Saturday Pancakes

Pancakes3Saturday after a week of unpacking and resettling seemed like a good time to celebrate with a hearty breakfast. While Joe lined a baking sheet with foil and a rack to bake a pound of peppered bacon,  I pulled out ingredients for pancakes.  I enjoy Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman blog and television series so I try her recipes often and thought I would try her recipe for Perfect Pancakes!

Now that there are 5 of us regularly around the table again (and soon to be 6!), it is necessary to cook quite a stack of pancakes, so Pioneer Woman’s method fit the bill. I did not vary from her offering except for using regular unbleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. I could have made a substitute cake flour by substituting part of the flour I used with corn starch, but silly me, I did not look that up until after we had eaten the pancakes and declared them delicious!  I thought they were a tad dense, so I checked and sure enough, that was the reason.  The main difference in the 2 flours is the protein content (which becomes gluten). The protein content of cake flour is about 8%, while the protein content of flour is about 10-11%.   Next time I will either have cake flour on hand or try this simple substitution:  For each cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 Tablespoons and add back in 2 Tablespoons of corn starch!

When we were clearing the table, my son declared these pancakes the best he had ever eaten!  Thank you, Ree Drummond! And next time I will do it right!

Perfect Pancakes

  • 3 cups Plus 2 Tablespoons Cake Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • Butter for the table
  • Maple  Syrup

Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl.

Mix together milk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl.Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring very gently until just combined.

Melt butter and add it to the batter, stirring gently to combine. Stir in more milk if needed for thinning. Batter will not be smooth. Do not overmix.

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Ladle about 1/4 cup for each pancake onto a greased or sprayed griddle over medium-low  to low heat until golden brown. The pancakes will brown too quickly if the heat is too high. When they dry slightly around the edges and begin to bubble, turn and cook a few seconds more on the other side.  Serve with a pat of butter and maple syrup.
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My parents owned a small cafe when I was growing up and Daddy made the best pancakes. I think he would have liked these.

Play Dough!

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Among the inedible things cooked in our kitchen through the years is play dough!  Our boys always loved making it when they were little.  Nora discovered the fun of “cooking” it instead of opening a store bought can last week.  Since then, she has played with it over and over using hands and fingers and various lids and rollers for making new shapes.  I pulled our old frayed recipe out of the back of the recipe box and used it, but I see that now there are several ways to make it, including one using Jello!  Tried and true works for mel

Homemade Play Dough

1 cup salt

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups water

1 Tablespoon cooking oil

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

food coloring

peppermint or lemon extract (optional)

Place in sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Cook for a few more minutes after it begins to pull away from the pan.  Turn out onto waxed paper or a silpat baking sheet and knead until smooth.  Keep in covered container when not in use.

Limeade

IMG_2827In our family, lemonade and limeade rank along with iced tea for cooling drinks.  When our boys were growing up, we lived in the Dallas, Texas area where there were Braum’s  restaurants noted for their great burgers and limeade.  This is one of those copycat recipes for Braum’s limeade. Now, my granddaughters enjoy making tall glasses of the tangy stuff.

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 lime

club soda

ice

cherry/cherry juice (optional)

Almost too easy to call a recipe – make a simple syrup by bringing 1 cup of water and a1 cup of sugar to a boil to dissolve sugar. Let cool.

Cut lime in half and press juice into glass. Add 1/4 cup simple syrup, club soda, and ice. Add cherries or cherry juice if you want a cherry limeade!  Put lime rinds back into glass along with ice.

Eetch

IMG_2552Eetch (pronounced Yeetch) is a traditional Armenian side dish made from Bulgar wheat. It is similar to tabbouleh but much thicker and grainier, and not as tart. Its color is derived from tomato paste and tomato sauce. It is a great way to use summer vegetables, another take on salads, and you can add as much spice as you wish.  I think the next batch I make I will omit cayenne pepper, but add some chopped jalapeno!  OK, I know that is not traditional, but we could call that Texas Eetch!

Eetch – Armenian Bulgur Salad

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon tomato paste ( I buy tubes of tomato paste rather than cans, so easy to use small amounts)

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup water (just measure by rinsing the tomato sauce can)

1 1/2 cups Bulgar

chopped parsley

juice of 1 lemon or more to taste, optional

a pinch of cayenne pepper ( to taste, and optional)

Heat olive oil in large sauce pan. Add onion, green pepper, 1 T tomato paste and salt, Cook over medium heat about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomato sauce, water, and when back to boiling, stir in bulgur, mixing well.  Cover, remove from heat and   let stand.  Fluff and stir in parsley plus lemon juice and cayenne if using.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.   This is beautiful served on a Romaine lettuce leaf with a sprinkle of chopped fresh tonatoes and green onions, but also works well as a side dish or  a stuffing for peppers.

