May 25, 2015

Baking Powder Biscuits and Biscuits Cookbook Review

   Biscuits: Sweet and Savory Southern Recipes for the All-American Kitchen, by: Jackie Garvin
 An entire cookbook full of biscuits recipes!!  Let me just say the author of this cookbook knows biscuits.  You can tell she is an expert biscuit maker and I would love to taste some of her homemade biscuits.  Sure, we now have her delicious recipes, but I would love to try these recipes actually made by her.   She said she has been surrounded by biscuits, eaten biscuits, loved biscuits and dreamed of biscuits her entire life.

The book starts out with stories about her childhood, how she started making biscuits, how she started her blog Syrup and Biscuits.  She then tells you what type of flour and other ingredients she recommends along with tips for creating perfect biscuits.  She has some great tips, like making sure to cut straight down with the biscuit cutter and to not twist it.  If you twist the biscuit cutter, the biscuits won't rise as much.   
The first recipes in the book require using the "layering technique" when preparing biscuits.  You roll out the dough, then fold the dough several times to create layers.  I wasn't sure how this technique was going to work for me, but it ended up being pretty simple.  The only thing I didn't like is the instructions for this technique is not included on every page.  This is when I thought it would be nice to have an actual hard copy of the book to flip back and forth between the recipe page and instructions page.  I have an e-book, so I didn't want to scroll from page to page with my sticky biscuit fingers. 
I tried the Baking Powder Biscuits and they are so light and tender and flaky and amazing!!! Seriously, delicious.  They are slightly crispy on the edges, but so soft in the center.  The original recipe does not call for sugar, but I really really like sugar in my biscuits, so I added some.  This recipe is very similar to my Buttermilk Biscuit recipe, except I don't use the "layering technique" when making them, but I think I'll have to start using that method from now on.

Overall, I would say the level of this book is intermediate.  I say this because some of the instructions might be a little difficult for a new biscuit maker to understand.  It is loaded with pictures.  There are regular biscuit recipes, recipes for leftover biscuits, sweet biscuits recipes, savory biscuit recipes, biscuit topper recipes and more.  Pretty much anything and everything you can do with a biscuit will be in this book and everything sounds amazing.    

Some of the other recipes I can't wait to try are: Honey Whole Wheat Cream Biscuits, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Garlic Cheese Biscuits, Raspberry Biscuit Pudding, Maple Cinnamon Rolls, Chocolate Chip Biscuits, Strawberry Banana Nut Biscuit Bread, Peach Raspberry Scones and Supreme Pizza Pull Apart Bread.
Baking Powder Biscuits
adapted from: Biscuits
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)
2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 Tbl. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbl. sugar, opt.
1/2 c. unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1 c. buttermilk

Place flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix together with a fork or whisk.  Add cold, diced, butter and use a pastry cutter to blend in the butter until it resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter.  Stir in the buttermilk with a fork or wooden spoon.  Dough should be sticky.    

Turn the dough out onto a tea-towel that has been sprinkled with flour. Sprinkle the top of the wet dough with flour.  Lightly knead the dough, working in the flour.  Add more flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky and holds its shape.  Don't let a recipe dictate the proportions of wet to dry ingredients.  Develop "the touch" and know when the dough feels right.  Roll or pat out the dough until it's 1/4-inch thick long-ways on the towel.  Make sure there is enough flour under the dough to prevent sticking.  Grab the right side of the towel and fold the right third of the dough toward the center.  Grab the left side of the towel and fold the left third of the dough toward the center.  Grab the top of the towel and fold the dough in half from top to bottom.  Grab the bottom of the towel and fold the dough in half bottom to top.  

Lightly roll or pat out the dough to one-inch thick.  Cut out the biscuits by using a floured biscuit cutter.  Cut straight down and don't twist the biscuit cutter or the edges will bind together and prevent the biscuit from rising to its full potential.  Continue cutting as many biscuits as you can.  Gather the scraps, stack them and gently press together.  This method keeps the layers intact and will result in prettier biscuits than if you re-roll the dough scraps. The gently pressed layer of scraps needs to be about one-inch thick.  Cut as many biscuits as you can get.  

