Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pancakes

These are delicious tender pancakes that are really meant to be eaten in a stack with a big drizzle of honey or syrup and maybe a pat of butter. We also like them with powdered sugar and strawberries on top. They are quite yummy and easy to make. Try them!

Tender Buttermilk Pancakes
I make a half-batch for the kids and myself and we usually have a couple left over. The next day I pop one in the toaster and eat it with peanut butter and jelly on top...yum!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon extra for brushing griddle
Preheat an electric griddle to 375°F, or place a griddle pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons melted butter, and whisk to combine. The batter should have small to medium lumps. Do not overmix.
Rub the pan or griddle with the extra butter. Spoon/pour about 1/4 cup batter in pools 2 inches apart. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip them over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Corn "Muffins" in a Madeline Pan

You can bake any muffin or bread recipe in a fun madeline shape and it instantly turns into something special and fun to eat. These make perfect-sized nibbles to go with a cup of coffee or tea and are just right for a kid-sized snack.
We have done traditional madelines, chocolate cake, banana bread and more in this pan. Today we tried corn muffins. They tasted great and they freeze really well too. I made a half-batch and it worked beautifully.

Corn Muffins with Buttermilk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups coarse cornmeal
1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350F. Generously grease 24 standard muffin cups or line them with disposable muffin wrappers.
Pour the butter, buttermilk, and eggs into the large bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt on top. Mix at medium speed just until the ingredients are combined and not lumpy. Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full with the batter. Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 12 to 15 minutes and lightly brown; they should spring back when you touch the tops lightly with your fingertips. Adjust baking time for mini-muffins or madeline pan.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Menu Planning for a Crowd - Egg Salad


Hosting a party, dinner, bbq, or coffee hour at church, as I did today, can be daunting unless you have a plan of attack. It took a few years for me to perfect my strategy and avoid working into the wee hours of the night the day before to finish everything on time. Creating a menu and shopping list is the first step to having a successful and stress free event. Choosing some dishes that can be made ahead of time helps immensely. Today's menu contains items that can be served at a brunch-type meal, appeal to children as well as adults, travel well, and are easy to serve. Here is the menu:
Lentil Soup
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Spinach Dip
Apple Danish
Banana Bread
Pumpkin Bread
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jello
Juice/Coffee/Soda
  • Soup is always a hit at our church. I have taken this lentil soup in the past and people absolutely love it. Today is a little crisp outside, so I knew this soup would go over well. I made two large pots, served them in medium-sized cups and they were gone instantly! Soup is also a good choice since it is best made a day ahead and reheated. The flavors get a chance to meld and develop. Plus it can be transferred to crock pots and kept warm throughout the event.
  • Egg Salad is good choice since the eggs can be boiled days ahead. I boiled mine two days ahead. The day before I peeled them, the night before I added the rest of the ingredients, and I assembled right before serving. These sandwiches are quick and easy to assemble since most of the flavor is already mixed into the filling. You can make these even fancier by serving them on mini croissants or trimming the crust off and slicing them into finger sandwiches.
  • Apple Danish or any fruit pie can be assembled ahead of time, stored in the freezer, and baked the night before or the morning of the event. I made the danish 4 days early and froze it. I popped it in the oven the night before and it turned out just as beautifully as ever.
  • Bundt cakes and breads can be made weeks ahead and frozen. Simply pull them out the day before and leave on the counter to defrost. They taste as fresh as the day you baked them. Sometimes I even pop them in a warm oven for a few minutes and you have fresh, warm bread to serve. Delicious!
  • Dips are also good choices because they also benefit from an overnight rest in the fridge. Spinach dip needs at least 4-6 hours to allow the vegetable soup mix to soften and the flavors to incorporate.
Egg Salad for a Crowd
This is an easy and economical choice when serving a crowd. Tuna and chicken salad are also easy options for a large crowd.
60 eggs
2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
3 T dijon mustard
2 T yellow mustard
2 cups green onions, sliced thinly
salt
pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Bring eggs up to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes and then turn off the burner and leave eggs in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Peel right away if needed or store in the fridge for a few days before the event.
Peel eggs and chop into 1/2 inch cubes. In a separate bowl combine all remaining ingredients. Fold into egg mixture. Adjust seasoning to taste. I added a little extra mustard and salt to mine. Serve on rye bread, croissants, or your favorite bread with a little arugula or lettuce if desired.

