Salad in a Biscuit

I’ve decided that I have a bit of an obsession with buttermilk biscuits.  Not really sure why or rather, how, this obsession came to be but it’s definitely a large part of my cooking life.

The “why” is easy… um, buttermilk biscuits are little drops of love from heaven.  The “how” isn’t as easy.  I’ve had some yummy biscuits before, but recently I have become intrigued by all of the different variations that are out there.  I’m so impressed with people’s creativity when developing recipes.  Wish I had that talent!

These are lovely.  Subtle, herbal flavors wrapped up in a flaky biscuit.  I thought the feta would overpower the dill and/or parsley and/or basil.  But nope, the flavors are all balanced and compliment each other beautifully.  By the way, Paul was definitely skeptical of what looked like a salad in the batter.

Gotta say I’ve never used a grater to cut butter into a biscuit batter, and was doubtful when asked to do so.  I’ve always used a pastry cutter.  But, when in Rome… so I pulled out my box grater and made swiss cheese of 3/4 cups of butter.  It was kinda cool to be honest.  But in truth, when you mix it all into the other ingredients the butter clumps up so I had to crumble it up again using my fingers.  Really, it’s up to you what works for you.

Long story short, slather soft butter across the top of these beautiful biscuits and dive in!

Feta Dill Biscuits (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

Feta Dill Biscuits.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces), 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 3 green onions, thinly sliced, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 3/4 cup unsalted butter (frozen), 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  In a large bowl, combine flour, feta, parsley, dill, basil, green onions, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, baking soda and pepper.  Grate butter using the large holes of a box grater. Stir into the flour mixture.  Add buttermilk and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut out 10-12 rounds using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter. Place biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet; place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Remove biscuits from freezer. Place into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

55 What?!?

So it’s been a bit since I’ve baked and posted.  Sometimes ya just need a moment.

This week I was inspired by both Mother’s Day (a week early) and Nana’s birthday.  This year Paul’s mom’s birthday is on Mother’s Day and she will rock every moment of it.  As she should.

Tonight we hosted dinner for my folks and Nana and had a grand time.  But in order to honor and celebrate the two big May holidays (one nationally recognized, one Darga recognized) I wanted something delicious and pretty.  These accomplished both.

I had every intention of cutting these in half and building the sandwiches but I got super lazy and decided to just smother them with frosting and drizzle the compote on top.  I heard no complaints.

These are so simple, even though the recipe looks complicated.  Just trust it and go with them.  Oh, and the recipe says it makes 55 cupcakes and I was a touch frightened.  That’s a lie, I was terrified.  But in truth I ended up with about 40 cakes of blueberry loveliness.

Chocolate and Blueberry Cupcake Sandwich (recipe of couponclippingcook.com)

Chocolate Blueberry Cupcake Sandwich.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  

For the cupcakes:  31/3 cups flour, 11/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 11/2 cups butter 3 sticks, 3 cups milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 5 eggs, 1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen

For the filling:  1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water

For the frosting:  1/3 cup butter softened, 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese at room temperature, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 cups powdered sugar

* Depending on how much frosting is added to each cupcake sandwich, the frosting amounts may need to be doubled or tripled

DIRECTIONS:

For the cupcakes:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cocoa, vanilla, milk, eggs, and butter. Beat with a mixer for 3 minutes.  To the bowl, add blueberries and using a large sturdy spoon, stir them into the mixture.   Line the cupcake pans with paper liners.  Add batter into the cupcake liners (3/4’s full).  Bake in a preheated oven until a wooden toothpick comes out clean (for about 20 to 25 minutes)This recipe yields about 55 cupcakes so they need to be baked in batches.  When the cupcake pans are cool enough to handle, transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack.  Let the cupcakes cool before adding the filling and frosting.

For the filling:  Heat a pan on low to medium heat and add blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and water.  Stir the blueberry mixture until it thickens to the consistency of jam. Set aside to cool.

For the frosting:  To a large mixing bowl, add butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth (about 3 or 4 minutes).

For the cupcake sandwiches:  Remove the paper liners from the cupcakes.  Then cut the cupcakes in half from side to side.  Spread frosting on the top of each half.  Add ½ teaspoon blueberry filling on top of the frosting on each halved cupcake.  Turn the top half upside down and set it on top of the bottom half to make a sandwich.  Top with frosting and serve.