Apricot Scones

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I fell in love with scones in 1991 during a trip to Scotland. While we were living in Indonesia, I read an enchanting article in Victoria Magazine which featured a tearoom in the Highlands housed in a 200 year old cottage. When we planned soon after to include a trip to the UK on summer trip back to the US from Jakarta, I hoped to add a visit there. Joe managed to find Shore Cottage (not easy), and he and I and our youngest son, Ben had tea there. I bought a Shore Cottage Tearoom Book of Recipes which still holds a place of honor on my shelves of cookbooks. Tell me, wouldn’t you be drawn to go to a place with this description?

“Through a periwinkle gate and a rose-bedecked door, one enters the white cottage where Lilly McNaught was born Perched above Loch Etive, it is now a tearoom noted for the sweets Lilly bakes with her daughter and granddaughters.”

This recipe is not in Shore Tearoom’s little blue book, but it comes from an intrigue with scones begun there in the Scottish Highlands.  When I think of baking them, I am reminded of the Shore Tearoom and our scones there. As you can see, I still have the article which drew me there.  I keep it folded inside the recipe book. I don’t know if Lilly still bakes with her granddaughters, but tomorrow I plan to bake scones with mine!

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Apricot Scones

2 Cups flour

3 Tablespoons. sugar 

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 Cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 Cup white chocolate chips

1 1/2 Cups whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 Cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons. orange juice

Preheat oven to 400°. Line with silpat or grease baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, apricots and vanilla chips.Stir to coat apricots. Add the whipping cream and almond extract all at once and stir just until ingredients are moistened.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured cloth, turning a few times until smooth. Divide the dough in half and pat into two 6-inch rounds. Cut each round into 6 wedges. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5minutes. While the scones cool, combine powdered sugar and orange juice. Drizzle over warm scones. These are best served warm.

Lobster Bisque on a Budget

IMG_2345One of my favorite treats when we go out for a special meal is Lobster Bisque. We rarely cook fresh lobsters at home and when we do there is seldom enough leftover to add to a bisque, but now I have found a way to use other white fish in a way that will put this particular bisque on our table more often!  Joe and all three of our sons spent last week fishing near Homer, Alaska.  Happily, they brought back plenty of salmon and halibut to add to our freezer.  They also brought back a method for cooking what they call Poor Man’s Lobster!  The first fish Joe cooked was halibut cooked like this. I found there are recipes everywhere with many variations.  Almost any type firm fleshed white fish can be used – cod, haddock, monkfish.

Poor Man’s Lobster

  1. Fill a pot with water, at least 2 quarts of water..
  2. Add 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Do not ever stir the mixture.
  4. Add chunks of halibut, do not over crowd.
  5. They will sink to the bottom, and then rise to the top when they are done.
  6. It should take just a few minutes.
  7. Remove with slotted spoon.
  8. Remember do not stir the mixture.
  9. Continue until all the halibut is cooked.
  10. Dip in melted butter and eat!

We had plenty of this, drizzled with lemon butter, and heaped on some crusty French bread. It really does taste like lobster!

We had a sandwich bag of leftover fish, so I made this wonderful Lobster Bisque the next day for our lunch. Feel free to use the real thing, but the Poor Man’s Lobster worked for us. Don’t let the long list of ingredients and directions fool you.  It is easy, and the results are worth any effort!

Lobster Bisque on a Budget

  • 6 to 8 ounces lobster broken into small chunks
  • 2 shallots,  minced
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup  white wine
  • 1 T Worcestershire  Tabasco
  • 2 Tablespoons  dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cup half and half
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  1. Saute shallots, onions, and garlic about a minute in a sauce pan00000
  2. Add white wine and stir to combine..
  3. Add Worcestershire, Tabasco, and thyme and saute for another minute.
  4. Add sherry and stir
  5. Add the paprika, hot water, bay leaves, and tomato paste, combine well.
  6. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Whisk in whipping cream,half and half  and the butter and bring to a simmer
  8. Add the lobster and heat through.
  9. Serve with crusty garlic bread.

Funnel Cakes

I am sure most of you have seen these because they are so popular at booths in county and state fairs. This is one recipe I really not regret having a photo as well as a video to share with you!  The process is fun, the results dramatic, and very quickly disappear at our house.

Funnel Cakes

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4  teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

your preference salad oil for frying

powdered sugar to use as topping

Mix dry ingredients in bowl, combine egg and milk, add to dry ingredients, and beat until smooth.. In a deep cast iron skillet,,heat 1 inch of oil.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into a funnel using your finger to cover the opening. .

