Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Spoon Drop Inn is closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, because we have traveled North to spend some much-needed quality time with these handsome guys: 

The refrigerator is fully stocked with food and ingredients for more food, so  you can be sure there is plenty of cooking and baking going on! Not sure how much time we will be able to devote to blogging about it though, so you'll have to use your imagination: if it makes your mouth water and your tummy happy, we are most likely making it. :)

We'd love to hear from you this week! Please leave a comment on our page about your family's favorite Thanksgiving dish, or about something you are especially thankful for this year. We're thankful that God has filled our lives with so much color and flavor, for the joy of being around the table together with our incredible family, and for you. Have a wonderful, delicious, and blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Friday, November 21, 2014

A perfect soufflé

Yesterday, Mom made her first soufflé. As far as I can tell, the Soufflé seems to be the most high-maintenance dish to make. Even when you follow the complex recipe to a tee, there is no guarantee it is going to cooperate. So, with great attention and care, and all of us whispering through the process, she boldly attempted this grand feat.

My general knowledge about soufflés prior to this adventure came primarily from "chick flicks." In Sabrina, Audrey Hepburn has to go to cooking school in France and meet a charming old baron in order to learn this valuable soufflé proverb: "A woman happily in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven." In another movie, Because I Said So, Mandy Moore can only make a perfect soufflé when she is completely content and comfortable with who she really is. It may just be because these are both incredibly girly movies, but it seems that the success of a soufflé is closely related to the well-being of the chef...

Broccoli Soufflé (variation of the Spinach Soufflé on p. 427 of the BCC): If you don't believe me when I call this thing high maintenance, just check out the 12-step process that will use up every bowl and spoon in your kitchen... First, cook, chop, and drain the broccoli. Second, cook and stir a sauce of butter, flour, salt, pepper, and milk until smooth, then add onion, salt and nutmeg. Third, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixer bowl until stiff. Fourth, beat egg yolks "until very thick and lemon colored" in another mixer bowl. Then you stir this mixture into the sauce mixture. Then you stir the broccoli into that mixture. Then you stir in 1/4 the egg white mixture into that mixture. Then you gently fold in the rest of the egg white mixture. Then you carefully pour the whole thing into your casserole or soufflé dish. Then you set the dish in a pan of 1" deep water. Then you bake it. But wait! That's not all... the recipe says "Bake...until puffed and golden and until a silver knife inserted halfway between the edge and center comes out clean" (italics added by Connie for dramatic effect).

Here's the before and after pictures of Mom's soufflé:

The "after" picture is of course after we ate quite a bit of it... We were just following the directions that said to serve it immediately, and couldn't take the time to snap a picture, for fear the flash would cause it to fall. As you can see it was a success! So light and fluffy, creamy inside, and simply delightful to eat! What do you think that says about the well-being of our favorite chef? :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guest Post: Oven Fried Chicken

Today's post is a brief review from a long-time family friend, Glenda. She's been following our blog, and gives us feedback frequently about favorite BCC recipes. Thanks, Glenda, for your love and support!

Oven-Fried Chicken (from p. 284 of the BCC): It is always really good and fall-of-the-bone tender.  I make it often, with mashed potatoes and veggies. I even got a kiss on the cheek from Brandon for it! Have to add though, it is nothing like fried, but definitely roasted!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chili, chips, 'n' cheese!

Since it was quite "chilly" today, we decided it was a great day for "chili." Nothing like a cold snap to put you in the mood to eat something warm and comforting. The traditional Chandler family favorite chili just so happens to be the BCC recipe, so this isn't new for us, but it is tried and true, so we want to share it with you!

Chili con Carne with Tomatoes (from p. 294 of the BCC): First off, we think the name is kind of silly... after all, what is a chili, if it doesn't have "carne" (meat) and tomatoes? Anyway, at least those aren't the only ingredients. We put together ground beef, chopped onions, chopped green pepper, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, salt, cayenne red pepper, paprika, and kidney beans. Then slow cook it for two hours. 

Mom also added in some corn relish from Trader Joe's (Amanda's idea), which made it a little sweeter, and I really liked it. And we love to individually add shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips to our preference. Mom likes extra sour cream, I like extra cheese, and Dad just likes extra... chili! (He refilled his bowl a couple times.) We hope you and your family will stay warm and enjoy this special recipe this winter.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What makes a pie special

Well, we told you we would bake through all the apple pie variations in the BCC, so here's another one - new to us, but quite delicious! 

Apple-Pecan Pie (variation of Apple Pie on p. 321 of the BCC): Follow the 10-inch pie recipe, but add in chopped pecans and 10 more minutes of baking time. The thing that makes this pie really special is the Crunchy Pecan Glaze on top, which is made up of brown sugar, copped pecans, and light cream cooked on low heat.  You spread this on top of the pie while it is still warm... soooooo good! 

Actually, the thing that really makes pie special and sweet is when you get to share it with dear friends. Mom's ladies Bible study came over last night - ladies who are some of Mom's best friends, and who are like family to me. They all enjoyed this dessert with coffee and fellowship, and Miss Ann said it was "Amazing!" Last night the ladies shared stories with each other about their faith and salvation. It is so beautiful, that because of the new life they all share in Christ, this special sisterhood can gather around the table to listen and pray, laugh and cry, and love and encourage one another.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

And now, the Acorn Squash!

