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Bread

Bread/ Morning Foods/ Muffins

The Best Blueberry Muffins

The vote is in and these are the best blueberry muffins!

Don’t these make you want to grab one and get a cup of tea/coffee or milk.

I always thought I had the BEST blueberry muffin recipe and in fact, in a cookbook that my sister and I put together, that is exactly what I named my recipe — The Best Blueberry Muffins.

If you love blueberry muffins and you think you have a recipe that is wonderful, I would like to hear from you and try your recipe. Like I said I always thought I had the best muffin recipe for those freshly picked blueberries I gather each year. But this recipe is from a friend, Kay, in Missouri (my sister’s husband’s cousin) and my sister had been telling me recently that this was the best recipe and that her husband, Gary, said they were the best he ever had.

Well, I have a freezer full of blueberries from last summer’s harvest and I’ve decided if I’m never picking blueberries again, I need to use up the ones I have in the freezer. For some reason they have a tough skin, I think, when they are thawed and they are not washed before freezing so I know that’s not the problem; but they are wonderful in muffins. Anyway, my berry picking this year will just be blackberries and maybe strawberries.

These muffins freezer beautifully and after thawing and few seconds in the microwave will give you a muffin that taste straight out of the oven.

I made a double recipe of these muffins and put them in a cute wire farm basket and took to craft circle of 50 or so ladies. They were gone before lunch.

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Bread/ Breads/Biscuits/ Morning Foods

Chive, Dill and Cheddar Biscuits

Dreaming of biscuits!

At 6:00 this morning I woke up with the idea of making a new flavored biscuit. Shouldn’t there be something else I’m thinking about the first thing in the morning; like are my knees going to bend this morning? or that pile of laundry that’s staring at me in the laundry room, or what’s for dinner tonight or at least something more profound than a BISCUIT. But what can I say….

Maybe I woke up thinking of this biscuit because I spent so much time yesterday entering all my herbs in a garden app on my iPhone. I spent a couple of hours walking through my yard photographing newly planted flowers — morning glories, delphiniums, snap dragons, hummingbird bush, and herbs; the list goes on and on.

Recently we relocated my herb garden from one side of the yard to up next to our house where I had bat face growing for the last 4-5 years. It was time for it to give up this prime, sunny location to some struggling herbs that were not thriving in their old home.

My husband has recently gone pot crazy and now we have 92 pots in our back yard (I counted them twice). On his way to a fishing trip a few weeks ago he and a friend stopped at Marshall Pottery in Marshall, Texas and came back with 7 pots for $100. (Now that was worth the trip just for the pots and he actually caught his limit of white bass also.) I like having my herbs in pots and now I have a huge assortment of potted herbs even closer to my kitchen than they were and they are loving their new spot in the yard.

This biscuit is getting gussied up with some dill and chives from my herb garden and a little grated white cheddar really compliments this biscuit. They are delicious for breakfast and would probably go great with a country style dinner; and there’s hardly a bread recipe that’s quicker to make than homemade biscuits.

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Appetizers/ Bread/ Cocktails/ ColdApp/ Garnish

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta & Aviation Cocktail for “SNS”

Sunday night supper and a cocktail.

There are two couples we usually go out with on Friday nights and on occasion we do dinner together on Sunday night. This has come to be called “Sunday Night Supper” and we all love to be invited to Sunday Night Supper because that means another night we do not have to cook. It’s fun to go to each other’s houses and see what’s cooking and how the table is going to be decorated.

I usually have confidence in what I’m cooking but never been that great at setting a great looking table. This past Sunday night we hosted SNS and even though there was just a little chill in the air and not a cold wintery night I decided to do a chowder for the main course.

Our evening started with cocktails out on the deck. I had spread one of my French square table toppers (that I had picked up in France) out on my teak table. Cocktail of the night was a once obscure drink, Aviation cocktail, made with Bombay gin, marachino cherry liquier (clear) and creme de violet (purple) and lemon juice and that was shook into a fantastic before dinner cocktail to go with the Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta and my White Bean Hummus. For my salad dressing I used Ina Garten’s Champagne Vinaigrette and the salad consisted of baby arugula, baby spinach, some mixed greens and a whole carton of pea shoots. I also added avocado, some toasted walnuts and some paper thin julienned slices of jicama. I was able to buy all the greens in bulk so I could get a handful of this and that.

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Bread/ Morning Foods/ Scones

Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Scones

I could live on bread alone. Could you?

So today, he gets a treat for breakfast and that’s going to be these bacon and cheddar scones.

