Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Whole Wheat Pancakes

I have a number of good pancake recipes, and this is not my favorite of them. However, these pancakes are healthy, and the recipe is so easy that kids can make them with minimal mess.

(adapted from A Pinch of Salt Lake)
Makes 3 servings.

1 cup wheat kernels
1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk, divided
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Blend wheat and 1 cup milk or buttermilk in blender on high speed for 4 minutes.
2. Add remaining 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk and the rest of the ingredients.
3. Blend, stopping blender once to scrape sides.
4. Cook on lightly greased preheated griddle.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I love apples - all apples. There I said it. Who can resist a slice of hot apple pie? Hubby want dutch apple, FIL wanted a turnover and I just wanted apples. So I dug into my files and found 3 recipes from grams, a vintage magazine and an old friend. I had never made any of these. Mainly because alone they weren't all that interesting. They needed some UMPF! so I combined the parts I liked best from all three and came up with my version of Sour Cream Dutch Apple Pie. Together they were awesome.

3+ cups apples, cored, peeled and chopped
lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 small egg, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream (not light)
9 inch pastry shell, pre-baked and cooled
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, sliced extremely thin
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Chop the apples and combine with just enough lemon juice to coat and prevent browning in large bowl.
  • In a small bowl sift together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  • Fold in the sour cream, egg, vanilla and maple extract until well blended.
  • Fold the sour cream mixture into the apples until well coated.
  • Carefully pour into the pie shell, mounding towards the center.
  • Toss together the topping ingredients until well blended.
  • Sprinkle topping evenly over the apple mound.
  • Lay the pieces of butter all over the top.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender.
  • Best served with ice cream or fresh whipped cream. If you want to be really decadent try it with Caramel Sauce.

Taste & Create: No Knead Bread

Taste & Create is a fabulously fun food blog event created by my friend Nicole, of For the Love of Food. Participants are randomly paired off, and you have to make something from your partner's blog. Easy and super fun! Sign up and tell all your friends!

Go here to find out how to sign up, by the 8th of each month.

My partner this month is Gerry of Foodness Gracious. I have to say I love that blog name!! After perusing his blog again and again, I was really tempted by his Buffalo Chicken Wraps. I WILL make them. But for now, being a huge fan of Artisan Bread 5-minutes-a-day method, I decided to try his No-Knead Bread as a comparison.

I will say that the Artisan Bread is much easier, and has the advantage of making a big batch of dough all at once and storing it in the refrigerator. The No-Knead Bread has a lot more rising time (12-18 hours and then 15 minutes and then 2 hours) compared to the Artisan Bread's time (3 to 5 hours, then 40 minutes each loaf). I also typically get a lot more rise out of the Artisan Bread. I don't think the No-Knead dough even doubled. Mine certainly didn't press against the plastic wrap like Gerry's did.

There are also less steps to the Artisan Bread, just measure & mix, let rise, quickly form and rise, then bake. With this No-Knead Bread, you measure & mix, let rise (for more than double the amount of time), then flour and rise, then cornmeal and rise, prep the baking dish, and finally bake. I am hoping to get a decent loaf that is worth the extra effort! (including laundry)

I have a similar-to-Le-Creuset enameled cast iron pot, and although I was worried it might be too big, that is what I decided to use. *Glad I did, because I went to the original post and found the required pot size to be 6-8 quart.*

So. I baked the bread. It looked promising. I wish I had listened to my instincts and used Kosher salt, instead of plain sea salt. Or maybe more salt. The bread looks good, but it ends up being covered in cornmeal. I don't mind cornmeal on the bottom that mostly gets tapped off, but cornmeal almost everywhere is a bit gritty for my taste.

The problem for me is that I'm comparing this loaf to my consistently fabulous Artisan bread loaves. The flavor of this bread just doesn't compare. And then there's the texture of the cornmeal overall, it's just too much. This bread has promise, and it's a decent, crusty loaf with a great consistency and crumb, but it's just not very flavorful. Factor in the huge amount of time (inactive time, but time all the same) and I'm just not convinced it's worth it for me, especially when it gives me two more towels that need to be washed.

*This is not to say that you won't see me eating this entire loaf of bread, on my own if I have to. I said it was decent and crusty, I didn't say it was bad...

A bread that creates its own laundry needs to be spectacular...and I'm sad to say this loaf wasn't.

So please, you try it if you'd like to. Use Kosher salt, or more salt, less cornmeal, figure it out. Lots of people love this bread, and I have nothing against them. I simply prefer mine. And you should try my favorite recipe too. Let me know what you think!

