Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Homemade Vanilla Extract

A few months ago I found myself with quite a few vanilla beans. This usually happens in the holiday seasons when Costco is selling them in 10-packs. I decided it was time to learn how to make Vanilla Extract. It turned out to be easy. One of the advantages of making it yourself is not having additional preservatives, sugar, or other chemicals.
To make it at home, you need a tightly-closing bottle that holds about a cup of liquid, and is clean without other scents.

Vanilla Extract

5-Whole Vanilla Beans
1-Cup (approximate) Vodka or Bourbon

Split the vanilla beans lengthwise, leaving about an inch at the end uncut. Place the beans into the bottle. Fill the bottle with the vodka or bourbon. Seal the bottle tightly and place it in a cool, dark place for six weeks, shaking the bottle twice a week or so to mix it up.

That's it. If you top off the bottle as you use it, it can last quite a bit longer than you might expect.

New Fried Chicken Recipe

A few months ago, a newspaper published what t g eyes believed to be the original recipe for "Colonel" Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken. I tried it, and, you guessed it, changed it. In some ways, this is just a tad easier.
I guess I'll call it "Edly Fried Chicken."

Edly Fried Chicken

2-Cups Flour
2/3-Tsp Salt
1-1/2-Tsp Italian Seasonings
1-Tsp Celery Salt
1-Tsp Black Pepper
1-Tsp Dried Mustard
4-Tsp Paprika
2-Tsp Garlic Salt
1-Tsp Ground Ginger
3-Tsp White Pepper
1-Tsp Turmeric
1/2-Tsp Chili Powder
1/2-Tsp Garlic Powder
1-Tsp Chicken Bouillon
2-Tbsp Milk
Chicken cut into parts
Enough cooking oil to fill a large frying pan 1/2" deep

Beat the eggs and milk together. Throw all of the dry ingredients into a gallon-sized plastic bag and shake them together until they are thoroughly mixed. Rinse and pat dry the chicken parts. Throw the chicken parts a couple at a time into the bag, and shake it to coat them. After coating the chicken parts in the dry ingredients, dredge them through the egg mixture, recoat them in the dry mixture, and set them aside for at least a half-hour in the refrigerator. Once the chicken parts look like they are coated in batter instead of powder, fry them at medium heat in a large skillet with at least a half-inch of oil in the bottom. Turn them over after at least twenty minutes and continue to fry until all pieces reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Note: Omit the chili powder, garlic powder, turmeric, and powdered chicken bouillon to essentially copy the KFC recipe. For an even more faithful version, use 1/2 Tsp Thyme, 1/2 Tsp Basil, and 1/3 Tsp Oregano instead of Italian Seasonings, and add about 1 Tsp MSG for the modern version.

French Silk Pie

I know, I must have lost my mind posting another recipe so soon after putting my Lasagna recipe up. But today is Pi Day (March 14th, or 3.14.) My daughter asked me to make a pie for it, so I looked up my French Silk Pie recipe, and realized I don't have it online. I decided I needed to fix that.
Really, this is a three-recipe dessert: Crust, filling, and topping. You can use my mom's Fool Proof Pie Crust recipe, or a Graham Cracker crust, for it. I'm going to include a whipped cream topping recipe that has the advantage of never separating.
My daughter is trying g to make a peanut butter pie filling to put in the bottom of the pie. I'll try to let you know how that goes later. For now, here's the French Silk Pie recipe.

French Silk Pie

1-Cooked and cooled pie crust or Graham Cracker pie crust
1-2 Cups Whipped Cream Topping
3 oz Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
3/4 Cup Softened Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
4 Large Very Fresh Eggs

Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave oven; cool, but make sure it is still a liquid (roughly 97 degrees.) In a sturdy mixers bowl, cream the butter, then add the sugar and vanilla. Beat well for about five minutes. Add the melted chocolate and mix it in well. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing at a medium speed for five minutes for each, and scraping the bowl down between each egg. Do not try to rush this. It will take at least 25 minutes of mixing if done right. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and top with the whipped topping (recipe follows.)