A Little Jack Johnson

I don’t know if y’all are Jack Johnson fans (obviously I am as the title of this blog implies), but his “Banana Pancakes” song was the inspiration for today’s baking experiment.  It’s just lovely in every way… both the song and these pancakes.
They are delicious!  Seriously, so good!  If you were to make these as a dish for a family, or friends, or family and friends brunch you would be seen as a rockstar.
Now, I’m not gonna lie to you.  The number of pans involved in making these pancakes is  kinda ridiculous.  But the sink full of used dishes is absolutely worth it.
Couple of notes:
* The recipe says to butter the sheet pan and then line it with parchment paper.  I didn’t have parchment paper so I used wax paper.  Big mistake.  Huge!  The wax paper fell  apart as I tried to pick a slice up with my spatula.  Definitely use parchment paper or none at all.  I think greasing the pan would be enough so that pancakes don’t stick.
* A trick of the trade from Day Day (my mom) when beating egg whites:  drop a pinch of cream of tartar in with the egg whites.  It helps them beat higher.  I also beat them past “soft peaks” because egg whites scare the bejeezus out of me.  I’m always terrified they’ll deflate.
* The batter will seem super thick before you add the egg whites.  Proceed with faith… it will loosen up and become a beautiful consistency.
* I, of course, did not read the recipe carefully enough and accidentally added all of the sugar in with the blueberries in the very beginning of my pancake adventure.  I just shrugged and thought, “Well, it’ll all blend together in the end.”  Turns out it did!  That’s how good this recipe is.
Lemon and Blueberry Sheet Pan Pancakes (recipe care of sunset.com)
Lemon Blueberry Pancakes.jpg
INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted and divided, plus more for pan), 3 cups blueberries (divided), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided), 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 4 large eggs (separated), 1 carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, 1 cup whole milk, powdered sugar and maple syrup (for serving)
DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425°. Grease a sheet pan (a 12- by 17-in. rimmed baking sheet) with butter or cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.Combine 2 cups blueberries, the lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes or so. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in another medium bowl. In a third medium bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks form. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, ricotta, remaining 6 tbsp. granulated sugar, 6 tbsp. melted butter, the lemon zest, and milk to blend. Gradually add dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Fold in egg whites and blueberry-sugar mixture. Spread in prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake until center is set and springs back when touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove pancake from oven and preheat broiler to high with a rack 5 in. from heat. Brush remaining 2 tbsp. butter over top of pancake. Broil until golden brown, 30 to 60 seconds. Cut pancake into 12 squares and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with the remaining 1 cup blueberries and maple syrup.

Bubbly Blueberry

You know it’s gonna be a successful baking day when upon opening the oven door you’re greeted with a blueberry that had burst while baking and is bubbling at the top of a muffin.

I laughed in the midst of making this recipe because my students and I were just studying the ‘oa’ vowel team.  You know, “Two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking and says it’s name!”  When I pulled the oats from my pantry this morning, I smiled thinking of the children happily chanting the vowel team cheer and doing all the moves that go with it.

These are your average breakfast muffins but sometimes simple is exactly what you’re looking for.  You might not blow the socks off of your audience but everyone will enjoy them.  I would serve them warm with a lovely slab of butter on top.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin with Granola Crumb Topping (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup 2% milk, 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup granola

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, applesauce, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Add blueberries and gently toss to combine. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with granola. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Just a Little Kick

These are good.  No, these are GOOD!  Different, subtle, and with just a little kick.  No, these are SERIOUSLY GOOD!

With the first bite, the flavors are all blended together.  But slowly you can begin to  differentiate between the cheddar and rosemary.  Then as your finishing your delicious, savory (quite heavenly) treat the cayenne pepper kicks in, literally.  The heat at the end is surprising and fun.  These shortbread cookies/crackers (depending on thickness) are a definite crowd pleaser.

Full disclosure… these are butter, cheese, and all that is right in the world.  If you’re opposed to full fat and gluten then these small discs of delight are definitely not for you.