Place the cut out biscuits on a baking sheet that has been greased or covered with a baking mat.  Scoot these layered biscuits next to each other to help them rise up straight and not fall over.  Brush tops with cooking oil, butter or milk.   Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.  Makes 12-15 biscuits.           

Jenn's Notes: Sugar is not in the original recipe, but I really like sugar in my biscuits, so I added some.  I was only able to get 10 biscuits.

I received this book from the Publisher for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed herein are my own.  

May 20, 2015

Ham, Bacon and Cheese Bagel Snacks

I woke up Saturday morning, watched a few cooking shows while I sipped on my hot cup of coffee and lounged around for a few hours.  By the time noon came around, I was hungry and I wanted a quick and easy lunch.
I grew up eating Bagel Bites and I loved them.  This is my grown up version of those delicious mini bagel snacks.  Instead of using mini bagels, I used small bagels.  They are between the size of mini and regular.  I used Mayonnaise as the binder, just like in this Olive Cheese Bread and these Muffin Melts.  I have now made these several times and I love them.    
 They are perfect for breakfast, lunch, an after-school snack or even dinner.  

They take minutes to throw together and then they are baked until the cheese is melty and bubbly and absolute perfection.  

You might also like:
Rise and Shine Breakfast Bagel Sandwich
Homemade Raspberry Cream Cheese Spread
Mini Breakfast Pizzas
Ham, Bacon and Cheese Bagel Snacks
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture) 

3/4 c. diced deli ham
1/3 c. bacon crumbles or 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c. grated Cheddar or Monterey cheese
1/2 c. mayonnaise (I use light)
1/2 tsp. Johnny's garlic seasoning (or garlic powder)
1/8 tsp. onion powder, opt.
finely chopped green onions, for garnish
4 small bagels, split

In a medium bowl combine the ham, bacon, cheese, mayonnaise, Johnny's garlic seasoning and onion powder.  Spread mixture over bagel halves and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  If you want a crispier bagel: bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes and then broil for 2-3 minutes.  If you want a less crunchy bagel: broil for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.  Garnish with green onions, if desired, and serve.   

Jenn's Notes: I buy a big bag of Bacon Crumbles from Costco and that is what I like to use, because it is so much easier than cooking bacon. 

May 17, 2015

Banana Cream Brownie Squares

My Dad buys me cookbooks every once in a while and he always flips through them first to make sure there is some good sounding stuff.  He picked me one up the other day and he had two recipe requests.  These brownies were one of those requests.

I am soooooo glad he picked this recipe out and that I tried them . . . . because . . . .

Holy cow . . . these brownies are reeeeeally good :)

Fudgy chocolate brownies with sweet sliced bananas and light and pillowy vanilla pudding drizzled with chocolate sauce.  mmm mmm mmm.  This recipe is a total winner and so super simple to make.  

You might also like:
Banana Cream Brownie Squares
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 box fudge brownie mix, plus ingredients to make brownies (I like Betty Crocker)
3 ripe bananas
1 (5.1 oz.) box vanilla instant pudding
1 1/4 c. milk
1 (8 oz.) carton Cool Whip, thawed (I used light)
chocolate syrup, for garnish, opt.
mini chocolate chips, for garnish, opt.
whipped cream, for garnish, opt.

Prepare brownies according to package directions for a 9x13-inch pan.  Cool completely.  Slice bananas and layer on top of the brownies.  Whisk together pudding mix and milk until combined.  Fold in Cool Whip and spread evenly over the bananas.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with chocolate syrup, mini chocolate chips and whipped cream, if desired. 

adapted from:  Uinta County Cattlewomen Cookbook, submitted by Angela S.

May 14, 2015

Mexican Pasta Salad

Who is ready for the perfect side dish recipe, just in time for your Memorial Day BBQ??? I don't know about you, but side dishes are one of the hardest dishes for me to make.  I would much rather be in charge of the rolls or dessert than a side dish.   

BUT . . . since pasta salads are a classic Summer side dish and frequently requested, it is good to have a few different recipes on hand.  My Mom's Macaroni Salad will always be my favorite, but this Mexican version is pretty darn good too.  Plus, I usually have these ingredients on hand, except for the tomatoes, but with Summer coming up, I will have plenty of fresh tomatoes in my garden.  The dressing is a creamy salsa dressing and makes this so flavorful.  Make sure and use a jarred salsa that you really like, since that is where a lot of the flavor will come from.