To make a smaller portion adjust amounts to:
6 eggs
1/4 c mayo
1 t dijon mustard
1 t mustard
1 t lemon juice
1/4 cup green onions
salt/pepper

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ricotta Drop Donuts

We made these delicious donuts the other morning for breakfast. They were terrific, tender, and especially easy. These are drop donuts, that means there was no rolling out dough, cutting, or clean-up...score!! Besides taking care of the oil mess, these were as easy as making pancakes. The kids loved them. Gabe kept saying "I didn't know we could make donuts at home. Mom, promise you will always make these!" It was cute. I served these with fresh raspberry jam  for dipping and it was an even bigger hit.
Ricotta Drop Donuts
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
3 eggs
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for frying
Confectioners' sugar
Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar, lemon zest, eggs, ricotta and vanilla, mixing just enough to combine. Try not to overmix. The batter can be used immediately or stored up to 1 day covered in the refrigerator.
To fry, heat at least 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until a deep-fat thermometer registers 360 degrees F. Drop tablespoon-size dollops directly into the oil and fry for about 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter. Let cool slightly. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Roasted Veggie Flatbread with Ricotta and Pine Nuts

This flatbread is really delicious and many of the elements can be made ahead of time making assembly a snap later on. I made fresh pesto earlier in the day, freezing some for easy pasta dinners later on, and I used the leftover pesto for this fresh flatbread. I also roasted the veggies ahead of time which left very little to clean up once dinner was over. You could do the veggies a few days ahead and, if you're like me, you'd do extra and use some for an omelet or inside a sandwich on another day. I always like to make things that can be used in multiple ways.

Roasted Veggie Flatbread with Ricotta and Pine Nuts
Use this recipe for the pesto.
Use your favorite pizza dough recipe or this recipe which is really good.
Roast your favorite vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper at 400 degrees until tender (This takes about 30 minutes.) I used 1 red onion, 1 red pepper, and a yellow squash today. Zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, green peppers, and mushrooms are also really good on this pizza.
pizza dough
2 T pesto
1 cup roasted veggies
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Shape your dough into rectangles about 6 inches wide by 15-18 inches long. I usually dust the counter with a little cornmeal mixed with a little flour. This gives the dough a nice texture on the bottom. Spread a tablespoon or two on the dough. Spread veggie mixture on top of the pesto. Toast 1/4 cup of pine nuts and sprinkle on top of the veggies. Add a few dollops of ricotta cheese on the pizza and finish with a handful of mozzarella cheese. Place in a 500 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cheesy Grits with Shrimp, Leeks, and Asparagus

I liked this combination even better than I thought I would. The fresh corn in these grits was really terrific and everything tasted fresh. It was a big hit at dinner! Is tomorrow too soon to make this again???

Cheesy Grits
I thought I had regular grits in the pantry but when I started dinner I realized I was out. So, I substituted Cream of Wheat style grits that cook in 2 1/2 minutes and they actually worked out perfectly. So I am including this variation.
2 cups water
2 cups milk
3/4 cup cream of wheat
Fresh corn : I cut the kernels from 2 ears and it was the perfect amount
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 T butter
3/4 cup sharp cheddar
Bring liquids and salt to a boil. Slowly add grits while whisking to prevent lumps. Add fresh corn and cook for 2 1/2 minutes. Turn heat off and add butter, pepper, and cheese.

Shrimp with asparagus topping
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
3 slices bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups asparagus spears
1/2 cup leeks, sliced thinly
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a large saute pan add 1 T oil and 1 T butter. Saute bacon and leeks until bacon begins to brown. Add asparagus and garlic. Add shrimp and cook until light pink on both sides, season to taste.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

No Knead Bread with Beer

I've made the original no knead bread many times and I love it. This time I used beer in place of the water and the results were tasty. This bread is great for many reasons, but I love the crisp crust you get on the outside and the tender bites on the inside.

No Knead Beer Bread
3 cups white flour
3/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups beer

Place the flour,yeast, and salt in a medium sized bowl and stir. Add the beer to the bowl and stir until flour is incorporated. The dough will look kind of rough but that is okay. Coat the inside of a large bowl with oil. Take the dough, form into a ball, coat with more oil and place in oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day take a piece of parchment paper and add a little flour to it. Turn the dough out onto it. Fold over a few times and then let sit for an hour. 20 minutes before baking turn oven on 450 degrees and place a dutch oven inside to heat up. Once heated, cut the dough with a knife or kitchen shears across the top, and place bread (parchement paper and all) into the dutch oven. Cover with the lid for the first 30 minutes, uncover and bake another 15 minutes or so (bread should be 210 degrees in the middle).

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