Most people think of scones as being sweet, but a savory scone is just as delicious. I saw this recipe awhile back on King Arthur flour’s website and just knew that I would be making these for a very special breakfast; maybe some scrambled eggs, some good stone ground grits and a big bowl of milk gravy to go with them.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: EGGS AND PESTO STUFFED TOMATOES has been one of my favorite new breakfast dishes. Hope you will give it a try.

Such simple ingredients. You probably have these in your refrigerator.

I like to cut my bacon in 1″ pieces to fry then all you have to do is stir and no turning required.

Everything chopped up and ready to go into the dough.

My preferred method of cutting in the butter is to use my fingers.

You can either pat this out to a 7-8″ circle and cut in wedges or use a 2″ ring cutter and cut into circles.

These were delicious and the milk gravy was the best. I bought that cute little skillet in France.

Bacon Cheddar and Chive Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 c. King Arthur all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. cold butter
  • 1 c. finely grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 c. snipped fresh slice or diced scallion tops green part only
  • 1/2 lb. bacon cooked, cooled, and crumbled, about 1 cup
  • 3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar
  3. Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbled with some of the butter remaining in large pieces.
  4. Mix in the cheese, chives (onion) and bacon until evenly distributed.
  5. Add 3/4 cup of the cream, stirring to combine. Try squeezing the dough together if it's crumbly and won't hang together or if there are crumbs remaining in the bottom of the bowl, add cream until the dough comes together. Transfer the shaggy dough to a well floured work surface.
  6. Pat the dough into a smooth 7" disk about 3/4" thick. Transfer the disk to the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Use a knife or bench knife to cut the disk into 8 wedges, spreading the wedges apart a bit on the pan.
  8. Brush the scones with a bit of cream; this well help their crust brown.
  9. Bake the scones for 22 to 24 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the pan. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
  10. Yield 8 large scones.
  11. Tip: If you want to make these and freeze, after you cut them, put them on a cookie sheet and freeze. When firm enough to wrap, wrap individually and put in a ziploc bag. When you're ready to bake, remove the scones, place on a baking sheet, brush with cream and let thaw about 10-15 minutes then bake in preheated 425° oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
  12. **Note: I added maybe an extra tablespoon or two of the cream as it was still a bit crumbly and needed the additional cream to come together. I also used the green onion stems instead of the chives. Either one would work great.

Bread/ Muffins

Honey Jalapeño Cornbread

Cornbread meets a plate of veal sweetbreads.

And you thought you knew cornbread.

Cornbread is a quick bread made with cornmeal, flour and some leavening and there are so many types of cornbread that come from soul food country in the south to a sweet cornbread from Texas. Two things I was disappointed in when we moved to Texas were the BBQ sauce (not hot but sweet) and the cornbread (not course in texture but more sweet and cake like).

I’m sure there are just as many ways to use/eat cornbread as there are recipes out there. My grandfather use to crumbled up cornbread into a big stemmed glass full of full fat cultured buttermilk that would go klug, klug when it was poured because it was that clabbered. And what would our thanksgiving dressing be without cornbread for your stuffing mixture; cornbread salad is a wonderful salad for the summer that is layered with beans, lettuce and other ingredients; and I have even used thin slices of cornbread cut in triangles as a base for an appetizer using smoked pork tenderloin and then topped with mango salsa.

Just as there are a million recipes and uses for cornbread there are just as many shapes it can be bake; in an iron skillet, muffins, corn sticks, fried in a skillet, spoon bread, cactus shaped, and I even have an iron skillet that is divided into individual wedges. I also have these tiny loaf pans that are 1″x3″ which make adorable (if you can say that about cornbread) little loaves.

To me there’s nothing better with cornbread than a big bowl of white beans with a spoon of chow chow on the side. But, on a recent trip to Chicago we had dinner at Leopold’s, which is a Belgian food inspired restaurant. We had a wonderful honey cornbread to go with some fried veal sweetbreads (thymus or pancreas glands) served with a mustard gravy and that was the cornbread that inspired me to come up withethics recipe.

Whether you are having a bowl of beans, soup, a vegetarian meal or just about anything you set before you to eat, a good piece of this cornbread in my opinion would be the finishing touch to your meal.

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Appetizers/ Bread/ ColdApp

Rosemary Blue Cheese Wafers

Blue cheese and rosemary, what a combination.

Délicieux!

We had some wonderful blue cheeses while in France so I decided this would be a nice little cracker to make upon coming home.

A friend made these from Ina Garten’s Paris cookbook and I loved them at first bite. Ina used Stilton in her recipe and I had thought about using a Roquefort cheese since that is from France. BUT, at our store they only carried one brand of Roquefort at $32.00 a pound. Yikes, I was not about to spend that much on a recipe I was trying out for the camera guy coming to my house that day.