Savory Cheddar and Rosemary Shortbread (recipe care of whatagirleats.com)

Savory Cheddar & Rosemary Shortbread.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  1 3/4 cups all purpose flour plus additional for flouring roller, 1/2 pound aged cheddar cheese grated, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter (diced)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment or silpat baking sheets. Mix flour, cheese, salt, rosemary and cayenne pepper together in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until dough begins to come together. Finish bringing dough together with hands. On a lightly floured board, gently roll or press dough out to between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. The thinner the dough, the more quickly it will bake, and the crisper the shortbread will be. Using a cutter, or knife, cut out cookies in desired shape. Re-roll remaining dough. Although the more you work it, the tougher the dough becomes. Place shortbread on lined cookie sheets and chill 20-30 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly brown around the edges, and depending on how thin or thick you roll the dough out. Cool on wire racks. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week. Makes about 30 2 1/2″, or 5 dozen 1″ rounds.

Pan of Oil

Um, when you think of the Super Bowl you immediately think of food.  Sorry football. That’s important and all.  But let’s be honest.  When it comes to the Super Bowl, it’s the food that grabs people.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Now y’all know that I’m a fan of football, minus the Patriots.  The Rams got their arses kicked in a low scoring game.  It was painful.

But in all of the hoopla of the Super Bowl, I found a fabulous recipe for a queso & chorizo dip.  I’m sorry, anything with cheese and chorizo… sign me up!

Side note:  I would follow this recipe completely but with one change… I would bake the cheese as directed, then when pulling it from the oven I would give it a good stir.  After that, I would pour the cheesy goodness into a crock pot, set on low, so that the cheese is kept at a melty temperature.  Top it with all of the lovely, very decadent toppings and you’re good to go!

Loaded Queso Fundido (recipe care of not sure who???)

Queso Fundido.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  1 lb pepper jack cheese (shredded), 1 lb American cheese (shredded), 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce (finely chopped) plus  1 tbsp sauce, crumbled cooked fresh chorizo, sliced scallions, chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeño chiles, sliced radishes, and fresh cilantro leaves for toppings, tortilla chips for dipping

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In large bowl, mix cheeses with chipotle and adobe sauce.  Transfer to medium cast-iron skillet or other ovenproof skillet; spread in even layer.  Bake until cheeses melt, bubble, and brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.  Garnish with toppings.

Want a Little Fat?

I was kinda stumped as to what to bake this week.  But an epiphany hit me over the head with a 10-inch iron skillet.  (Not really, just being dramatic.)

In truth as Paul and I were waiting for our Saturday morning breakfast burrito, I thought of cornbread.  The cool thing about cornbread is that you can make it sweet or savory.  I was feeling savory and nailed it with this recipe.  How can you go wrong with cheddar cheese, bacon, and scallions.  That’s kinda a southern triple-threat.

So I broke out my aforementioned 10-inch iron skillet and gave it a whirl.  Paul cooked up a ridiculous amount of bacon (for no other reason than we like bacon), and in doing so created a wonderful, sizzling mess of bacon grease.  The lovely drops of heavenly fat coated the skillet beautifully and gave it a sinfully delicious and very crispy edge.

The only setback was the fact that the flavors of the cheddar, bacon bits, and scallions were overpowered a bit by the cornbread flavor.  It’s a great recipe but I was just hoping for those ingredients would shine more.

Regardless, if you want a southern, kick-arse cornbread this one is for you!

Cheddar, Bacon, and Scallions Cornbread (recipe care of seriouseats.com)

Bacon, Cheddar, Scallion Cornbread.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  6 slice bacon (cut into 1/2-inch pieces), 1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 large eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter (cooled slightly), 6 ounces cheddar cheese (shredded), 1/2 cup finely sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425°F. Cook bacon in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour bacon fat out into a small bowl. Return 2 tablespoons to pan and place pan in oven. Reserve an additional 2 tablespoons fat and discard the rest or save for another use. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, buttermilk, eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat. Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Stir in bacon, cheese, and scallions. Using pot holders, carefully remove hot pan from oven. Pour in cornbread batter and place in oven. Bake until skewer inserted into middle of cornbread comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out to wire rack and let cool an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Reheat any leftover cornbread before serving again.