Easter chicks

I know that Easter is past. Life gets very busy so I don’t always have the time to write and post things as often as I had. But I wanted to share this fun roll recipe.

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Don’t these look fun? And they don’t take all day to make either. I saved this recipe from a woman’s magazine ad for Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise yeast and PET evaporated milk. I am not sure the year of the magazine that I got this from. I have made these for my stepdaughters maybe 10 years ago but I think I had saved the magazine page before that.

easter weekend 002These pretty much can be ready for the oven in one hour. Pretty good for a yeast roll.

  • 5-5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 eggs,slightly beaten
  • glaze, optional

The best part about baking these rolls again was baking them with my granddaughter. She has “helped” me bake before so I thought she would want to “help” again. And she did! I even made her her own apron for the occasion.

The recipe: combine 2 cups flour, the sugar, yeast, lemon peel,and salt. Heat milk, water and oil until very warm (125-130 F); stir in dry ingredients. Stir in eggs and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Cover, let rest 10 minutes.

I have not kneaded yeast dough by hand for many years. That’s what my Kitchen-Aid mixer’s bread hook is for! But I am at my daughter’s house and needs must! While I am kneading the dough granddaughter is watching and starts kneading the flour on her small board. Daughter tells me that she is trying to do what I am doing, so I give granddaughter a bit of dough and she follows my lead and does a great job. Look at the concentration on her face.

Now it is easier to work with half the dough at a time to shape the rolls. These make a good size roll and will make 18. Cut each half of dough into 9 equal pieces. I did not get mine very equal but it’s home made, so who cares? Roll each piece into a 10 inch rope. Tie into a knot with one end shorter. This will be the head. Pinch this end into a beak and put tiny pieces of craisins (dates in the original recipe) for eyes. Flatten the other end into the tail and make a few cuts. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet. (If I were at home I would have lined the baking pans with parchment paper.) Brush oil over all (or spray with cooking spray), cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes. Or cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge from 2-24 hours. We placed these in the fridge for overnight so they could be baked fresh for Easter dinner. I took them out of the fridge about an hour before putting them in the oven. Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes.

I had packed the recipe card away and did not remember the amount of baking time. I guessed at 20 minutes but just before 15 minutes into the baking they smelled done. And they looked done. The bottoms were a bit browner than I like and I think that was because we oiled the baking pan. I think (but don’t quote me on this) that parchment paper would have been the better choice.  Optionally one can make a glaze with powdered sugar, milk or water, and food color to brush over the rolls to make them Easter colorful. I did not choose to do this.

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And they were served with our Easter dinner of  Prime Rib Roast (cooked by son-in-law), along with cucumber salad and mashed potatoes.  Pies, Easter brownie bites, and cookies for dessert.

He is risen. He is risen, indeed! New life for all!

The Macaroni and Cheese Pot

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We all have memories of food from our past and there are foods that bring back memories for us. I thought I would take the time to write about some of these.

The picture above is the pot that I used bringing up my kids to make their supper of macaroni and cheese. I would use Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from the box. There were often different shapes of the pasta available. This brought tears to my eyes when I saw that my daughter posted that picture and commented on her Facebook page when she used it to make mac and cheese for granddaughter. My son reminded us that dinosaurs were the premium shape. Dinosaurs were all the rage for my son at a certain age. I even have dinosaur cookie cutters! His favorite dinosaur was the Ankylosaurus. Can you name the dinosaurs below?

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march 017“If cows could, they’d give Milnot”. This is the ad for Milnot which is a “nondairy” filled milk product. It was shelf stable and used primarily for cooking and baking. Mom had this as a pantry staple as well. It was probably less expensive than brand name evaporated milk. Milnot would be whipped for “whipped cream” mostly on top of Jell-O for special occasions. Put the mixer beaters and a metal bowl in the freezer in advance. It was also a key ingredient in fudge which would be cooked up in the fudge pot. Now my daughter has the fudge pot AKA the Macaroni and Cheese pot.

I have written some posts on the recipes from my childhood including Best Ever Chocolate Cake, No Bake Chocolate Cookies (in This is Childhood), Missouri Mix, and Candied Orange Peels. And since I have my mom’s recipe notebooks, I probably make a lot of the things she did. I believe my sister has a better handle on what came out of mom’s kitchen since she got to spend more time with her. In high school the grades went on split shifts so I was in school from early in the mornings to noon-ish. Then I babysat in the evenings. My sister had the mornings home with mom and went to school in the afternoon to early evening. Poor mom, she had four kids in four different schools one year!