Whipped Cream Topping

1-Tsp Unflavored Gelatin
2-Tbsp Cold Water
2-Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2-Cup Powdered Sugar
2-Tsp Vanilla Extract

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small waterproof bowl and let sit for a few minutes. Place the bowl in a shallow saucepan of water and heat over low heat until the gelatin dissolves. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the cream. In a large mixer bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat well until the mixture holds its shape. Add the reserved cream to the gelatin and quickly mix it into the whipped cream. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ed's Modified But Still Extra Easy Meat Lasagna

I find it a bit surprising that I have not yet posted a lasagna recipe, but that might be a result of never learning how to make one from my dad. I still need to learn his recipe. Until then, I've found an "Extra Easy Lasagna" recipe from myrecipes.com, and, of course, modified it.
You expected that, I'm sure.
Here's my version:
Ed's Modified But Still Extra Easy Meat Lasagna Recipe

24 oz. Sausage
2-24oz Cans or Jars Spaghetti Sauce (see note)
9 Uncooked Lasagna Noodles (regular or whole wheat)
1-15oz Container Ricotta Cheese
3 Cups grated Mozzarella or Italian Cheese
1/3 Cup Hot Water

Crumble and brown sausage in a large skillet while pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees. Drain off the fat, and stir in both containers of spaghetti sauce. Cover the bottom of a large casserole dish with about a quarter of the meat and sauce mixture, then layer three of the uncooked noodles on it. Spread about a quarter of the Ricotta cheese thinly on top of the noodles, and then layer about a half-cup of shredded cheese on it. Repeat layering with meat sauce, noodles, and cheeses, twice, retaining at least a cup of shredded cheese for later. Pour the hot water around the edge of the noodles. Tightly cover the dish with two layers of aluminum foil. Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes (until hot in the center). Uncover the Lasagna, cover with the remaining shredded cheese, and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Note on Spaghetti Sauce selection: I recommend using two different sauces in this recipe, but be careful about which. Four cheese may clash with the Ricotta, meat may clash with the sausage. Traditional should go fine, as will tomato and basil, chunky garden style, and many others. You may even want to try this recipe with some kinds of Alfredo sauce and let me know how it comes out!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Simple Savory Pork Loin Roast

Here it is, time for my annual update. Costco had a sale on pork tenderloin roasts recently, and after fixing a couple in the slow-cooker covered in barbecue sauce for sandwiches, I decided to look for a different recipe to mix things up.
I found one over at AllRecipes.com that we all liked, and of course I modified it. Here's my version of the Simple Savory Pork Loin Roast from AllRecipes.com:

1-1/2 Tbsp Fresh snipped Rosemary
2 Tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 Tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1 3 lb Pork Tenderloin Roast

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all seasonings into a large zippered plastic bag, a gallon-sized freezer bag works well. Throw in the thawed roast and shake the bag thoroughly to coat. Transfer the roast to a medium baking dish, cover, and bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes to an internal temperature of 145.

If you find that the seasoning runs out without thoroughly covering the roast, don't be afraid to shake some garlic salt and pepper on the uncoated parts.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Quick Aebleskiver (work in progress)

So, here we are again, waiting a year or a bit more to update. Are you surprised? No? Good.
My family has been making Aebleskiver since I was little. My kids love them, and ask me to fix them for breakfast much more often than I actually do.
What are Aebleskiver? They're also known as Danish Pancake Balls.
They're a bit of work to make in the traditional fashion, which is why I don't make them frequently. This has been driving me to find a faster way to make them. One thing that slows down the traditional method is the pan. It looks a bit like an egg poaching pan with deeper depressions. A good one is made of tempered cast iron and is heavy. They have to be in order to cook them evenly. That means it takes some time to heat them up properly. Then to cook them properly, you have to constantly turn them in the pan as one side is done. That's a bit of work.
Also, here in the U.S., you can't get a mix to make them. I've worked out mixes in the past, but that still means I have to set aside time and pantry space for them when they're fixed.
The first break in making them faster was when my mom got us a babycakes cake-pop maker. You've seen them. They're a bit like a waffle iron with little spheres in them. Cake-pop balls are about half the size of Aebleskiver, but that's not a significant issue. It's much easier to use the cake-pop maker than an Aebleskiver pan.
Today I decided to try to fix the mix issue. It's a work in progress, but I figured I would post what I've managed to work out, just so you know what to do with that old cake-pop maker that was collecting dust in your cabinets.
Edited 3/27/2016 (Easter Sunday): I changed the milk in the recipe to water. It has too much of a dairy flavor if you use milk. Also I recommend the use of unsalted butter. The pancake mix already has enough salt in it.
Here it is:

Quick Aebleskiver

1-1/2 Cups Pancake Mix (I used Krusteaz Buttermilk Complete Pancake Mix)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Cardamom or Cinnamon
1 Cup water
1 Large egg
4 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter, divided

