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Breads/Biscuits/ Morning Foods/ Pastries

Blueberry French Toast Muffins

Great little breakfast treat.

In my search for a cake to bake in my German pan (Gugelhupf – bundt) I came across a girl from Germany that posted a delicious looking cake. After translating some of her things so I could read the recipe I came across her blogroll and some of the blogs she follows which is where I happened upon Moey’s Kitchen blog.

I’m not sure if my translator worked word for work but I THINK she lives in Cologne, Germany with her husband and a cat in a city on the Rhine. Now doesn’t that sound wonderful and when I read about her trips to weekly markets, vegetable stalls and Turkish green groceries, French cheese vendors, regional butchers it makes me want to hop on a plane and knock on her day and say “What’s for lunch Moey?”

I’ve found my newest obsession now is to translate a few German blogs I’ve fallen for and then what’s next? I can move on to French, Swedish or just about anyplace my little nibble fingers will take me.

Now on to this French toast recipe. Moey gave me the idea of doing French toast in a muffin pan. Now why didn’t I think of that since my French toast making days goes back “decades”. These were absolutely beautiful and cutting the bread into cubes gives all those little crunchy edges to nibble on after it comes out of the oven. I added blueberries to her recipe and also some maple syrup with the milk/egg mixture. I also drizzled on some melted butter before baking.

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Appetizers/ Bread/ Morning Foods/ Pastries

Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuits

Wish I knew this Granny.

I don’t often get foods from companies to try out for the blog so I was excited to get a note from Darlene, PPR Communications, Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuit asking me if I would like to try their sweet potato biscuits. The company is doing some testing in our area in Sam’s Club and she came across my blog. Their sweet potato biscuits are already being sold there and at our Trader Joes.

I love their story of how the biscuit recipe came about. Granny Hester came up with this recipe while experimenting for the perfect biscuit for her husband before he left for the Navy in WWII. The recipe was eventually handed down (like all good grandmothers do) to a granddaughter who started making these biscuits for family and friends and now works out of a 50,000 sq. ft. building (former sock mill) in Ft. Payne, Alabama.

I’ve done sweet potato biscuits before for an appetizer so I couldn’t wait to try out their biscuits with a couple of other recipes. For my first try I used the frozen biscuit, split it and then grilled it on a panini grill and topped with some pulled pork, slaw and pepper rings for a fancy slider for New Year’s Eve. It was really good that way because the biscuit got kind of crisp, almost like a chip.

My second try was using the biscuits with ham and orange marmalade; I made these many times when I catered. Cooked biscuits, split, top with ham and orange marmalade then back in the oven to warm up.

On Granny Hester’s site they have a Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll made from their biscuits so that was definitely going to be breakfast one Saturday morning and those are in the opening picture.

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Dessert/ Desserts/ Pastries

Christmas Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

And I thought I didn’t like bread pudding!

Are you a connoisseur of bread pudding? Do you have your favorite kind of bread, or ingredients? What kind of sauce do you like, Cognac sauce, whiskey, or bourbon or rum sauce?

Honestly, I have always said I don’t like bread pudding; guess I thought it was like just eating more bread with your meal, and who needs that. Then one year I made a Pumpkin Bread Pudding for a catering job and was told by someone who it was one of the best she had eaten. I still didn’t try that recipe until recently and I have to say I enjoyed it very much.

This Christmas Bread Pudding is a recipe from Boudro’s Restaurant in San Antonio and I’ve been told by a friend’s husband (who is a connoisseur of bread puddings) that it is one of the best he has tasted. I decided to change the raisins in Boudro’s recipe to golden raisins and to keep with the season I will add dried cranberries in place of the raisins when I make this Christmas Day.

The name was changed to “Christmas Bread Pudding” because this seems like the perfect dessert for your Christmas dinner and you have to make it before everyone starts counting those nasty calories in January.

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Morning Foods/ Pastries

Baked Oatmeal with Some Twist

Oatmeal or Boatmeal? Depends on who’s eating it.

Maybe you don’t remember the scene out of Oliver Twist where the little boy is eating gruel (see pics below) but I do and for some reason I think that’s why I never cared for the bowl of mushy stuff. I just never saw the appeal to a bowl of lumpy cereal. Seems like steel cut oats are all the rage these days but when I did the comparison, there doesn’t seem to be that much difference so don’t feel guilty not making that bowl of oatmeal that takes about 45 minutes to cook.