Growing up, our household used oleomargarine and not butter. When my younger sister was in High School and I had gone away to college, our parents located a farm nearby where they could purchase raw milk. So they bought the milk, skimmed off the cream and Mom made butter. Butter to me had a sour smell and taste. Now, of course, it tastes wonderful, but at first, not so much. I remember bringing frozen homemade butter back with me my junior and senior years at Baylor because I was living in apartments. Later as an adult when I learned that I had high cholesterol there were new products out on the market designed to reduce bad cholesterol, i.e., Smart Balance; spreads made of olive oil, flax seed, and the like. My household prefers real butter but I admit that we did frequently use “butter like substances” as they come in spreadable forms and with the idea that they are heart healthy. They are handy to take on camping trips as well. Another “fun fact” is that cookie dough made solely with butter will crack when sliced frozen. Cookie dough made with Crisco slices neatly right out of the freezer. Mom always had the store brand of “Crisco” to use for baking and frying as well. She fried chicken, beef liver, and steak!

Miracle Whip recipe
Mom’s potato salad: she used pickle relish instead of pickles

And now for Miracle Whip. This is a salad dressing that is making a comeback in the grocery market. We did not use mayonnaise growing up, it was always and only Miracle Whip. This would be spread on bread for sandwiches, dolloped on our lettuce wedges, and as a key ingredient in egg salad and potato salad. Miracle Whip was less expensive than mayonnaise and this is probably why it was a staple in our house. Mom grew up in the Great Depression and was very conscious of costs.

mayonaise 002This was also used to make mayonnaise chocolate cake. This cake recipe was developed during the WW2 when eggs and oil were scarce as they went to the war effort. Mom made this cake once in a while. I have made it with Real Mayonnaise as well but it is nothing to write home about, nor was it part of the standard dessert cooking in our home.

 

I remember Mom trying to get us to eat our Cream of Wheat for breakfast by promising a treat afterwards. The treat I remember was green grapes, but she would not tell us what it was before we finished breakfast. I did not like Cream of Wheat. Come to think of it, I don’t think I got to eat any of those grapes! I was stubborn and wouldn’t eat the hot cereal. Now I love oatmeal; I haven’t really had cream of wheat anytime lately.

Food, the stuff of nurture.

Easter Brownie Bites

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Hah! I finally have an excuse to make something chocolate! This is totally inspired by Sofiabakes: http://sofiabakes.com/2016/03/23/brownie-creme-scotch-eggs/

A while back I made brownies but the recipe was seriously too fussy for regular use: https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2016/02/14/brownies/. But now I want to make some so I can put Cadbury mini-eggs in them. And then smother them with chocolate ganache! I can take these up to daughter’s family for the Easter weekend and not eat them all myself; oh okay, I would share a few with Hubby.

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I bake the essential recipe’s Brownies from the Bittman How to Cook Everything Cookbook on page 881. My step-daughter swears by these brownies, well, not really swears by them, but you know what I mean! It is super simple and makes a chewy brownie.

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter and chocolate. Stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Gently stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into prepared 8×8 pan and bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. Do not overbake.

However I am going to bake them in mini muffin pans so will guess at the baking time. I found that they were done at 20 minutes and even though I coated the pans with cooking spray they wanted to stick to the pan a bit.

easter brownie bites and mac and cheese pot 005I put a mini-egg in each brownie bite as soon as it comes out of the oven. I had considered baking the candy inside but was not sure how that would work; so I didn’t. I am now thinking that the Cadbury mini-eggs are not creme eggs so the effect may not be what I am expecting based on the inspiration! I melt about 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips for the frosting. I added about 1/2 teaspoon oil so it would pour. This may be the downfall of getting the chocolate glaze to “crisp up”. I’ll give it a little time. I sprinkled the brownie bites with a spring sprinkle mix. They look a bit messy but a bit fancy too.

Let’s see what Hubby thinks of these. Maybe not the fairest test since he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth. I’ll just have to taste them myself!! Ummm, they’re good! Hubby says they are a rich chocolate with a burst of gooey richness. Success!

I do put them in the fridge to harden the glaze. The next day (yes, there are some left!) they are a nice bite of brownie with a piece of candy inside, not creamy. But they are a really rich chocolate; a bit too rich for Hubby. More for me!!