Heat up the cake-pop maker. Mix together the water, egg, and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Add the pancake mix, sugar, and spices at once and mix until they are moistened and form a lumpy batter. Brush the cups of the cake-pop maker top and bottom with melted butter, and fill the bottom cups with batter nearly to the top (mine takes about a tablespoon of batter.) Close the cake-pop maker and allow to cook for about 4 minutes. They should have brown spots when properly cooked. Remove from pan with a wood skewer so as not to scratch the finish of the cake-pop maker. While still hot, split and serve with jam and whipped cream. Makes about 4 dozen.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quiche Lorraine

We just got home a couple of weeks ago from our family vacation in Florida (it was a blast!) While visiting Epcot at Disney World, my daughter had a Quiche Lorraine for lunch at the France Exhibit at World Showcase. She enjoyed it so much that I decided to make one tonight for dinner. I started with this recipe at allrecipes and modified it from the suggestions in the comments. I actually made two at once due to the amount of ingredients I had, with the intent to freeze one. We'll see if that plan lasts through tomorrow!
In any case, here's my recipe:

Quiche Lorraine

1 prepared 9" pie crust
12 strips of cooked crispy bacon, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup minced onion
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1-1/3 cup half-and-half
5 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the bacon, minced onions, and Swiss cheese in the pie crust. Whisk together the other ingredients and pour into the pie crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 300 degrees and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Allow to cool for ten minutes before cutting into eight slices and enjoy while still warm.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bordeaux Candies

My mom gave me a small bag of homemade Bordeaux candies yesterday, along with the recipe. They taste a lot like something from See's, but not exactly. Using the right chocolate probably makes these a whole lot better than what you're likely to find in a candy store. I'm sure she used Guittard milk chocolate chips to coat hers, that's her favorite brand.
I'll try this recipe soon, but until then, here's her recipe:

Bordeaux Candy
1 Cup light brown sugar
1/2 Cup butter
1/4 Cup whipping cream
1/2 Teaspoon instant coffee
Pinch salt
2 Cups sifted powdered sugar
12 oz chocolate

Melt butter and brown sugar together in a heavy pan. Bring to a boil for two minutes. Add whipping cream, coffee crystals, and salt and return to a boil. Stir constantly for 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Let cool for ten minutes. Mix in powdered sugar. Cool until mixture can hold the shape of a ball. Form mixture into one inch balls and coat with melted chocolate. Cool on waxed paper.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

English Toffee

This time of year it's a tradition in my family to make my Aunt Carolyn's English Toffee. It's not the simplest candy I make (that would be the truffles) but it tastes SO much better than anything you could buy. If you like Heath Bars or Almond Rocha, you owe it to yourself to try this recipe.

English Toffee

1 lb butter + extra for coating jelly roll pan
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped almonds, toasted if preferred
Melted chocolate for dipping

Coat a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with sides with butter and set aside. Melt 1 lb butter and add sugar and cream of tarter, stir until thermometer reaches 275 degrees. Add chopped almonds and stir to 300 degrees. Spread into the jelly roll pan and immediately score into 1" pieces with a sharp buttered knife. Cool for about 7 minutes and break into pieces. Dip into melted chocolate and roll in chopped nuts. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Microwave Peanut Butter Cookies

Every now and then I'll see a recipe in my feed that I have to try. About a month ago I saw one for "Deep Dish Single Serve Microwave Chocolate Chip Cookie." While my daughter and I agreed it was ok, it didn't hit a home run in my family. I decided to try modifying it into something we all liked, and after a week of tinkering, I finally had a Microwave Peanut Butter Cookie that is just as good as regular baked cookies, except you make them in small batches, and they take much less time, preparation, and no chilling the dough for several hours! Best of all, as long as you use mayo instead of egg or egg substitute, you can eat the dough raw (but I wouldn't store it for that.)

Microwave Peanut Butter Cookies

2 tsp butter melted
1-1/2 tbsp mayonnaise (or 1 egg yolk or 1/2 of an eggs worth of egg substitute)
1 tbsp peanut butter
2-1/2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp sugar and 3 drops vanilla extract)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup flour

Mix together butter, mayonnaise, and sugars. Mix in flour and baking powder. Form into 3-5 small balls, 1-2 tbsp in size. Place on a microwave safe plate. Use a fork to make a checkerboard pattern on the cookies, if desired. Microwave for 45-60 seconds. Allow to cool for at least a minute before eating.