And Gerry, I'll definitely be back for those Buffalo Chicken Wraps!!

No-Knead Bread
(you can see Gerry's recipe here, attributed to The Amateur Gourmet)

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups of warm water (I used a bit more, TAG suggests 1 5/8 cups)

Mix all the dry stuff into a large size bowl (with room to rise) and then add the water and mix roughly with your hands. (I used my dough whisk). Cover with plastic wrap and leave for at least 12 hours or more if you can. (mine did not rise as much as I expected)

After that, turn out the dough onto a well-floured work surface and roughly turn into itself to form a ball, cover (I used same plastic wrap) and let rest for 15 minutes.

Spread a clean towel with cornmeal and sit the dough on top. More cornmeal for the top of the dough and another towel to cover. Leave for another two hours.

Meanwhile 30 minutes before the two hour mark, turn on the oven to 450 degrees F and put in your 6-8 quart Dutch oven/Pyrex/ceramic dish and lid and let it get hot in the last 30 minutes. (Gerry used the ceramic inside part of a crock pot; I used my enameled cast iron Dutch oven, similar to Le Creuset). At 2 hours pull out the dish and plop the dough in, lid goes back on and in the oven for 30 minutes. Take of the lid and bake for another 20 - 30 minutes until nice and golden.

Remove to a rack and let it rest for at least 30 minutes, then enjoy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spicy Chicken with Peppers & Basil

Happy May!  Can you believe we're already to the half-way point of May?!  Before you know it, it'll be 4th of July.  Where does the time go?!

Back in February, I made a recipe that called for fresh basil.  And, of course, all I could find was a gigantor package of fresh basil at the store, so the hunt for recipes that included basil was on!  I told the hubs it was his responsibility to find a recipe and low and behold, we actually came up with the same one (but don't tell him I looked for a recipe, too, because he'll say I didn't have faith in him).  Thanks to Food Network, I get to share this great recipe with all of you!

Spicy Chicken with Peppers and Basil
2 cups Jasmine rice, prepared to directions on the package
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 Tbsp wok or light colored oil
1 Tbsp hot chile oil
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 small to medium onion, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp fish sauce
20 leaves fresh sweet basil, torn

Place rice on the stove top to cook.

Cut chicken on an angle across the breast into thin strips.  Cut strips across into bite size pieces.  Set chicken aside.  Wash hands and cutting board.

When the rice is 6 or 7 minutes away from being done, begin your stir fry.

Heat a wok, wok-shaped skillet, or large nonstick skillet over high heat.  When the pan smokes, add wok or light cooking oil, and hot chile oil.  Sprinkle in crushed red pepper flakes.  Add chicken and stir fry 2 minutes.  Add onions, red bell peppers, and garlic and stir fry for 1 or 2 more minutes.  Add fish sauce.  Remove the pan from heat and add basil.  Toss chicken dish until basil wilts.

Serve chicken and peppers with prepared rice.

Very colorful and easy to make!  I can guarantee that it was easy to make because as a rule, the hubs does not make things that require a recipe.  And I don't remember actually making this, so it's a good chance he made it.  It was not too spicy, but my kids probably would've thought it was too spicy for them.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it as spicy or as bland as you want.

Happy eating!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Apple Nut Muffins

Arrived home recently with about an hour to prepare treats for a meeting. With no time to run to the store, I thought perhaps I could make muffins with the banana ripening on top of the microwave. However, one banana wasn't enough for the recipes in my periphery.

Fortunately, my eye noticed a recipe for apple muffins next to Joy of Cooking's recipe for banana nut muffins, and my brain remembered the somewhat shriveled apples that had escaped last week's fridge clean-out. Perfect!

The muffins are flavored less by the apples than by the cinnamon. However, the apples provide fiber and allow less fat to be used in the recipe than is found in many muffins.


(Modified from Joy of Cooking)

2 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ cups packed coarsely grated peeled apples (about 2 medium), with any juice

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Scant ½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil

1. Whisk eggs and sugar together in a large bowl.

2. Stir in grated apples and let stand for 10 minutes.

3. In medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

4. Stir nuts into dry ingredients.

5. Once the apples have stood for 10 minutes, stir in the melted butter.

6. Add the flour mixture and fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

7. Grease or line either a pan for 12 regular-size muffins or 3 pans that each make 12 tiny muffins.

8. Bake in 400°F oven for 14 to 16 minutes for the larger muffins or 7 to 8 minutes for the tiny muffins.

9. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from the pan. If not serving hot, let cool on a rack. Serve as soon as possible, preferably the day they are baked.