 

Chicken Cordon Bleu

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With a name like “cordon bleu” one would think this dish originated in France, perhaps at the famed cooking school. I went looking through my cookbooks to find the recipe to have some history to write this essay. I found that it was absolutely NOT in any of my “French” or “professional” cookbooks!

The only book I have with the recipe is Joy of Cooking. And Joy calls it a classic. So Hubby and I went looking on the internet and found that it is not French, nor very old. It was first seen in print in the NY Times in 1967. The veal recipes date back to the 1940s. The origin is thought to be Swiss. We learn something new every day!

Hubby has always talked about this as one of his specialty dishes. He had made it once before in our time together but not for years. He doesn’t use a recipe, just goes with what is there. His other specialty dish is a stuffed meatloaf. He doesn’t use a recipe for that either.

This past weekend he had the opportunity to make this dish as we had two chicken breasts in the freezer and had gotten them out to thaw. These things are huge! He ends up using only one of the breasts for this dish. He pounds the meat after sandwiching it between two sheets of plastic wrap. And here you can see the flattened chicken breast next to its counterpart.

Hubby then layers this with sliced ham and sliced cheese. The “recipe” for cordon bleu would use Swiss or Gruyere but we have Provolone available and use that. He rolls this up jelly-roll style before placing it in the dish.

We have switched out the square pyrex dish for a smaller casserole pan for the cordon bleu. I cover the extra breast with foil and bake it along side. Hubby then beats an egg and pours that on top. I hand him the bread crumbs, and he chooses the spices he wants. He sprinkles on the crumbs and then the spices. All in between he is washing his hands and the cutting boards to wash away the chicken juice! He puts this in the oven at 350 F and we let this bake for about an hour. I check it with a thermometer to be sure it has reached 160 F internal temperature.

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The cheese is melted nicely and the meat is tender. I served this with a green salad and we had a nice meal. And the bonus is that I also have a spare chicken breast already cooked to make chicken salad or pot pie or soup for later in the week.

Bon appetit!

 

 

Super easy granola bars

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A few years ago I had seen a recipe for home made chewy granola bars made with sweetened condensed milk. I never wrote it down even though I made it several times. The last time I made it I had used a package of granola and did not like the results at all. So I am restless one afternoon. There are plenty of projects to do but nothing is striking my fancy. I really really wanted to make chocolate cupcakes but am determined not to bake any more sweets until Easter. But you all have posted some absolutely wonderful chocolate cupcakes and I am craving them! But I paw through my pantry to see what is there and decide to make granola bars. I figure these will be handy to walk out the door with in the mornings for work. And perhaps don’t really count as a sweet.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

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I start with 3 cups of oats. I add enough other ingredients to make just over 4 cups. I have a sneaky suspicion that the total amount of stuff should be closer to 5 cups. One can add seeds, nuts, dried fruits and just about anything granola-ish. To this batch I add coconut, banana chips, sliced almonds, golden raisins, dried cranberries, and just a few chocolate chips. Actually I use approximately 1/4 cup of each. Gently heat one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk  to thin. Pour over the ingredients and mix to coat everything.

granola bars 002I line a 13 x 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Pour the “batter” into this pan. I pat it down evenly with another piece of parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes. At this point I do not remember if I’m supposed to let cool before cutting or not. I lift it out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. When I tried to cut it warm it started falling apart.

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I let them cool a little bit and then I cut them into bars. The outer ones hold together better than the middle but they will firm up as they cool more.

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I love parchment paper. It is a wonderful invention. Growing up my mother used waxed paper or just greased the pan with Crisco. There was always a small hand sized square of waxed paper in the Crisco can for this purpose. The second greatest invention is cooking spray.

The granola bars are a hit. Hubby says “I like the taste”. They taste like honey and oats. These will be good for Hubby to grab and go in the morning when leaving for work along with a piece of fruit. That goes for me too!

Boeuf Bourguignonne “on the fly”

According to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Boeuf Bourguignon is “Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms” (page 315). And then on page 326, a variation is Saute de Boeuf a la Bourguignonne which is how “to entertain important guests in a hurry”. Well I have the ingredients and I had been thinking about making this. So one evening, I am barely motivated to cook dinner when it occurs to me that I could jump up from the sofa, walk into the kitchen, and make this before Hubby comes home. I even have half of a baguette to soak up the juices.

