English Muffins!

No really, you can make your own English muffins, and it is really easy!  Why would you want to do such a thing?  ’cause you can, and you will know exactly what is in them!

You’ll need

  • Milk
  • shortening
  • yeast
  • sugar
  • water
  • flour
  • salt

Simple stuff!

Lets get started.

First you’ll want to scald your milk, to do this you can use a saucepan or use the microwave, just heat until steamy and bubbles form around the edge, it doesn’t need to boil.

Now just place the shortening in the milk to melt and let this sit for about 15-20 minutes until lukewarm.  No shortening?  You can use butter instead.

Now place the lukewarm water, yeast, and sugar together in the bottom of a mixing bowl, give a little stir.  Let sit until foamy and bubbly, this way you’ll know that it is alive!

add the remaining ingredients along with the milk and shortening mixture.

Mix into a soft dough, it should be a bit tacky but not sticky, if too sticky, add small amounts of additional flour until a nice soft dough is formed.  For more detailed instructions on dough making check out this post

Now place the dough into an oiled bowl and flip to coat the whole ball in oil.

Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Now you don’t want to destroy all those bubbles that we formed when rising, so just scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.

Now gently roll out the dough to a 1/2 inch thick, (don’t crush them bubbles too much!)

and cut into rounds.

No cutters?  No Problem, just make balls of dough, and flatten them ( you’ll lose some bubbles, but it will still work)

Dust a baking pan with corn meal.

Place the cut rounds onto the corn meal and sprinkle the tops with a bit of additional cornmeal.  Cover and let rise for 30-40 minutes.

Now this step might just blow your mind!  We’re going to cook these not in an oven, but on a GRIDDLE!  Trust me, I haven’t lost my marbles!

Preheat the griddle to 325 degrees.  If you don’t have a griddle you can use a frying pan on the stove, start low with the heat and turn it up if needed.

Oil the griddle lightly.

Gently place the rounds on the preheated griddle and cook for 8-9 minutes on the first side

They’ll puff up, that’s a good thing!

Flip and cook for 8-9 minutes on the second side.  They should be nicely browned.

Remove to a cooling rack

Repeat with remaining dough.

Once cooled, fork split them, this will help get that craggy texture that you expect from a English muffin.

now they are ready for the toaster, and ready for BUTTER!

For printable recipe click here

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bread and Dough | 2 Comments

Sweet Moist Cornbread

Here is my favorite recipe for cornbread, and I may be taking liberties calling it that, it is more like a moist cake, but it is delicious.  If you are a cornbread purist and prefer the savory dryer cornbread, and wouldn’t dream of adding sugar, then you may want to stop reading now, this post might hurt your feelings….

Lets get started, here is what you’ll need, standard stuff no surprises here.  Just a heads up, if you live in the south like I do, buying cornmeal will seem kind of daunting, there are so many brands, many including leavening, what you want here is PLAIN YELLOW CORNMEAL, not cornmeal mix.  White cornmeal can be used, but I like the color from the yellow.

Start off by mixing up those dry ingredients, including the sugar. Whisk together to combine.

Next combine the wet ingredients, and whisk to combine well

Now add the dry ingredients all at once to the wet.

Riveting stuff I know, but really how exciting did you expect a recipe for cornbread to be?

Now just mix with the spatula to combine, remember this is quickbread little lumps are OK!

Pour into a greased 8×8 inch square pan.  If you want to get all fancy, you can use a greased 8 or 9″ cast iron skillet, but we’ll keep it simple and use a pan.  I used a parchment sling to help me get it out of the pan, so I wouldn’t cut up the non-stick surface of the pan.

Place into a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until it tests done with a knife or toothpick.

Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Now it’s ready to serve!  Make sure you have lots of butter to slather on it!

Now get yo’ self into the kitchen and whip up a batch!

Click here for printable recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of plain yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

 

Posted in Bread and Dough, Quick Breads and Muffins | 1 Comment

Cream Biscuits

Biscuits, you can’t even really say it without a southern drawl!

Biscuits are already pretty easy, but these are by far the easiest scratch biscuits that I have ever made, no really, they really are quite easy.

Now let’s get out the stuff.

Nothing exotic here!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Lets get started.  First, sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder.  Don’t have a sifter, no problem, just put the ingredients in the bowl and use a whisk to combine, but I’m feeling nostalgic today so I’m using a sifter….

