Thursday, February 26, 2015

Playing Favorites

This morning, Mom and Dad had planned to go out for breakfast, but when we got up, this was the scene outside the window: 

So, being obviously snowed in, Mom decided to seek inspiration for a special breakfast from her trusty BCC, where she found what Betty claims to be "Favorite Coffee Cake." Not sure what makes it "the favorite" or who got to determine that it was "the favorite"... Possibly Betty's daughter? I personally think Mom should call all her recipes "the favorite."

Favorite Coffee Cake (p. 55 of the BCC): You can bake it in a round layer pan or a square 2" deep pan. It had a special topping, a mixture of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter. And to make it a Chandler family favorite, Mom added roasted pecans. And of course it's best served warm. 

It was delicious, thick and fluffy, just like the surprise snow fall we woke up to this morning. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Blondie + Peanuts = mm-mmmm-good!

Yesterday, Mom and Dad and I stayed home, wearing multiple layers of clothing and eating multiple bowls of hot soup. "If the weather continues to stay this cold," Mom said, "I won't have any choice but to do more baking!" Well, it's still cold and is steadily getting colder, so today the oven was the best source of warmth and comfort.

Mom dug out an older magazine clipping of a recipe she's never made before, but was apparently saving for an especially chilly day. From Family Circle , October 2009, on p. 14 came a delightful dessert, Peanut Butter Blondies.

Now, it's important to note that the Chandlers enjoy the "funny pages" of the newspaper more than any other page, so when I think about this dessert, I can't help but wonder, What would happen if we crossed Blondie with Peanuts??

Aaaand... voila! We get something fun and sweet and good to share with the whole family and more: 

2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c shortening
1 c peanut butter
1 lb packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 c chopped peanuts

1 lb confectioners' sugar
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c shortening
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c hot water

Heat oven to 350 deg. F.
Coat two 13x9x2" pans with cooking spray.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking power, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat shortening, PB, and brown sugar on med-high for 3 minutes.
Add eggs and beat 3 minutes more.
Add vanilla.
On low speed, beat in the flour mixture.
Stir in peanuts.
Divide batter between the two pans.
Bake at 350 deg. F. for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Let cool slightly.

Beat confectioner's sugar, PB, shortening, salt, and vanilla.
Add hot water a little at a time.
Beat until smooth.
Spread over blondies while still warm.

I must say I absolutely LOVE this dessert! And I'm pretty sure I could eat the frosting from a big bowl with a spoon, it was so amazing. And Mom loves that the recipe makes two big pans of it, so you can have one for your family and give the other away. If you're a fan of peanut butter, I highly recommend you try this out!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kale Chips

Our "produce lady," Wendy, gave Mom a bag of kale yesterday at church. We haven't really done a lot with kale at The Spoon Drop Inn, so when Mom asked for ideas, Wendy recommended "kale chips." 

Here's Wendy's Kale Chips Recipe
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 
Wash and dry kale thoroughly. 
Remove stem/ribs and tear leaves into potato chip sized pieces. 
Rub leaves lightly in olive oil. 
Lay pieces on a wire cooling rack atop a foil lined cookie sheet. 
Sprinkle with garlic salt (or powder) and grated Parmesan cheese. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until leaves are tender and edges are crispy.

Today it's cold and cloudy, with a chance of snow this afternoon, so there's chili in the crockpot, homemade bread in the oven, and a fire in the fireplace. It seemed like a good time for us to try this great healthy, tasty little snack - easy to make, and easy to eat. Thanks for the kale and the recipe, Wendy!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sweets for the Sweet

My mom made my very favorite cookies of all time this weekend... and I think it's because she loves me.

The original recipe is found on the lid of the Quaker Oats container: Quaker's Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. They're called "vanishing" because they're sooo good you can't stop eating them until they are gone. But Mom has made a few alterations to the recipe, which I think make these cookies even more irresistible. The recipe calls for 1 cup of raisins, but instead, Mom uses 1 cup of Craisins and 1 cup of chocolate chips. It also calls for 1 tsp of cinnamon, and Mom only puts in 1/2 tsp. Here's how she does it: 

1/2 c plus 6 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

3 c Quaker Oats
1 c Craisins
1 c chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 F. 
In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. 
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. 
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. 
Add oats, craisins, and chocolate chips; mix well. 
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. 
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. 
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. 
Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

As with any cookie, they are best when they are warm and gooey, right out of the oven... but I eat them any time, day or night. Try them out with your family, and see how quickly they vanish!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Golden Croquettes

We have another special recipe from Southern Living to share with you today! Again,from the Feb 2015 edition, on p. 94 - Salmon Croquettes with Dill Sauce. I absolutely love salmon, so this was a treat for me, and the dill sauce was surprisingly rich and creamy, and was a perfect companion for the croquettes. Flaky, fishy, and delicate, this dish brought a waft of summer breeze with it, which is most welcome in February, when winter is beginning to lose its charm. 