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I start pulling stuff together and decide I don’t like the looks of the mushrooms, so I don’t add them. I don’t follow the recipe directions at all. I use garlic powder instead of mincing up garlic cloves, but I do use the red wine, beef steak, onions, and bacon. Her recipe calls for a bit of tomato paste (I’ll use tomato sauce) and beef stock which I do not have. The bit of thyme I do. I do not use as much wine or as much butter either. Here are my ingredients. Adjust the seasonings as you see fit.

  • pound of beef steak, roughly cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 2-3 ounces bacon
  • butter, 1 Tab
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
  • hefty sprinkle of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth plus 1/2 cup water
  • good hearty splash of red wine

I put the cut beef in a bowl, add the flour, and mix it up to coat. Throw this into a pot with olive oil to sear. Remove to a bowl. Chop the onion and bacon and put in the skillet with a little more olive oil and the butter. I added the garlic powder and let that cook while chopping up the potatoes and carrot. I add those to the pot along with the broth, water, tomato sauce and thyme. Don’t forget the hearty dose of red wine! Add the beef back in and let simmer until the vegetables are tender. Without the potatoes and onions this stew takes about 25 minutes. With root vegetables it takes just a little longer.

Meanwhile I wrap the baguette in tinfoil and put it in the oven at 350 F to warm. I’ve got butter in my Butter Bell and wait for Hubby. I suppose I should set the table at this point, but I don’t. Energy and motivation fade again. Hubby must be caught in rush hour traffic as he is a bit later getting home than anticipated.Unless he took my suggestion to stop and get himself some “real beer” since there is only one chocolate stout “dessert beer” left in the fridge. And this is St Patty’s Day. Although he’s a Scot, I’m the Irish!

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So this is my version without mushrooms. I have made this exactly according to the Julia Child recipe in the past and the notation says  “fabulous!” Hubby says this meal is hearty and very good with nice thick gravy. He liked it a lot! Me too.

 

Coffee Molasses Marinade

ice cream 002As I write this I have been back at work less than a week. Two immediate challenges this brings to me are “what shoe will fit with this ankle air cast?” and the bit of pain from stuffing my foot into a shoe all day long! But let’s be real: there are worse things, much worse and many, that one could have to contend with so I count my blessings and am grateful to my God for my lot in life!

That said, when it comes to food and preparing dinner, I must think about and prepare in a more planful way. I no longer have the afternoon to bake bread or the morning to make a cake or get to forage around the pantry and fridge for ingredients throughout the day. This is when I will use my crock pot more frequently and do make ahead meals with leftovers. I am sure most of you have been there, done that!

I am still not walking up and down my basement steps so must ask Hubby to bring up meat from the freezer. He found three pieces of steak: made his day! So he may grill some steak this week and I might make a Beef Bourguignon. And we have some chicken. Chicken thighs are what I chose to marinate and then bake/roast for our supper.

This marinade is from Alton Brown. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/alton-browns-molasses-and-coffee-pork-chops-recipe.html

I have always used this with chicken and have yet to try with pork chops. And because I am using chicken the marinade will need to be discarded and not used to make a nice sauce/gravy (put frown-y face here). I am proud of myself for saving a cup of coffee from the morning brew as well as thawing the chicken ahead of time so that it marinates in an unfrozen state of being. The ingredients are a slight adaptation of the original recipe. Here is what I use:

  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

I put the chicken thighs in a bucket. This is a bucket leftover from when we used to buy large amounts of ice cream at the Sam’s Club store. (I also use a bucket like this for Artisan Bread dough that stores in the fridge.) Pour on the marinade and swirl the chicken around. I let this stay in fridge for 24 hours. I swirled it around several times, mostly at night before I went to bed, and then in the morning before I went to work. This then gets broiled for about 20 minutes in the oven.

Oops! I left it too close to the flame! If I turn them over maybe nobody will notice? Just peel back the skin. The chicken is full of flavor from the overnight marinading.

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Serve this with frozen peas and carrots and leftover salad and we eat a real meal, on plates, at the table. Hubby put jazz on the stereo and we try to solve the world’s problems while eating our dinner.

Notes: I think I could make half the amount of marinade and put it with chicken in a crock pot and let it cook for the day. I could try that with pork chops as well. That way a gravy could be made with the liquid. That would be good with mashed potatoes or rice! Don’t forget the vegetable.