NOTE: Apples with shriveled skins work just fine in this recipe.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Taste & Create Partner List

Here is the May Taste & Create partner list! Sorry for the delay. Welcome to all the participants, it's nice to see some new as well as familiar faces! I am helping Nicole again this month, she has some big projects on her plate!

Please remember to submit your creations to Nicole's Taste & Create website by May 24th, 2011!

If you have any questions or problems, check out the How it Works page, or please feel free to email
me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Can't wait to see what you create!

The Teenage Taste & Comfy Cook's Kosher Kitchen

No Reason Needed & Eat Laugh Love

The Bad Girl's Kitchen & Foodness Gracious

The Life and Love of Grumpy's Honeybunch & Bizzy B. Bakes

Friday, May 6, 2011

Goat Cheese, Strawberry & Spinach Salad

I found this recipe in a roundabout way. Dave, of My Year on the Grill, posted a comment on Facebook about Joanne, of Eats Well With Others, and her fabulous salad. Dave and Joanne and I have all been contributors over at Our Krazy Kitchen, which is how I got to know them. So anyway. Dave commented on Joanne's new post on a new blog called Marcus Samuelsson, which was about this fabulous salad and the rest is history.

I served this salad as an accompaniment to Grilled Balsamic-Marinated Flank Steak for Number One's birthday dinner. It was excellent. I do have to say that this recipe's "serves 4" is way more than I could eat, even if salad was all we had for dinner. Just so you know. Actually, we have so much leftover that we are going to eat it for dinner again tomorrow, with strips of flank steak (also leftover) on top. Perfect. I love it when dinner is already made.

*They don't sell fresh basil at our teeny tiny grocery store, so I sprinkled some dried basil on top along with the sea salt. Yum.

Because it was a birthday dinner, we also had a luscious 2-layer chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting for dessert. Topped off with one of our precious bottles of wine self-imported from France, and it was quite a meal!

Goat Cheese, Strawberry, and Spinach Salad

Serves 4-6, adapted from Bon Appetit April 2011

1 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight or 1 (14 oz) can white beans
1 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1 bunch asparagus, ends cut off and chopped into two-inch pieces
8 oz soft goat cheese or chevre
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly
8 cups spinach, either chopped regular spinach or baby spinach
1/2 cup small fresh basil leaves
Fine sea salt

1. If using dried white beans, drain them from the water you’ve soaked them in overnight. Put them in a pot. Cover them with water with about a 2-inch overhang. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer until tender, 30-60 minutes depending on the beans. If using canned beans, then drain the beans and rinse them.

2. While the beans are cooking, put 1 cup balsamic vinegar (I used aged balsamic vinegar of Modena) in a small non-reactive pan. Bring to a simmer and reduce until syrupy, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.

3. When the white beans are pretty much done cooking, drop your asparagus into the white bean water and cook for 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, you can bring a second pot of water to a boil and cook them for 1-2 minutes. Drain both the white beans and the asparagus.

4. In a large bowl, toss the strawberries, spinach, basil, asparagus, and white beans. Separate into four dishes and top each dish with about 2 oz goat cheese, broken into chunks, a drizzle of balsamic syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Serve as lunch or as a light dinner.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hot Dogs with "Michigan Sauce"

The television was on for some reason the other day, and Rachael Ray started talking about "Michigan Sauce." What??? She claimed it was a hot dog topping...I'm a Michigan native, and I've never heard of it. Huh. Then she proceeded to make a "mac & cheese" and mix it with the "Michigan meat sauce," where she lost me. Ick. Then she put it all on top of a hot dog. Blech.

Honestly, I was intrigued by the first HALF of the recipe, the so-called "Michigan Sauce." It took some searching to find the right recipe on her website, but here it is. I have taken the liberty to omit everything to do with that mac & cheese debacle. We will top our hot dogs with this meat sauce and see what happens. Everyone loves a good chili dog.

I did a little more research on this mystery "Michigan sauce," and was surprised to find some information...it's not from Michigan at all! It's from New York or possibly somewhere else, but definitely not Michigan. In fact, wikipediastates "Oddly enough, "Michigan hot dogs" are never referred to by that name in Michigan itself, nor anywhere else in the Midwest." That explains everything!

Rachael also put the raw meat in with all the other ingredients...I wasn't sure about this. Follow the link if you'd like to see the whole original recipe...