Dill Sauce: 
1 1/2 c. fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tsp. fresh lemon juice
Pinch of ground red pepper

Whisk these ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Salmon Croquettes: 
2 (14.75 oz.) cans of salmon, packed in water
2 c. finely chopped celery
4 large eggs, beaten
1 c. finely chopped onion
1-2 tsp. table salt
1-2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil 

Drain salmon; remove and discard skin and bones. Flake salmon and place in medium bowl. 
Stir celery, eggs, onion, salt and pepper into salmon. 
Shape mixture into six 4-in. patties (about 3/4 c. per patty). 
Cook patties in hot oil in a large skillet over med-high heat 5 minutes on each side until golden. 

Since it was just Mom, Dad and I, we only made half the recipe, and shaped four smaller patties. And she added sweet potato fries and a cucumber salad on the side. 

By the way, don't you just love the word "croquette"? It came from the French word croquer which means "to crunch," which is exactly what things fried in oil tend to do. I think it sounds sort of royal, especially when the recipe says they are to be "cooked until golden." Golden Croquettes... sounds like a sort of national treasure, doesn't it? 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

You say "collops," and I say "scallops"...

Returning to the BCC for a classic family home-cooked dish today, we made Scalloped Potatoes and Ham. The recipe on p. 299 says to follow the recipe on p. 435 to make scalloped potatoes or creamy scalloped potatoes, and then you add cooked ham between the layers of potatoes.

We opted for the scalloped (not creamy) potatoes, because that's the way my mom's mother made it. In Mom's words: "You just layer the sliced potatoes with flour, butter, salt and pepper, and then pour milk over it, and cook it!" And she had some ham left over from Christmas that she put into the mix.

For a bit of culinary history, you may be interested to learn that the term "scallop" is typically used in reference to the seafood, or to the rounded edges of pie crusts and things... neither of which is relevant in scalloped potatoes. The term "scalloped potatoes" actually came from the old English word "collops," which meant sliced foods. In Ireland, this particular dish was called "Potato Collops." So, it seems that some silly American must have just gotten confused or tongue-twisted, and mispronounced it at some point, and now we have a delightful little meal that has nothing to do with scallops and everything to do with collops! Oh well, potayto, potahto... collops, scallops... let's call the whole thing off and just enjoy eating this tasty food!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

To warm your heart

Today's recipe came from my favorite sister-in-law, Amanda. It was originally a Beef Tortellini Soup, but this time Mom altered the recipe slightly to make Chicken Tortellini Soup, served with homemade French bread (the bread recipe is available on special request!). It really is a wonderful way to feel warm and cozy on a cold winter day... which I know many of you up North could use this week! It cooks for a looong time, which will make your house smell incredible in the afternoon to welcome the family home from school or work.

Combine the following ingredients in a crock pot and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours:

2 chicken breasts, cut up
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. sugar
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans chicken broth

About 25 minutes before serving, add:

2 cups frozen tortellini
1 tsp of basil

At the bottom of the recipe, Amanda wrote: "This is probably one of my favorite soups of all time. Perfect when it is cold, and even better with fresh bread. Comfort food to the max!" And we couldn't agree more!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Back with a Bundt

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long lull in blogging activity. Let me assure you, our silence was not due to a lack of cooking. But most of what Mom has been creating are not recipes from the BCC. So we've decided to return with a broader vision... referring you to recipes from all sorts of resources! We will still promote the BCC and direct you to delicious dishes from its pages, but we will also reveal recipes we found in magazines, on the back of napkins and receipt slips, from old-fashioned family recipe cards, and other cookbooks... yes, maybe even The JOY of Cooking. This will give us a little more creative culinary freedom, will expand our audience, and will give you more opportunities to share with us your own kitchen adventures. What do you make for your husband's sake? Send it to us so we can share the love!

Today's recipe came from the February 2015 Southern Living magazine, p. 106 - the Triple-Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake. Mom made it for Dad this week, just for fun. And boy, was it fun... to eat! I mean, come on... I know there is a hole in this cake, but there are also TWO layers of icing on top! I highly recommend it, maybe even as a special Valentine treat.

2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweet cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. table salt
1 1/2 c. softened butter
3 c. granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temp
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. instant espresso
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. 60% cacao bittersweet choc. morsels

3/4 c. semisweet choc. morsels
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. buttermilk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Prepare the cake. Preheat oven to 325 F.
Flour mixture: Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
Egg mixture: Beat butter in a medium bowl on medium speed with a mixer until smooth. Gradually add sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yolk disappears.
Buttermilk mixture: Combine buttermilk, espresso, and vanilla.
Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternatively to the egg mixture. Make sure to begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat on low speed after each addition.
Fold in bittersweet chocolate morsels.
Pour batter into a well-greased, floured, 12-cup Bundt pan. Sharply tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles.
Bake at 325 F for 75-85 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely on rack.

Prepare the glazes.
Chocolate glaze: Combine semisweet chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave at Medium 1-1 1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Buttermilk glaze: Whisk together the sugar, 1 Tbsp buttermilk, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Add more buttermilk, if desired.
Drizzle the warm chocolate glaze and then the buttermilk glaze over the cooled cake.

Makes 10-12 servings.