Monday, February 25, 2019

Chicken and Dumplings: The Good Kind

There are two basic schools of Chicken and Dumplings: Those where the dumpling dough is rolled out and cut into strips, and those where the dough is softer and dropped into the stew in blobs. The first type is what you would find at Cracker Barrel: Bits of chicken in a bland gravy with broad, slippery noodle-things. I find this type of Chicken and Dumplings to be edible, but unappetizing. By contrast, the recipe below is a slightly creamy chicken stew, rich with vegetables and herbs and topped with fluffy clouds of steamed dough. This is the definition of comfort food. This is Chicken and Dumplings as it should be.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I've been making blueberry muffins for a long time, using various recipes over the years. I never had a particular favorite, though. I hadn't made any for a long time, but recently I needed an easy breakfast-y treat for a Meal Train and the idea of blueberry muffins struck. Looking for a new recipe, I checked Smitten Kitchen as I almost always do, and of course she had one that looked just the thing. It included lemon, which is my favorite flavoring for blueberry muffins, and called for yogurt or sour cream in place of the usual milk or buttermilk. Her recipe is an adaptation of other recipes, and so on, and so on .... Here's my take on it; I've even included a variation for Orange Cranberry Muffins.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Butterscotch Blondies

This recipe for Butterscotch Blondies from Land O' Lakes has been a standby for me for many years. I picked up the recipe one year when I was doing an assortment of bars for Christmas boxes. It earned a firm place in my repertoire and is an easy choice when I need to bring a treat to a potluck or party but am short on time. It's one of those recipes -- like my Ginger Molasses Cookies -- that tastes so much better than you would assume from just reading the recipe.

Butterscotch Blondies

Note:  This recipe can also be made in an 8 x 8 square pan, although it may require a little more time in the oven. Double the recipe if you'd like to make a 13 x 9 pan, and increase cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes.

adapted from Land O' Lakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (about 1/2 bag) butterscotch morsels

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Sift together flour,
baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter with sugar and brown
sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add dry ingredients,
beating on low speed until thoroughly combined.

Spread batter in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle butterscotch pieces evenly over top.
Bake 5 minutes or just until butterscotch is shiny and soft. With knife, swirl pieces
into batter to create a marbled effect. Return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes
longer, or until set. Cool on wire rack; cut into bars.

Yields: 16 bars

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sweet and Salty Goldfish Crunch Mix

This party mix is great if you want something a little different than the usual Chex Mix.

Sweet and Salty Goldfish Crunch Mix

2 (6-oz.) bags salted Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers
1 1/2 cups dark raisins
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
1 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tbls. light corn syrup
2 tbls. water
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix goldfish, raisins and peanuts in a large baking pan. Place in warm oven (275F) while making syrup mixture.

Melt butter in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Add sugars, corn syrup and water. Boil to 270F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over warm goldfish mixture and toss gently.

Spray 3 large cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Spread mixture equally on the 3 prepared cookie sheets. With a wooden spoon, separate into bite-size pieces while still warm. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Makes 8 cups.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Southern Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving in the South, at least in my family, always includes cornbread dressing to go with the turkey. Traditionally, Southerners don't stuff the bird but cook a cornbread-based mixture in a pan. When I was growing up, my mother told me this was because cooking stuffing inside the turkey was dangerous -- it could lead to ptomaine poisoning.

This isn't just an old wives' tale. It's true that the stuffing can get soaked with turkey juices but not cook to a high enough temperature to be safe as it's buried deep inside the bird. Besides, there would never be enough stuffing to go around to give everyone an ample portion (not to mention seconds and leftovers).

My family frequently duplicated the basics of Thanksgiving dinner for Christmas dinner as well, and I always welcomed the opportunity to have turkey and dressing in December, too. We've gotten away from that habit, but really you can have turkey and dressing -- or chicken and dressing -- any time of year.

My mother did not have a written recipe for her dressing. She worked with some basic ratios but this was mostly a recipe that she made by look and feel. I've continued in this vein, but given that I only make this once per year at best, I decided to document what I did last year. So, with a few tweaks, this is essentially my mother's dressing. We frequently prepare a double recipe so that we can enjoy leftovers the next day, and have enough for guests to take some home if they like.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sweet Relief 3.0 Bake Sale Wrap Up

Yesterday was the Nashville Food Blogger bake sale Sweet Relief 3.0 to benefit the Houston Food Bank in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Tailgate Brewery generously provided the space, and the turnout was great. We raised just over $1200 for the food bank!

If you were able to make it out, I hope you enjoyed the treats that we were able to provide. Three of the items I donated have been posted on the blog previously; one is new. Follow the links below to get recipes and information about each.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

These Ginger Molasses Cookies have been in my repertoire for a long time, but it had been a while since I'd made them. I usually baked them to include in treat boxes that I used to make up for Christmas gifts. When I was considering what to make for the Nashville Food Blogger bake sale for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, they seemed a perfect option. The warm spices and dark sweetness of the molasses are appropriate for the approach of autumn. Better yet, they are easy to make and package, both important considerations when baking for a sale.

Whenever I make these, I wonder why I don't make them more often, because they are more delicious than the recipe would make you think. The original recipe (I didn't make note of the source and have forgotten what it was) called them a Ginger Snap, but they do not snap. While they are a firm cookie with a slightly crisp edge, there's still a bit of softness that makes them a satisfying bite with a bit of chew.