Sift into your bowl

Next add that cream, it has to be cream, you need the fat, this is replacing the butter or shortening in the recipe as well as the milk.

Give it a stir, just to combine.

Now turn out that scrappy lookin’ mess onto a lightly floured surface.

and knead lightly 6-8 turns.  Giving it a light knead will activate the gluten in the flour, and will give it the structure to rise up instead of spread out, giving you nice tall biscuits.  Don’t knead too much though because you will develop the gluten making tough biscuits, that’s not really what we are going for here.  Now with your hands, evenly pat down the dough to about 1/2 inch thick.

Take your cutter and push straight down without twisting (this helps them rising straight up)

 

You want to cut them nice and thick, to make tall biscuits.

Repeat until all dough is used up, gathering the scraps together, pressing together, and patting down to cut more biscuits.  Place in a greased pan, and brush with melted butter, I used an 8×8 pan here, but they can go on just about any pan, cookie sheet, etc..

Now bake for 15-20 minutes until nice and golden brown all over.

Remove to cooling rack

Lip smackin’ good Y’all!

Click here for printable recipe

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy or whipping cream

 

 

Posted in Bread and Dough | 1 Comment

Baking Powder

Oh how exciting, a post about baking powder, what’s next a video of paint drying?

Hang on, there is some good information here.

Baking Powder is one of those make or break ingredients in a recipe.  Baking powder and baking soda are not the same. Yes they are both leavening agents, but they should not be used interchangeably.

First, freshness is important, fresh baking powder will produce nice, fluffy baked goods, old baking powder can cause them to fall flat.  A good rule of thumb is to replace your baking powder once a year, when you are getting ready to do holiday baking is a good time to toss any leftover baking powder and buy new, it’s cheap enough, and much less expensive than wasting expensive ingredients should your recipe fail.  It is best stored in its original container in a cool dry place.

Baking powder is a double acting leavening, meaning just that, it reacts twice.  The first reaction is when it comes in contact with moisture, and the second is when it reacts to heat.  You will see this first reaction if you make a batter, like a pancake batter, let it set for a few minutes, and then stir, you will see that the batter is more fluffy with lots of bubbles.  Of course the second reaction is more obvious, when it rises during baking.

There are two widely available types of baking powder, ones with aluminum compounds and those without.  I prefer the ones without, they have a much cleaner taste, and they are really not any more expensive.  Two popular brands that can be found almost everywhere are Rumford (my personal favorite) and Argo, both are aluminum free.  You’ll notice the taste difference in things with a lot of baking powder like biscuits and scones.

Now if you can’t remember when you bought your baking powder, toss it out and put it on your shopping list!  Write the date on the new one, just in case!

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Dad’s Pie (Graham Cracker Pie)

This was my dad’s favorite pie, his favorite dessert from the Governor’s Restaurant back in Maine, this is my version.

Today would have been his 72nd birthday.

My dad always joked that he was sure that having a birthday so close to Christmas, that he always got one less present on Christmas morning!

Here’s how to make Dad’s pie.

Here’s what you’ll need (forgot to take a picture)

  • graham crackers
  • butter
  • sugar
  • milk
  • cornstarch
  • salt
  • eggs
  • vanilla
  • Freshly whipped, sweetened cream (the real stuff!)

Start off by making the crust, yup you have to make the crust, this pie gets a lot of its flavor from the graham cracker crust, so those pre-made graham crusts just won’t cut it!

crush the crumbs, I like to leave them a bit coarse.

Combine the crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a bowl

stir to combine

dump into the pie plate

using the bottom of a measuring cup press crumbs firmly into the bottom of the pan and firmly against the sides, using your thumb as a “dam” to create a nice top edge.

Place crust into a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until it smells nice and toasty and is slightly browned.

Set crust aside while you prepare the filling.

In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

Whisk in milk

Turn heat to medium and bring the milk mixture to a boil, whisking frequently to prevent the mixture cooking to the bottom.

remove from heat.  Mixture should be nice and thick.

Beat eggs in a small heatproof mixing bowl

Slowly pour about a third of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, while whisking.  This is called “tempering the eggs”  your getting the eggs used to the heat.  If you just added the eggs to the hot milk, they would cook and scramble, and we ain’t makin’ scrambled eggs here!

Add the egg mixture to into the hot milk mixture into the saucepan and whisk to combine.

Return to the heat and bring back to a boil, boil for one minute stirring constantly.

remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract.

beat until combined and butter is melted.  Pour into the prepared crust.