Hold the funnel filled with batther over the heated oil, being careful not to spatter hot oil , remove your finger and slowly release the batter beginning in the center of the skillet and moving outward in a spiral. Brown 2 minutes, until golden crisp and puffy.  It will not be perfect, but the uneven spiral with its crispy goodness is perfectly delicious!  Repeat the process until all your batter has been used. You will have 5 or 6 funnel cakes, depending on size.  Drain well on paper towels, slide onto serving dish with wide spatula, and sift or sprinkle powdered sugar over top. Serve while hot.

YouTube videos of this are available for watching if you wish before you try this on your own.

Baked Antipasto Ring

IMG_1815There are so many recipes that use crescent roll dough as the ingredient which makes the recipe both quick and delicious. This antipasto ring is simple enough to make for supper on a busy night and just right  for an appetizer for guests. Everyone loves antipasto, and you can stuff this pastry with a variety of antipasto ingredients.

Baked Antipasto Ring

2 cans crescent roll dough (I like to use Immaculate Baking Company’s product

1/2  cup well drained roasted red bell peppers, about 4 pieces

8 slices provolone cheese, halved

1/4 pound sliced peppered salami

1/4 pound prosciutto

1/4 pound sliced deli ham

pickled yellow hot pepper rings

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped

optional:  sliced black or kalamata olives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 8 rectangles. On ungreased 12-inch pizza pan, arrange rectangles in ring so short sides of rectangles form a circle in center. (Dough will overlap and part of the ends will hang over edge of pan. Dough ring should resemble a sun.)

Spread roasted red bell peppers towards center of ring on bottom halves of rectangles. Top with half of the cheese. Layer salami, ham and prosciutto slices over cheese. Arrange pepper rings over top. Sprinkle with olives if desired. Cover with remaining half of cheese.

Bring each dough rectangle hanging over side of pan up over stacked filling, tucking dough under bottom layer of dough to secure it. Repeat around sandwich until entire filling is enclosed. Sprinkle with black peppe and chopped fresh rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before slicing.

Indoor S’Mores

IMG_1333Jordann is enjoying one of their campfire S’Mores, which are without doubt the best kind.  But some of us don’t do much camping, and even if you have a wood-burning fireplace, you might decide there are times when these gooey, chocolate treats can’t be made over a fire. That is when you can try Indoor S’Mores, iron skillet style.  This makes generous servings for 2. Just double the recipe if your family is larger.  If you double, be sure to use a larger skillet. You may even like this “fondue” so well you try making it this way over your next campfire!

1 small bag cocolate hcips

8 large marshmallows

a jar of Nutella

Graham crackers

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter or coat with cooking spray the bottom of a 6 inch iron skillet.  Cover the bottom with chocolate chips and drop a few spoonfuls of Nutella on top of the chocolate chips.  Cut marshmallows in half and arrange on top of chocolate. Place in oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, until marshamallows are golden brown.

Scoop out the melted chocolate and marshmallows with graham crackers.

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Mushroom Stroganoff

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I have made a variety of Beef Stroganoff recipes over the years.  In fact, it is one of the first recipes I remember trying early in my marriage that seemed fancy when I was cooking for guests. I think that although it became popular in the U.S. in the 1950’s, until I made it the first time I had never eaten it before and loved it from first taste. Our family has always loved buttered noodles as a side; we like mushrooms, so I am not sure why I never just left out the meat.  But I tried this recently and it will be my favorite way to make Stroganoff now.  It also has the benefit of being much simpler to prepare and fairly low in calories, if not carbs!

Granmary’s Mushroom Stroganoff

2 Tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp  flour

2 cups chicken stock

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon tomato paste (I keep a tube of tomato paste in the refrigerator for recipes which only need a small amount.)

16 ounces sliced baby Bella mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I use Penzey’s French Thyme)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons white wine or sherry

2 Tablespoons sour cream

8 ounces uncooked thick, yolkless egg noodles:

Optional:  parsley and shaved Parmesan for topping
Bring a pot of water to boil, add 2 teaspoons salt, then add noodles.  Cook according to package directions, minus a minute or two.  Under-cooking them allows for adding to the sauce to finish cooking. Drain noodles in colander and set aside until sauce is ready.

While heating water and cooking noodles, in  a large saucier or skillet, melt butter and add onions. . Cook 2 – 3 minutes, then add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds. Then gradually add chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste, stirring to keep mixture smooth as it begins to thicken. Keep stirring and add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir continuously, simmering for at least 5 minutes or until thickened and bubbling.

Add flour; stir with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds. Gradually add broth, Worcestershire, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir and cook 4-5 minutes or until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly.  Add wine or sherry, stir, and continue cooking for 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and noodles. Garnish with parsley and shaved Parmesan if desired.