I pretty much think Feta cheese is the best thing ever.  I put that stuff on everything.  I love, love, love it on Mexican food.  It adds so much flavor and I loved it in this macaroni salad.  You can either stir some into the salad or just use it as a garnish on top.  Or, you can leave it out completely if you aren't a fan. 

You might also like:
Click HERE to get this great side dish recipe over at THE RECIPE CRITIC'S SITE!!

May 10, 2015

Lemon Bundt Cake

Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful mothers.   

Do you enjoy lemon desserts?

This impressive bundt cake has a sweet and light lemon flavor.

The cake batter is to-die-for.  It's as light as a cloud and so pillowy soft.  It's a good thing that batter tasted so good, because it took a little while to prepare.  There are a few extra steps than usual, but all are necessary to create this light cake.  
There are so many ways to serve this lemony cake.  You can serve it plain with powdered sugar and fresh fruit or with lemon glaze.  I also tried it with some raspberry jam and vanilla whipped cream and it was delish.  I also think it would be outstanding served with some Strawberry Whipped Cream

You might also like:
Lemon Bundt Cake
adapted from: All Recipes 
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

3 c. cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
2 c. sugar, divided
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tbl. finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
3 Tbl. fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
1 c. lemon yogurt

Lemon Glaze
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
2 c. powdered sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1-2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice or milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan; set aside.  Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.  Beat egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form.  Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form; set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter, remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix until creamy and pale yellow, around 3-5 minutes.  

Add flour mixture to yolk mixture in two parts, alternating with the yogurt, mixing on low speed until just combined.  Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.  Pour batter into prepared pan and spread out evenly.  Bake for around 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely and top with lemon glaze.

For the Lemon Glaze: Combine powdered sugar, lemon zest and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or milk in a small bowl and stir until smooth and creamy.  If mixture is too thick, add a little more juice or milk until it reaches a glaze consistency.  Pour over cooled cake.    

Jenn's Notes: If you don't have a 10-inch bundt pan and you can't fit all of the batter, you can always make some cupcakes with the extra batter.  Bake the cupcakes for 15-16 minutes.  2 (6 oz.) cartons of lemon yogurt should equal around one cup.          

May 3, 2015

Slow Cooker Pineapple Salsa Chicken Tacos

Okay, something really weird just happened and I am soooo mad.  My whole post disappeared and now I am having to re-type the entire thing.  Grrr. . . good thing I have a batch of my favorite caramel popcorn in the oven and in about 30 minutes, I will feel a lot better!!  Yes, you bake the popcorn and it gets crunchy and amazing. 

Aneeways, I made these tacos for dinner.  They turned out extremely good.  Especially when topped with this Pineapple Avocado Salsa.  

Incredibly easy - You add three ingredients to the slow cooker along with the chicken.  Sweet fruit preserves mixed with spicy salsa and taco seasoning creates a sweet and tender meat and when combined with all the toppings, you will have one flavor-loaded taco. 

I can't wait to make these again and again.  
Slow Cooker Pineapple Salsa Chicken Tacos
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)
3-4 chicken breasts
1/2 (18 oz.) jar pineapple preserves or apricot-pineapple preserves
1/2 (24 oz.) jar Pace Picante Salsa (I used medium)
1 Tbl. taco seasoning, or to taste

For Serving:
7-10 crunchy taco shells
sour cream
Feta cheese
Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Place chicken breasts into the bottom of the slow cooker.  Combine preserves, salsa and taco seasoning and pour over chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until internal temperature of chicken registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.  Remove chicken and shred.  

Add some of the liquid from the slow cooker to the shredded chicken to keep it juicy and moist.  I added around 3/4 - 1 cup or so.  Taste chicken and add more taco seasoning, if needed.  Discard remaining liquid in the slow cooker.  Return chicken to slow cooker and heat on warm until ready to serve.  Serve in crunchy taco shells with desired toppings.  Makes 7-10 tacos.   

slightly adapted from: The Frugal Girls