While visiting in Chicago back in September on a cold wintery day (ok, it wasn’t that cold but 40’s is cold coming from Texas) my daughter-in-law, Missy, made some oatmeal for the boys one morning. This wasn’t just plain old oatmeal but it was BOATMEAL with little sails in each boat. She make one chocolate/chocolate and one with cooked cinnamon apples that we had left over from dinner the night before. She uses a basic recipe she found on Pinterest then adds in what she thinks the boys would like. The chocolate/chocolate one she sweetens with banana, syrup and chocolate chips. I’m using a chocolate ganache to sweeten mine because I had some left over ganache from making chocolate martinis one night (I rimmed the glass with it).

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Bread/ Morning Foods/ Pastries

My High School Cinnamon Roll

Do you have fond memories of high school?

One of my high school memories that I can close my eyes and am transported back to the 60’s is from my home economics class. I loved home ec class, is that hard to believe? Not really. I liked the sewing somewhat but the cooking was more fun. I don’t remember what we cooked any of the four years that I took Home Ec except for our cinnamon rolls. The class would make these cinnamon rolls and sell them to students during lunch. Could you EVER smell the yeasty, cinnamony aroma up and down the halls of our two-story building. And, the kids couldn’t wait to get a break to go buy one. If I remember correctly, we charged 10 cents each, what a bargain!

Years ago in culinary school one of my instructors told us he had a friend who was a franchise owner of a TJ Cinnamons and that one of their secret ingredients for their cinnamon rolls were crushed “red hot” candies. So, over the years I have made these rolls with and without the cinnamon candies; you can decide whether to add them or not.

Our class also made pecan rolls, which I will also make one day for you to try. They were the gooiest, pecan rolls ever and sticky but in a very good way.

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Dessert/ Desserts/ Pastries/ Pies/Tarts

Peach Tart with Raspberry Sauce

So what are you doing with those fresh peaches from the farmer’s market this summer?

(I’m off in Seattle/Vancouver/Victoria right now and hope to have lots of new ideas to cook up when I get back.)

I missed getting my Fredricksburg peaches last year and this year so I was in search for the best peach I could find. On my way back from Austin one weekend I stopped at Buckee’s Truck Stop (or gas station, or mega everything store). At the checkout, there was a bushel of home grown peaches and they were the most beautiful peaches I have seen in years. The touch was great, the smell was like just picked freshness off some farmer’s tree so I bought a few for this recipe.

You never know what you are going to get in a peach. I have picked up beautiful peaches at the grocery, liked the feel of it in my hand when I gently pressed on it, loved the smell of the peach when I took a big sniff but then when I got home with it, chilled it, got out a big bowl to cut my peach in, only to find when I cut it open it is a mealy, tastless peach. Short of asking for a sample before buying a peach, and I’m likely to do that at a farm stand, I know no other way of finding a perfect peach.

So the sad end to those fresh Buckee’s Truck stop peaches is that I kept putting off making this dessert because I did need someone to eat it. I looked at the peaches each day and the first few days they were smiling back and me saying “we’re ready”. Then I waited, and waited, and waited and when I decided it was time to make it the peaches were in no mood to be made into this nice dessert. They had puckered skin and way beyond looking pretty in their pink skins. So I ate them.

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Breads/Biscuits/ Morning Foods/ Pastries

Bacon Belgian Waffles

What’s better than the smell of bacon wafting in air?

Someone told me once that sometimes in the bakery section of supermarkets they will fry bacon just so it will get people’s taste buds going.  Makes sense to me. It works every time my husband gets up before me which is ALWAYS and if he fries bacon you better believe I will get out of bed and make my way to the kitchen to find that big pile of crispy bacon; sometimes it is pork belly which is even better than bacon.

So, on to the waffle story. If I have told this story before, please forgive me; maybe all that anesthesia went to my head. Just blame it on the knees and my inability to get them back in working order. Anyway, my mother would often do waffles for Sunday night supper since we usually had a big Sunday lunch. Sometimes she would make just plain waffles and we would cut a big slab of ice cream and put between two hot off the waffle iron waffles and eat it with a fork as the ice cream ran all over the plate faster than you could sop it up with a waffle piece.