Rachael tops her sauce with a bit of raw chopped onion...now that sounds like a good idea to me. And maybe just a bit of mustard...

okay. So to be honest and blunt, I'm NOT a fan of Rachael Ray's recipes. But I feel like, hey, she's got her own show, she's got her own burgeoning foodie products empire, there's got to be SOMETHING redeemable about one of her recipes. Someday. Right? So I try another one occasionally.

Given that I've never had/heard of Michigan sauce, I was still surprised about the consistency of the "sauce." It was much thicker than I expected, not "saucy" at all. I think that's a mistake, especially when you look at what's pictured here. I'd like it to be more saucy. I'll have to work on that. I'm wondering if Rachael made it less saucy because she ultimately mixed it with the mac and cheese...we shall never know, unless she comes to the blog and tells us. So, we shall never know. I do have another recipe for Michigan sauce that I may try...let's hope it's saucier.

I do like the spiciness of Rachael's Michigan sauce...and it was delicious topped with mustard and raw onion. Number One also had grated Cheddar on top of his, mostly because he likes cheese. I look forward to making this again, but with more liquid somehow.

"Michigan Sauce"

1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
3-4 teaspoons grated onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons Ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce (I used Cholula)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a pot over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, and simmer for 45 minutes, until very thick.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Special Tip for not-so-homemade Desserts...

My birthday was approaching. We found out one night in advance that we'd be having a couple house guests, and had plans for the actual day of my birthday, so we decided to have a special dinner with our house guests the night before my birthday.

Number One usually makes a dessert for me--of my choosing, from scratch. That's right, Whatever My Heart Desires! He will make it. He's the best. But with this last-minute change, he didn't have time. (to his credit, he did come home with a cake mix and frosting, but I had beat him to the punch.

After I dropped H-Bomb off at school that morning, I picked out a frozen cake. I decided it needed a little something extra, so I also picked up a can of country cherry pie filling. The "country" is very important here, because it means the cherries are a bit tart.

To serve, I carefully poured the cherry pie filling on a nice plate, then balanced the frozen cake on top of it at an artful angle. I stored it in the refrigerator until it was time for dessert. It was as simple as that, looked more appealing, and was very delicious.

The cherries pushed that little chocolate cake right over the top! Yum. My boys sang Happy Birthday to me, and we all enjoyed a black forest-esque cake.

I'm also envisioning a Coconut Cake atop a puddle of pineapple topping...the possibilities are endless!

*Chocolate Fudge Three-Layer Cake by Pepperidge Farm.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Potatoes with Personality

Potatoes with Personality
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoon margarine
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, sliced
1/4 cup whipped topping (believe it or not - it replace sour cream, which I did not have)
salt to taste
chives, chopped ( a handful)


In a small skillet, saute onion in margarine until golden brown. (8 minutes)
In a medium saucepan, place carrots and potatoes and cover with water.
Bring to boiling point. Lower heat and cover saucepan.
Cook for 15 minutes until tender.
Drain in colander.
Put carrots and potatoes in a baking dish. Add cooked onions.
Add the whipped topping, chives and salt and mix well.
Put in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and serve.

This was a popular dish. I have no idea how the sour cream would have worked but this was a sweeter dish, as a result of using the cream.

If you would like to learn about the personality of potatoes, stop by Bizzy B. Bakes

Gingered Watercress

I happened across a television show on the Cooking Channel called French Food at Home, where this dish was being prepared. I'd never seen the show before, never heard of the "cooking channel" before and I've never had watercress before. It looked so easy I was intrigued and decided to try it. Of course calling it French didn't hurt either!

This is an interesting side dish, and good for something a little different. The watercress stems are sort of crunchy and take on the flavor of the other ingredients (which is good, because I wasn't impressed with the raw watercress flavor). Our boys said they didn't like it, but did take a few bites each. My husband and I didn't love it, but it was pretty good.

I didn't have a fresh tomato, so I used canned diced tomatoes. If you are going to do this substitution, only use half a can. Next time I will also chop the diced tomatoes finer. I would also use a bit more ginger. On French Food at Home, she said to use about 1 inch of ginger. Measure generously.

I still don't understand why our teeny tiny grocery store carries watercress and not kale...but regardless you should try this dish for a change.

Gingered Watercress

Recipe courtesy Laura Calder

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15 min
6 servings

2 bunches fresh watercress, trimmed (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 knob (1-inch) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the cress and spin it dry. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook to paste. Add the cress, and cook down, turning occasionally with tongs, until tender, about 10 minutes. Season and serve.

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