So I bought another French blue cheese, D’Auvergne, which was around $16/lb and I only needed 8 ounces. This cheese is made in France and from cow’s milk which has a creamier taste than Roquefort which is made with ewe’s milk. I found this interesting — Blue d’Auvergne was created in 1854 by a producer of Roquefort. After noticing fungus on his bread, he tried to mix the same fungus with the cheese. A littler later, the farmer pierced the cheese so that the air could enter into it and help to develop the blue mould. These days the cheese is inoculated with Penicillin Roquefort. This cheese is best served at room temperature and is a perfect blue for salad dressings.

For anyone who does not know the different types of blue cheese, here’s a quick run down and I may have forgotten a few.

Roquefort is blue cheese from France

Stilton is blue cheese from England

Gorgonzola is from Italy

Cabrales comes from Spain and is a very pungent blue cheese.

Cambozola is one of my favorites. this cheese is German and they combine camembert with blue gorgonzola.

Bavarian is a mild and creamy German blue cheese.

Then you have the Irish bleu, the Danish blue, the Maytag blue which is American, and the list goes on and on.

So, when it comes to blue cheese, just choose what your pocketbook will allow.

I decided to add some rosemary to the recipe because I love the flavor with the blue cheese.

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Bread

Fougasse

Fougasse, a bread I had never heard of.

A French, flat, leaf shaped bread

(Update from France — went to I’sle sur la Sorgue today for market day. Tasted some wonderful cheeses and sausages that we bought for dinner. We have a little bakery in our town of 1800 and the first thing I noticed was they sold fougasse bread. Trying to find a goat farm, olive orchard and wineries to visit tomorrow.)

What is it about making bread that is so relaxing. Maybe it is the fact that it takes several hours to make with just a little work and then you produce this great smelling hot bread out of the oven that you can’t wait to get your hands on. I seem to make the biggest mess when I make bread. I have the flour all over me, the floor, and the counter. One would think I had never stepped in a kitchen before from the way I look with flour all over the place. I am not a neat baker to say the least but I think I can produce great things from the oven.

I hope while in France, that we are eating croissants every morning, French Baguettes with wine and cheese in the afternoon and some other fantastic pastries just for the heck of it.

Fougasse is a type of bread associated with the Provence area of France but is also found in other regions with variations. Some recipes will have olives, cheese, anchovies. Normally it is rolled into a rectangle shape and slashed then pulled apart at the cuts to resemble a leaf. Some bakers make it more tree shaped. This is almost a focaccia type bread but is baked a little crispier than focaccia. My focaccia is wonderful so I couldn’t await to try fougasse to compare.

Most recipes I looked at suggested letting your guest tear off chunks of break instead of cutting it.

So, we are traveling in Provence now and I hope I’m having this bread at some local bistro. I do so want to compare my attempt at making this bread to one from the area which made it famous.

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Bread/ Morning Foods

Chocolate Raspberry Soup Can Bread

Recycle those soup cans.

How many things can you remember doing with a soup can or for that fact any can.

Did you ever tie strings on them and use them for mini stilts to walk on?  I did.  Did you ever connect two cans with waxed twine and use them for walkie talkies?  My twin sister and I did. Did you use them to hold your marbles or Jacks or even use them to plant flowers in? AND, who doesn’t remember playing kick the can out on a dark street on a hot summer’s night until our mother’s called us home.

Here’s a new use for the can if you haven’t already tried this.  I’m making chocolate raspberry loaf in a soup can. I recently had a pumpkin soup can bread in a restaurant in Austin and thought that it was so cute and just couldn’t wait until fall to make it since I always think of pumpkin bread when the leaves start to fall and there’s a chill in the air. The chill in the air in Texas might not come until sometime in December. So I started getting anxious to try some kind of bread in these soup cans I have been saving. I’m sure you could make any quick bread recipe in the cans but I had everything needed for this bread, so chocolate raspberry bread it was going to be. I also noticed that Campbell’s soup cans have a little lip on the inside which might prevent the bread from sliding out whereas the store brand did not have that lip. I think a tuna can would make a cute can of bread or even a mandarin orange or mushroom can would make an individual loaf for each person.

BLAST FROM THE PAST — Garden Vegetable Terrine has been one of my favorite recipes that I make for parties I cater. I finally gave up the recipe a couple of years ago. If you haven’t tried it, you should. If you have tried it, please leave a comment.