The other thing my mother would do was to put raw bacon across the waffle batter before shutting the lid of the waffle iron. There would only be one piece of bacon across every two waffles so that isn’t really all that much bacon; and certainly not as much as you would gobble up as it cooled and got crispy out of the frying pan. Back when I was doing technique classes at Williams Sonoma and we were demoing the All-Clad waffle iron. I told the group about the waffle story.  A year later one of the the attendees (a UPS lady) came in and said ” you know since you told me about putting the bacon on the waffles” my family won’t eat them any other way. So if you can’t trust a UPS lady, who can you trust. Try them you will like them.

I finally broke an old waffle iron I had had since we were married. I loved that waffle iron because you could reverse the plates and have a griddle on one side and waffles on the other. I broke down and bought an All-Clad Belgian maker (4 squares) and have made waffles several times with the bacon. If you like bacon, fry some extra to go on the side.

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Morning Foods/ Pastries

Blackberry French Toast

It’s blackberry pickin’ time again.

Last year was my first time to pick blackberries and I couldn’t wait to go again this year. So, armed with some bug spray, sun screen, and some bottles of water, we set out for the farm to pick-pick-pick until we had enough to last for months in my freezer.

Was it ever hot the day we picked the berries. I picked about 12 lbs. before I finally said “uncle” and gave up. It was hot as blue blazes, but did I get some beauties! A couple were the size of a golf ball and I had those laid out on a plate alongside a golf ball to take a picture for you and before I could, someone in my house and I won’t say who (but there are only two of us here) ate the golfball size blackberries.

I don’t know about you, but when I go picking, whether it is strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or any other kind of fruit I seem to get really picky.  I look for the plumpest berries I can find, stopping occasionally to pop one or two into my mouth. I don’t think I have ever seen a sign that says “no tasting”. If there were such a sign I would just hold my breath on the way out and hope they don’t ask to see my tongue. If they did, they would find a tongue stained purple from the berries I have been sampling. You have heard of “taste test” haven’t you?

Why is it when we pick things ourselves the foods we prepare with our bounty seems so much better. I made my own peach preserves last year and can’t wait to do it again this year.  Even though I don’t eat preserves that often, someone will benefit from my making it though I’m sure. I don’t ever use acronyms when texting or typing but for this recipe, all I can say is OMG this is a delicious recipe.

So on father’s day my husband had something more special than his bowl of Cheerios.

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Bread/ Morning Foods/ Pastries

Sweet Cheese Puffs

I love making sweet miniatures and these are sweetious!

There is nothing that makes me feel better on a gloomy day than to get in the kitchen and start baking. We have had a couple of days like that lately that made me want to do just that. I’m off the 21 day diet challenge that I did with my daughter so I actually tasted one of these before taking them to Garden Club last week.

Several years ago I was looking for a cookbook on miniature desserts and came across Flo Braker’s “Sweet Miniatures” and I ordered it from my local library. I always do that with new cookbooks and then I usually just copy out the recipes I want and then return the book. Your library can get any book you request, it may just take a few weeks to receive it from another branch or even state, but you will eventually get it. After flipping through Sweet Miniatures, I knew I needed that book. So I ordered it off the Internet and when it arrived it did not have all the pictures that the library’s hardback version had. So, I got the book back from the library, copied the pictures from each page and taped them into my new book. NOW, I had a book filled with wonderful pictures of baked sweets.

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Dessert/ Morning Foods/ Pastries

Chocolava

Bakalava, Chocolava, anything made with phyllo dough is fantastic!

I have been making bakalava since the early 70’s and I can’t believe I have never been intimidated by working with phyllo dough.  I love making anything with the stuff.  I have made little baskets to use as vessels for different appetizers. I have roll it up into roses to use for platter garnishes. It is great to make asparagus cigars (asparagus, wrapped with prosciutto and rolled in phyllo). Spanakopitas, of course, are wonder.  I have a delicious recipe for Chicken in Phyllo with a Lemon Veloute Sauce that is outstanding (will post this soon).

Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and a sweetened honey/lemon syrup that is poured over the freshly baked baklava. This recipe has chocolate chips mixed in with the nuts and has melted chocolate drizzled over the top.

When we lived in Iowa back in the 70’s, I knew a girl who was Greek and she gave me a recipe for Baklava which I no longer have. But I remember her recipe had a mixture of walnuts, pecans and almonds and also used nutmeg and cloves with the cinnamon. My twin sister shared this chocolava  recipe with me years ago. Her recipe uses orange and lemon juice for the drizzle. I made a few changes to her recipe using the extra spices and nuts I mentioned above. Hope you will try this version and it will be come a favorite.