Now to prevent puddin’ skin, place some plastic wrap directly on top of the filling, while hot.

Chill the pie for at least 6 hours, overnight is best.

Top with freshly whipped sweetened cream, it’s gotta be the real thing, non-dairy whipped topping just isn’t the same on this pie, you’ve made the effort to make a pie from scratch, don’t skimp now!

MMMMMMM……. Pie!

Printable recipe click here.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Pie and Pastry | 7 Comments

Gingersnaps!

Here is the recipe for my favorite gingersnaps.  These are old fashioned, soft and chewy, just the way I like them.  They have a nice assertive spiciness.

And they are really EASY!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Get your stuff!

See nothing complicated here!

First combine the shortening and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream until nice and light and fluffy.

Next add the molasses, and the egg.  Beat to combine.

Helpful tip:  spray your measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray, like Pam, then measure out your molasses, it will slip right out!

As we do often, combine all of the dry ingredients and whisk to combine well

And add that to the shortening mixture and stir just to combine, you won’t need to beat.

Here is what you get, a nice thick dough.

Now you can go from here and form walnut sized balls, or you can chill it, chilling will make it easier to roll.

Make walnut sized balls, I use a scoop to portion, then roll it in my hand to make a smooth ball, this will make a prettier cookie with more defined cracks.

Roll in white granulated sugar, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment, leaving an inch and a half space between, so that they can spread a little.

Place cookies in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until they are starting to brown along the edges and the tops have started to crackle.

They will still be quite soft, let them sit on the pan for about 10 minutes to finish cooking and to firm up a bit.  Place on cooling rack and cool completely before storing.

Here ya go!

Click here for printable recipe

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

 

Posted in Cookies and Bars | 2 Comments

Chewy Chocolate Cookies!

How often do you take a bite of a chocolate cookie only to discover that it has almost no flavor and is dry and lifeless?  Do I sound like the introduction to an infomercial?

These cookies are intensely chocolate, soft and chewy and as rich as you could ever want a chocolate cookie to be.  I know that is a lot to live up to, but it’s true!  Could it be from the one  pound of melted semisweet chocolate……..

Here’s the stuff!

To start, melt the chocolate chips.  Start with a microwave safe bowl, and in 30 second intervals, start melting the chocolate.

Be careful when melting chocolate in the microwave, it can easily burn, don’t let it go for more than 30 seconds without stirring.  When it is mostly melted with a few bits still left, stop microwaving, the heat from the chocolate and the bowl will finish the job, just keep stirring!  Set aside to cool.

Take the coffee, eggs and vanilla and whisk them together

Get the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa together and whip’em up into a frenzy, or you can just stir if that’s more your speed, set aside.

Get that butter and both sugars and cream them well.

You will need to beat these for a good 5 minutes or more.  at first it will look like mud, but keep going until it looks like this, light and fluffy, you’ll see that it lightens in color.

add the egg mixture and mix to combine

add the cooled melted chocolate and beat to combine.

Couldn’t you just bury your face in that bowl of melted chocolate?  Don’t do it!

Gradually add the dry ingredients until just combined, don’t over beat. you will have a really thick mixture.

Now this is optional, but you know that I cannot leave well enough alone, I  added some toasted pecans.  Toasted them on a cookie sheet for 5 to 8 minutes until they smell, well, nutty!

cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, or even better, a parchment lined one, place walnut sized dough balls at least 1 1/2 inches apart.

bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are set around the edge, but still quite soft in the middle.  Don’t worry, they will finish on the pan.  Let them set on the pan for 10 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.  Keep your grubby paws off them, you’ll burn yourself!

Here you go, fudgy goodness, go ahead take one!

Click here for printable recipe

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cookies and Bars | 1 Comment

Potato Rolls!

Who doesn’t love soft squishy buns?

Here is a great recipe for an Amish style potato roll.  No you don’t have to wear a long dress or have a beard without a mustache, and you don’t have to be named Yoder to make these….

Want to make these by hand, follow the procedure in my “Bread” post.

Here is what you’ll need

Hey look, there really are ‘taters in those rolls!

Get those potatoes cooked. You can either peel and boil them, or bake them in the microwave.  I chose the microwave, I’m all about easy.

First stab that potato

and pop it in the microwave.  Cook until fully cooked and very soft.