When I went to my small group on Sunday night, Wendy, My Produce Lady, offered to send home two acorn squash with me, for Mom to do something amazing with. After the success we had with Wendy's eggplant a few weeks ago, I had full confidence in her acorn squash. I called Mom to confirm that it was a good idea, and by the time I got home, Mom had found this great little recipe for acorn squash in the old-reliable BCC...

Nutty Baked Squash (from p. 439 of the BCC): We cut one acorn squash in half and removed the gooey innards - I mean, the seeds and fibers. Then we mixed cracker crumbs, chopped pecans, and a little butter, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg together. Then we filled the squash halves with the mixture and baked them in a dish for about a half hour.

Mom grilled some chicken to go with the squash dish, and we had a lovely dinner together. Dad is out of town this week, so we thought a squash-for-two would be just right for us. It tasted AMAZING! The salty crackers and pecans, the sweet brown sugar, the subtly spicy nutmeg... the crunch of the crumbs, the melt of the butter, and the squish of the squash... so many delightful sensations for the tongue! And doesn't it just look beautiful and festive?

We scooped out the leftovers and put them in a Tupperware to warm up later, and we still have another acorn squash to work some magic with. Thank you, Wendy, for this delicious opportunity!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guest Post: For Wes' Sake

Today's post is brought to you by our friend, Wendy Sult, who ordered her 1976 ed. of the BCC after she started reading our blog! Thanks, Wendy, for joining us in this adventure!

In keeping with the theme of the blog, I could easily call this entry "For Wes' Sake."  Per Wes, he had eaten nothing but junk for the better part of five days (in my defense, the Fair was in town!), so I decided to add a Betty Crocker recipe to the meal plan for the week.  Me being me, I scanned the cookbook for the simplest, lowest-risk dish I could find and there on page 306 I found it - Breast of Chicken on Rice. What could be complicated or scary about that?  I tend to like recipes with five ingredients or less. This particular one had six, so I omitted the mushrooms to make it easier.

Who am I kidding?  I hate mushrooms and those babies had to go!  Anyway, moving on...

To make this recipe even more attractive, I noticed that all I really had to do was mix a bunch of ingredients together, pour it in the dish, stick the chicken on top, and pour a little more.  That's it. Voila!  Call me Betty Crocker!  

Okay, that may be going a bit far, but the truth is that the recipe is a "minimum input, maximum output" kind of dish.  It was excellent comfort food that smelled amazing baking in the oven.  We paired it with a recipe from the pages of the Diana Chandler Cookbook - Green Bean Supreme (if you aren't familiar with it, that must change, pronto!) and some sliced apples.  

Excuse the picture of the partially empty baking dish.  SOMEONE, who shall remain nameless, was hungry. :-)

All joking aside, I do tend to make new dishes from time to time.  Most are fine for a one-time thing, but I rarely find one that I want to keep using. They seem to be lacking flavor and I am just not kitchen savvy enough to figure out how to fix it.  Wes insisted that this one must go in our reciperotation.  Yes, it was that good.  The only thing I would change is the amount of rice used.  I would beef that up a bit and we would be set.  What can I say?  My man loves rice.

Looking forward to another rendezvous with Betty's recipes soon...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Le Spoon Drop Café

This week we decided to explore our French side a little bit. We haven't done a drink recipe since the refreshing Orange Swizzle for our Labor Day picnic, we thought it was time for a warm drink, and we got very excited when we found the French Chocolate recipe. And it became an inspiration for our Halloween theme this year.

Let me just explain here that Halloween at the Chandler house has never been a "ghouls-and-goblins" affair. Growing up, my brothers and I took Halloween as a creative make-your-own-costume opportunity. I think my most memorable costume was Sleeping Beauty - with a nightgown, satin slippers, and red lipstick, laying down in a red wagon, pretending to be asleep. One year, Kevan was the Lone Ranger, and Andrew made a cardboard horse for the side of his wheelchair. Andrew was the master of disguise, and still is. From the scarecrow, to the Rocketeer, to the Flash, his costumes were always impressive. Halloween is just a time of good, clean creativity (and chocolate) for our family. 

So this year, Mom made a little French café in our parlor, we dressed up as French as we could, we put a kerchief on our handsome Beau puppy, and made French Chocolate.

French Chocolate (from p. 36 of the BCC): This is a 4-stage recipe. You begin by making the chocolate sauce, which is just chocolate chips, corn syrup, water, and vanilla stirred together over low heat on the stove until smooth. Stick that in the fridge to chill. Then you make some whipped cream in a chilled bowl, and gradually add in the chilled chocolate sauce to the mixture, so you're basically making a chocolate fluff. Stick that in the fridge to stay chilled. Then you heat milk on the stove, but do not boil it. Then, you fill half a cup with the chilled fluff, and  pour the hot milk over it, then stir. What you end up with is an incredibly smooth, foamy hot chocolate drink! It was so delicious, I will never be able to drink "Swiss Miss" hot cocoa mix again.

The recipe recommends: "Serve in your best china cups for a note of elegance on a special day." We did this, and while the cups just weren't big enough to hold a satisfactory amount of chocolate, it did indeed add a note of elegance. I would add to the recommendation: "Wear French-style outfits and pretend to sip your drink at a Parisian café." It makes the whole experience all the more delightful!

Bon appetit!