awesome, don’t you?

Nutmeg Cake

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) AP Flour
  • 2 tsp  baking powder
  • 2 cups  (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3/4 cup (170 gm/6 oz) butter, unsalted, cubed
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, or any nut of your choosing. I used pecans.
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg

1. Preheat your oven 350°F.
2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside.
3. Put the flour, baking powder, and the brown sugar into your food processor (mixer will work too). Pulse until uniformly mixed.
4. Toss in the cubed butter. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan colored crumbs.
5. Pour HALF of the crumbs into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.
6. Mix in the nutmeg and cinnamon
7.  Add the egg, mix until combined.
8. Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed.
9. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.
10. Gently sprinkle the nut pieces over the batter.
11. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. It’s ready when the top is golden brown, and when a toothpick comes out clean. It took 40 minutes in my oven, but I started checking at 30 minutes.
12. Let cool for a minute or two, then run a knife around the pan. Remove the outer part and let cool. If you let it cool in the pan it may stick. Make coffee and enjoy!

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Filed under baking, breakfast, cake, Daring Bakers

Chocolate Chip Hazelenut Biscotti

Biscotti, how I love thee!

Ok, I know, I’ve been out of commission for what, six weeks now? I have lots of good reasons, and probably a few that aren’t so great. First, I’m taking a couple of online writing classes, which is the biggest reason I’m not blogging since I’m busy writing for a grade. Second, everything that can break seems to have broken, including my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (insert tears here).  That will be a separate post.

In the meantime…I’m making bread by hand and making other doughs with my hand mixer (also a Kitchen Aid…). Biscotti was perfect for the hand mixer, other than me being annoyed at having to stand there holding it. Yeah, I know, I’ve gotten lazy with my big, (sort of) powerful stand mixer. I have to actually pay close attention now! Can you imagine? Hmph.

This is an easy recipe and is actually the same as the Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti, but I took out the cinnamon and added espresso and hazelnuts. I originally had espresso in the title but that was bordering on obnoxiously long. And you could really use this recipe as a base for whatever you wanted. And for me, biscotti really hits the spot first thing in the morning when you are sitting down for coffee after a good workout or yard work. It’s a great way to start your day.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Biscotti

adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts

  • 3 cups unbleached AP Flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I prefer sea salt)
  • 2 tsp espresso powder (optional, but adds a nice touch)
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and husked*
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, somewhere in between room temperature and cold.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

*To husk the hazelnuts: spread in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake in oven at 350F for about 10 minutes until very fragrant. Cover with a towel. Cool slightly and then rub together.   The skins will come off fairly easily.  Don’t fret if you don’t get all the skins. A little won’t hurt.

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two baking sheets with either silpat or parchment. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

2. Chop hazelnuts in food processor until slightly chunky. How chunky depends on your preference.

3. Place butter, sugar, vanilla, and zest in stand mixer and mix until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition. Add flour mixture. When flour is almost completely mixed, fold in the chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

4. Divide the dough in half and place on prepared sheet pans. Flatten dough into an even rectangle. If you want to cut them diagnol, keep it narrow and long. If you want to cut just straight, make it wider. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden on the edges. Remove from oven (but keep oven on),  let cool slightly and carefully move to a cutting board. Slice slightly on the diagonal. Return pieces to the sheet pan. Bake about 10 minutes. Flip pieces, bake 10 minutes more, or until desired crispiness. Careful that they don’t burn, but also make sure they are golden enough to be crunchy. Make coffee, and enjoy!

 

 

 

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Filed under Cookies

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Muffins

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lisa! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

I’m having a love hate relationship with these muffins. My favorite muffin forever has been blueberry. So of course, I decided to make blueberry muffins for this challenge, but work towards developing my own. I started with this recipe from King Arthur Flour. I modified it quite a bit before actually making the original recipe. Not always the best idea, but well, I was in a hurry. At first I hated them and almost threw them all in the garbage. After sitting, however, I liked them again.

I think the issue is that these are slightly healthier muffins. Not a health food, but healthier than say, a Starbucks muffin. There isn’t much fat, not much sugar, and flax for that I-feel-less-guilty-when-eating-these. I’m trying to add more flax to our baked goods, since it has so many health benefits, particularly all those Omega-3s. But when eating a muffin, most of the time we expect it to be sweet. These aren’t overly sweet, so once I got past that, I really liked them. My taste buds just needed a moment to adjust. I didn’t particularly care for the whole flax seeds, but the flax meal was not noticeable.

All that being said, these are a work in progress. But for now, they are a decent muffin, quite good with coffee. I used Meyer lemons since they are in season but traditional lemons will work fine. I’m posting two recipes: one with the healthier additions (which is the one I made) and the less healthier muffin for those days when you just need a muffin.

Lemon Blueberry Flax Muffins

Yield: 12 to 15 muffins

Time: Less than one hour including bake time

Difficulty: Very Easy

One Year Ago: Leaning Tower of Red Velvet

Modified from King Arthur Flour

  • 2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 TB butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 TB lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta (or 3/4 cup milk)
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • Sanding (coarse) sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with papers or grease.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. Cream together the butter, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the ricotta, mix until just combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix untilalmostcombined. The key to tender muffins is to not over mix!

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the blueberries. Continue folding gently if needed until all flour is mixed in.

6. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full, sprinkle with sugar,  and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely – they taste better after sitting for a while.

Lemon Blueberry Less Healthy Version

  • 2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 TB butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 TB lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta (or 3/4 cup milk)
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • Sanding (coarse) sugar for sprinkling

Follow the same instructions as above.

Enjoy with coffee!

 

 

 

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Filed under Daring Bakers, muffins