Cook and let cool.  Remove all skin and mash it up in a bowl

now measure out 1 cup

dissolve the yeast in the warm water, then add the rest of the ingrediets

Mix to form a nice soft, but not too sticky dough.  You may need to add a bit more flour.  Knead until smooth and elastic, around 10 minutes.

Pop into greased bowl and flip over, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in bulk.

When risen, turn out onto floured surface, and divide in half.

Pat each half into a circle

and divide this circle into 8 pieces.  This will help you get the rolls a more uniform size.

and roll each piece into a smooth ball.

Look at me multitasking, skill I tell ya, skill!

and place the rolls in a greased pan.  There are enough rolls to fill a 9x 13 pan, or if you are cooking a big holiday meal and your pan is being used for something else, you can use your round cake pans too!

Now place them in a warm place to rise.  My oven has a cool “proofing” function, makes things a lot faster, but on the counter works just fine.

 

Let them rise until they fill the pan and rise to the edge.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

Oh the smell of fresh bread……

Got some butter?  I smeared butter all over them while they were hot, who doesn’t love shiny buns?

Want some?  MAKE YOUR OWN!

Printable recipe, print here

  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (1 packet)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cooked mashed potato
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4-5 cups all purpose flour

 

Posted in Bread and Dough | 8 Comments

Pecan Pie!

This is now my “go-to” pecan pie recipe.  I wish that I could take credit for it, but I can’t darn it!  This is a recipe from the fabulous Pioneer Woman.  I want to meet that lady and cook in her fabulous lodge kitchen!  I have some major kitchen envy when I visit that site…

OK, in my oh so humble opinion this is the “perfect” pecan pie.  Yes it is sweet, as pecan pie should be

So how do you say pecan?  Here in the southeast, you’ll here it pronounced pee-can, but you go farther west and it morphs into puh-cahn, however you say it, MAKE THIS PIE, with the first bite, you’ll hear angels sing

Let’s get it together

I shelled them nuts all by myself, really I did.

Don’t be hatin’ the Karo, they took out the high fructose corn syrup, which makes me happy

Oh and you’ll need one of these, a single pie crust. Wanna make one? Try this

OK this is gonna be really simple, betcha you could do it with one hand tied behind your back…  on second thought use both hands.

First in a medium sized bowl combine all ingredients except for pecans.

Wanna know a cool trick?  Use non-stick pan spray on the inside of your measuring cup, the corn syrup will slide right out.

Now give it a good mixin’ with a whisk, until well combined.

now here you have a choice to make, don’t stress out about it, but do you chop the nuts or leave them in halves?  Oh the dilemma!

I chopped them, it’s easier to cut the pie when they are chopped, but leaving them whole makes it purdy.

Now dump them in the bowl with the other ingredients.

And pour it into a prepared pie shell

Now here is where it gets a little weird, but the Pioneer Woman is on to something.  We’re gonna make the pie a hat!  OK, it’s just foil, but this is the trick to great pecan pie.  I have made many pecan pies and by the time you get the pie cooked, the top would get very brown and hard, and the crust would often be overcooked, this solves that problem.

I gave the foil a little non-stick spray, just in case the filling touches the foil, it won’t stick.

Now slide in the preheated oven and bake.  Baking pecan pie can be tricky, it takes quite a while.  I bake the pie with the foil on for 50 minutes, yup, almost an hour.  You want the pie to be just about fully cooked with the foil on the pie, and take it off to just finish browning, maybe 10 minutes or so.  Your oven may bake faster or slower, you’ll have to peek at the filling to figure out when it is done.

Bake until the filling sets, it should jiggle like Jello, but not slosh around.  When you get to this point, remove from the oven and let cool completely.  The filling still needs some time to set up.

Looks almost good enough to eat

If a pie could be sexy, this might be it!

Because I’m too lazy to type it out, and because the Pioneer Woman has such a whiz bang site, I’m going to link to her site for the recipe.

The Pioneer Woman Pecan Pie printable recipe

 

Posted in Pie and Pastry | 5 Comments

How to make pie crust!

OK, I have to admit, I don’t like making pie crust, but I dislike the refrigerated more.  I love the convenience, but am not crazy over the flavor.

So if you want to give homemade pie crust a shot, here’s how you do it.

Lets start off with a few tips for success.

Cold ingredients, cold fat, cold water, cool room.  The cold ingredients will help the crust become flaky, the cold water will help the dough stay cool, and the cool room will help the crust stay easy to work with.  I don’t preheat my oven while working with the dough, because my kitchen is small and enclosed and can heat up fast.