Delicious! If I do say so myself.

Layered sheets of phyllo, nuts, phyllo, it’s just that easy.

This comes together very quickly.

Finished Chocolava after it has been drizzled with honey mixture and chocolate.

Chocolava

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. phyllo dough
  • 1 lb. nuts mixture of walnuts, almonds, pecans finely chopped
  • 1- 6 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips finely chopped (or use mini)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 c. butter melted
  • 3/4 c. orange juice
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 squares 2 oz. semi sweet chocolate

Instructions

  1. Thaw the phyllo dough according to package directions. Combine the finely chopped nuts and chocolate chips, the 3/4 c. sugar and spices; set aside.
  2. Brush the bottom of a 1/2 sheet pan (15x11x1") with some of the melted butter. Layer 8 sheets of the phyllo dough in the bottom of the pan, brushing each sheet with a little of the butter. (If your pieces are too wide, just fold over that extra inch -- one time to one side and the next to the opposite side) Sprinkle about 2 cups of the nut mixture over the phyllo in pan. Top with another 4 sheets of the phyllo, brushing each with more of the melted margarine. Sprinkle with 2 more cups of the nut mixture and top with 4 more phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with butter. Top with the remaining nut mixture and the remaining phyllo sheets. Drizzle remaining butter over top layer. Cut into diamond or triangle shape pieces, cutting to but not through the bottom layer. (About half way through will be good enough). Bake in 325° oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Watch carefully.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the orange juice, the 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 c. water, honey and lemon juice. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Immediately finish cutting diamonds or triangles. Pour over warm pan of phyllo. Cool completely.
  5. In a small saucepan combine the chocolate squares and 2 tablespoons water, stir over low heat until smooth. Drizzle this over the Chocolava. Makes about 50-60 small pieces.

Recipe Notes

**Note-- Until you get fast working with phyllo dough you may want to keep it covered with a damp cloth so it doesn't dry out.

Bread/ Breads/Biscuits/ Morning Foods/ Pastries

Ruby Tea Biscuits

Ruby Tea Biscuits and our 40th (Ruby) Anniversary

What do Ruby tea biscuits have to do with our anniversary? Well, Ruby is the symbol of the 40th wedding anniversary and that is what we celebrated over the weekend (actual anniversary on 16th).

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We met when we were around 15 and I don’t remember where.  I do remember going to a baseball game and him throwing a ball over the fence to me. I remember sitting in the bleachers at a football game that he was quarterbacking, waiting for the game to be over so we could go “ride the loop” around town for a few hours.

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Dessert/ Pastries

Nutella Cherry Dumplings

Life is like a bowl of cherries. 

That was the title of a song sung by Ethel Merman in the movie Scandals in 1931. That is way, way before my time (a few years anyway). You have heard the expression give me lemons and I’ll make lemonade. Well, you give me Nutella and fresh cherries and I’m going to make these little Dumplings.

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This is the perfect time of the year to buy fresh cherries. And if you don’t have a cherry pitter, you really need one. It makes pitting so much quicker. I love pitting cherries. Can’t tell you why I get pleasure out of that but, as the song says “live and laugh at it all”.

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits. I love cherry pie, cherry cobbler, cherry Kool Aid and even Luden’s Cherry Cough Drops. I use to love cherry Tootsie Roll Pops when I was a kid.  Couldn’t wait to get to that chocolatety center.  (Hum, maybe that is why I like these little dumplings so much.) 

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These are so simple to make and only take a few minutes of frying and a dust of powdered sugar.  I tried making one just by folding it over in a half circle but it wasn’t as pretty. I’m going to freezing these before they are fried to see how they do once they are thawed and fried. — Sherry

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Nutella Cherry Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1 jar of Nutella
  • Fresh Cherries pitted
  • Gyoza Wrappers or wonton wrappers
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting
  • Oil for deep frying

Instructions

  1. Take the Gyoza wrapper or won ton wrapper and lay several out on your cutting board. Put about 1- 1 1/2 tsp. of the Nutella in the center and add about 1 1/2 chopped cherries to the center of the Nutella. If you are using the Gyoza wrapper they are round. Moisten the outer edge with a little water. Pull two sides up to meet and seal, now pull the other two sides up and press to make the little rectangular pouches. After you have several made, heat your oil to 350°. Fry the dumplings until golden brown and then drain on cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. These would be great with a bowl of cherry or chocolate ice cream.