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Bread/ Morning Foods/ Sauces

Chocolate Toffee Scones

You will fall in love with this scone recipe!

Who doesn’t love scones of any type, slathered with Devonshire or clotted cream or lemon curd or strawberry jam.

For some reason I just love baking. I think maybe it is the aroma that fills the kitchen and I’m off in my imaginary world sitting in some English garden with teacup in hand sipping my tea munching on one of these scones and taking in the view of my beautiful garden (one that is not fried from the Texas heat).

We had company coming this past weekend  for a bridal shower being held for my daughter and I just happened to have a half bag of toffee bits and some chocolate chips in my pantry and decided it would be a good time to try out this scone recipe. And, since I still had some Devonshire cream in my refrigerator, it was just begging for something to be eaten on.

I love having any kind of homemade baked goods in my freezer ready to bake when I have company or as a special treat for my husband.

Make yourself a pot of tea and either make some Devonshire cream or go out and buy some clotted cream to go with these scones and sit back and enjoy.

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Bread/ Morning Foods

Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Bread

Pucker up for this Lemon Bread!

With my daughter’s wedding coming up in October, I’ve been really watching what goes into my mouth. At this time of the game, any weight lost would be appreciated. Well, let me tell you this past two weeks has been a challenge and I think I made it through with flying colors.

It started a couple of weekends ago with my daughter’s dress fitting followed by two days of some great food. That was the end (at least for a while) of me over indulging myself. Then that weekend was followed by me preparing dinner twice for visiting friends and then four days with our niece and her family visiting. Those four days consisted of making ice cream 4 times, grilled pizza, potato breakfast casserole, cheese grits and I have to say not a crumb touched these lips.

My husband is my best critic because he tells it like it is when I ask for his opinion. And, his opinion on this lemon bread is that it is the BEST. My nieces’ family agreed that it was a wonderful bread.

I love Flo Braker’s Sweet Miniature cookbook and when I came across this recipe from her book “Baking for All Occasions” I knew I was going to have to try it. She calls it a cake but to me it is more like a sweet breakfast bread.

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Bread/ Morning Foods

Raspberry Chocolate Muffins

Raspberries and Chocolate a match made in Heaven.

What is it we crave when we are happy, sad, tired, excited or just about any emotional state we may find ourselves in — CHOCOLATE.

Why do we have chocolate up on a pedestal and why is chocolate (besides roses) is probably the number one seller on Valentine’s Day. I think chocolate does something to our brain chemistry that gives us an euphoric high. So, I say, let’s keep eating it.

Chocolate can be molded into a lot of different shapes like rabbits, eggs, Santas, hearts, chocolate coins and just about anything you can think of can be made into a chocolate shape.

Chocolate does have some health benefits after all. They are full of flavonoids which act as antioxidants. Did you know that dark chocolate contains 8 times the number of antioxidants as strawberries have. Flavonoids also relaxes the blood pressure and helps to balance certain hormones in our bodies. Now if that isn’t enough reason to have a few pieces today, I don’t know what is.

I think we crave chocolate because our bodies are telling us to have fun, relax and enjoy life. Are are last words going to be “I’m glad I didn’t have that bite of double chocolate cheesecake today?”  I don’t think so.

I love having treats in my freeze so when my kids are home or someone drops in I have something sweet and delicious to offer them. These muffins are great for breakfast/brunch, a snack, dessert, or for a husband with a sweet tooth looking through the freezer for something he can eat. This muffin is so good, I think you could frost it and call it a cupcake.

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Bread/ Breads/Biscuits/ Morning Foods

Cheesy Bacon Biscuits

Who doesn’t like bacon? No one!

It is hard to imagine anyone not liking bacon or the smell of bacon. The smell of bacon cooking and sizzling in the morning is awesome and makes you want to jump out of bed and get on with your day.

I know bacon is full of fat but would you honestly turn down a BLT on toast with garden ripe tomatoes and freshly picked lettuce. NEVER. This recipe is a different take on bacon/cheese biscuits like you might get from one of those fast food places that we don’t like to talk about.

I read recently that men prefer the smell of bacon to babies. Ya know, my husband never seemed to be able to smell a dirty diaper on any of our kids and now the grandkids. But, for some reason, he seems to know when I’m cooking bacon. Maybe it is the sizzling sounds coming from the kitchen or me yelling when I get popped in the face with grease splatters.

Bacon can be eaten by itself, put on a cheeseburger, goes wonderfully with eggs (any way), great on salads, wrapped around a stuffed jalapeno and grilled or my FAMOUS Parmesan Bacon Wraps which I have catered for 20 years and they are still a favorite with guest.

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