Don’t over work the dough.  Overworking the dough can make the crust tough, and ruin all the work that you did, to cut in the fat.

BE PATIENT!

Here we go, here’s what you’ll need.

Ok, got your stuff?  Lets get started!

Now combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Then take your cold fat, cut in chunks, and add to the dry ingredients.  I like to use 1/2 shortening and half butter.  The shortening makes for a tender crust, butter helps with flakiness, and flavor.  Don’t be afraid of the fat, this is pie, dessert, live a little!

Now with a pastry cutter, cut the fat into the dry ingredients.

Now cut in the fat until it resembles coarse meal with larger chunks of fat still remaining, about the size of peas… or corn kernels, whichever you like better.

Now add just enough liquid to form a crumbly dough.  You want to stay slightly on the dry side, too much water will activate the gluten too much, making it less tender.

If you are making a one crust pie recipe, wrap the entire ball of dough in plastic wrap.  If a two crust divide in half and wrap individually.

Now roll the edges on the counter to make nice flat sides.  This will help when rolling out dough, it will minimize the cracking around the edges.

Now place in the fridge for about a 1/2 hour, in this time the dough will soak up the liquid and become a bit less dry.  If you leave in the fridge longer, let it sit out for 10-15 minutes to soften slightly, this will make it easier to roll.

When ready to roll out, dust a clean surface with flour and coat a rolling pin with flour as well.

dust the dough with some flour, not too much, just enough to prevent sticking.

No fancy schmancy rolling pin here, just an old basic one.

Now start rolling.  Go slow, be patient, this isn’t a race.  Keep checking to make sure that the crust isn’t sticking to the counter.  Roll from the center out toward the edges, lifting the pin when you get near the edges, try not to roll the edges too much, this will help minimize splitting edges.

now for a standard 9″ pie, you will want to roll the crust to at least 11 inches, this will give you enough slack to crimp the edges.

Don’t have a ruler or tape measure?  No problem, just use a roll of plastic wrap, it is about 12 inches wide, just roll out a little smaller than that!  Didn’t think of doing that did ya?

Look, name brand plastic wrap, as cheap as I am, I don’t skimp!

Now lets get it in the pan.  Now this is where a warm kitchen can cause problems, the dough will be hard to handle if the room is warm.  If you made sure that the dough wasn’t sticking, it should just roll right on to the rolling pin.

now unroll over your pie pan, and help guide the dough into the shape of the pan.

Using scissors, or if you have a flat edge like mine use a knife to remove the excess dough.

If you are doing a one crust pie, like pecan or pumpkin, you can flute the edges now and fill.

Or you can fill

and using the procedure above, roll out the second crust and place on the top

trim the excess, leaving a bit of overhang.

Now tuck the top crust under the bottom crust all around to seal the pie shut.

Now you can crimp the crust simply by pressing with a fork, or crimp in a more decorative way.  I used my thumb and forefinger, placing on the edge of the crust, and using a finger from the other hand (preferably your own) press the crust in between your thumb and forefinger creating a V shape, continue all around the edge.

Now bake as directed.

Now if you want a single baked crust, for a cream pie, you can blind bake the crust.  Blind baking is baking the crust empty.  This can be tricky, often if you just place the crust in the oven, it will shrink into the bottom of the pan and puff up in the middle, I’m going to show you how to avoid that,

First, take the crust that you have rolled out, placed in pan and crimped, and line with aluminum foil, gently pushing it into the shape of the pan.

And fill with about 2 pounds of beans, rice or pie weights.  I keep using the same beans over and over, I only use them for this purpose, they were much cheaper than pie weights.

Bake the bean filled crust for 15-20 minutes @ 350 degrees, or until the edge of the crust is light brown.

Remove the beans by lifting out with foil

As you can see, its a bit undercooked so we will place it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until it is golden brown all over.

Still awake?  I know it was a long post, but I wanted to show you step by step.  I encourage you to try making your own pie crust, you’ll be the Thanksgiving hero, and you’ll finally be loved by the in-laws, all because you now have pie crust skills.  Go ahead, bask in the glow!

Dough for 2 crust pie

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cold shortening, in chunks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut in chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6-8 Tablespoons ice water.

Make a half recipe for a one crust pie.

 

Posted in Pie and Pastry | 1 Comment