Friday, September 8, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Folks-
This is a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe with just a couple of subtle changes. Melting the butter, instead of using softened butter, is my dad's contribution. I also often use vanilla sugar thrown into the measuring cup before measuring out the white sugar. Tip: I use a 2-cup measuring cup most of the time. First I pack-in the brown sugar, then I finish by adding white sugar until it reaches the 1-1/2 Cup level. That gives you the most accurate measure of sugar for your cookies!

Ingredients
1 Cup (2 sticks) melted butter
3/4 Cup packed brown sugar
3/4 Cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 2 tsp vanilla sugar
2 large eggs
2-1/4 Cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 Cups chocolate chips
Optional: 1 Cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla extract until creamy. Add eggs and beat well. Add all other ingredients except chocolate chips and nuts and mix well. Mix in chocolate chips
From into 1-2 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
Note: It's easy to use a mellon-baller to form these. They can be frozen for up to six months, and baked straight from the freezer.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eleanor's Peanut Butter Cookies

If you ever wondered how I started cooking, or where I got my tendency to change the recipes of others, this is where both started. You see, this is my mom's Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe. She took the recipe from a '60's-era Betty Crocker Cookbook, and changed it by a single ingredient. The original recipe calls for a combination of butter and shortening, but she found that if you used more butter instead of the shortening (a 1 for 1 substitution) then the cookies came out softer, and more flavorful.
Here's my mom's variation of the Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe:

1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 Cup peanut butter
1/2 Cup softened butter
1 egg
1-1/4 Cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together sugars, peanut butter, butter, and egg until smooth. Add all other ingredients and thoroughly mix them in. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Set oven temperature for 350 degrees. Shape the dough into 1 to 1-1/4 inch balls by hand or using a melon-baller, placing them 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press a checkerboard pattern into the top of each cookie with a fork. Bake 9-11 minutes until golden brown around the edges.
Remove from the cookie sheet and allow cookies to cool on a platter (they tend to fall apart if cooled on wire racks, unless supported by parchment paper.)
Optional: dip the fork into granulated (white or party-colored) sugar between pressing the checkerboard pattern into each cookie for an added decoration.
Tip: This recipe makes a lot of cookies, but you don't have to bake them all at once. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or four to six months in the freezer. I like to make them into balls using a melon-baller, and then freeze them in a zip-seal freezer bag labeled with the expiration date. When I want fresh cookies, I put the frozen balls on a cookie sheet, press in the pattern, and bake them as directed.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Pumpkin Juice

Yes, another two recipes in one day.
A couple of years ago, my family visited Universal Studios Florida, and visited the then new Diagon Alley, and older Hogsmeade sections of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Besides the food at The Three Broomsticks, our favorite drink was (no, not Butterbeer, even the kids found that too sweet) Pumpkin Juice. It's served all over the Harry Potter section of the park, and only there. In fact, you can't find the standard Pepsi products there. Everything in those sections of the park reinforce the theme, but are exclusive to those areas. Unlike Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans, you can't get many of the foods sold there at places like Honeyduke's, outside the park.
That means you have to make them.
I found a recipe for the cold and refreshing Pumpkin Juice online at the now-inactive but archived foodie site, The Disney Diner. I've made it for several years, but found her recipe unnecessarily complicated, and have streamlined it, removing one ingredient and changing the proportions of one ingredient at the kids request. Here's the version for fixing it by the batch:

Ingredients:
1 can frozen apple juice concentrate
2-1/2 cans of water
1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pour apple juice and water into blender pitcher. Add canned pumpkin, vanilla and cinnamon. Blend on high until well incorporated. Pour into glasses and serve cold.

To make this as a frozen mix for quick fixing it:
1-15oz can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Measure out in 1/2 Cup quantities, put into small attic containers, and freeze them. To make pumpkin juice, in a blender add together pumpkin juice mix, one can of frozen concentrated Apple juice, and 2-1/2 cans of water, and blend until thoroughly combined. Serve cold.

Baking Mix Blueberry Muffins

I tried to make blueberry muffins the way I remembered them from my childhood, but even using those recipes, they seemed dry, and not the way I expected. Modern recipes were too much like a yellow cupcake with blueberries in them. I eventually tried a recipe off of a box of biscuit and baking mix, and it was pretty much exactly what I wanted.
Of course I lost that recipe.
I later found one on Food.com that is probably identical. Being who I am, I've modified it a bit. Here's my version:

Baking Mix Blueberry Muffins
2 Cups Bisquick, Jiffy, or other biscuit and baking mix
1/3 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup milk
1/4 Tsp vanilla (or 1 Tsp vanilla sugar added to sugar before measuring)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Egg
3/4 to 1-1/2 Cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12 muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, or line with paper baking cups, or line with parchment paper. Mix together all ingredients except blueberries until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fold in blueberries. Divide blueberries evenly into the muffin cups and bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned around edges. Cool briefly and remove from muffin tins. Serve while warm.

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

Folks-
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
3-Eggs
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.
7/4/2017: Note: Experiments show this works well with the non-stick surface of a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker, but not as well with a traditional cast-iron pan. It sticks hard unless you heavily butter the cups, and even then it sticks moderately. I may add two tablespoons vegetable oil the next time I use cast-iron.
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.