Friday, December 16, 2011

Brendilly's Banana Pancakes








This morning, my 5-year old granddaughter wanted pancakes for breakfast. We decided on banana pancakes and I set to work. Pancakes are a lot of fun because once you have the basics down, you can add just about anything to them and make them all kinds of different ways. Here for your enjoyment, is my latest rendition of the banana pancake.

Brendilly's Banana Pancakes
Copyright 2012 Brendilly Bakes, All rights reserved

1 C. Milk
3 T. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 cups White Whole-Wheat Flour
2 t. Baking Powder
1-1/2 t. Ground Cinnamon
1 t. Kosher Salt
1 t. Grated Lemon Zest
1/2 C. Sour Cream
1/4 C. Agave nectar
2 Eggs
1 t. Vanilla Extract
1 T. Torani caramel flavored syrup
4 Ripe Bananas, coarsely mashed (so you have banana lumps in your pancakes)

DIRECTIONS: In a bowl or quart measuring glass, pour lemon juice and milk, and let sit while you mix the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and cinnamon.
To the milk and lemon mixture add; sour cream, eggs, vanilla, Agave, and caramel syrup. Whisk until well combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.
Fold in the mashed banana.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet or on a griddle over medium-low heat (300 on an electric griddle). Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Batter will be thick, so spread the pancakes out a bit as your ladling. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with butter and maple syrup.








Pancake syrups abound on grocery store shelves, but for my money, there's no skimping on the real thing. For one thing, real maple syrup is typically not processed and therefore contains higher levels of potentially beneficial minerals including, copper, potassium, and calcium. Real maple syrup also has a higher antioxidant content than processed sugar, which is found in many of the counterfeit syrups. From what I understand, the body also assimilates pure maple syrup much slower than processed sweeteners, which translates to "better for you". One of the major differences between pure maple syrup and the others is taste. The real thing does taste different, like farm-fresh eggs or fresh cow's milk taste different than their processed counter-parts. Trust me though, it's good, and once you get used to it you won't want to go back. Give it a try......maybe on these yummy banana pancakes, and see what you think. :-)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake












Something fun to do with leftover pumpkin pie. Toss a couple of slices in a blender with 4-5 scoops of vanilla ice cream, 1t. vanilla, 2t. cinnamon, and 1c. milk. Whir until smooth. Pour into 1 tall or 2 medium-sized glasses.












Top with whipped cream, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a yummy and festive treat!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes



One of my favorite ways to celebrate fall is with pumpkin pancakes! I have searched far and wide for a good recipe and I think I may have finally come up with it. They're sweet, but not too sweet, and they have a definite pumpkininess. This batter is thick, so kind of spread it out a bit when you drop it onto the griddle or fry pan. Don't be tempted to thin it out. It's part of what makes these pancakes light and fluffy.

Serve with warm maple syrup for a true taste of fall! Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups fat-free evaporated milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chocolate chips (if desired)


DIRECTIONS:
1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/3 cup for each pancake. Drop chocolate chips onto each pancake if desired. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Meximayo

I came up with a new concoction the other day when I was experimenting with a sandwich. I wanted the sandwich to have a mexican flavor so this is what I did:

1 cup Mayo
1/2 cup Mild Picante
Salt, pepper, and cumin to taste
Mix it all up in a bowl and spread it on the sandwich.

It was really good and the folks I was preparing it for liked it too. Just a little concoction I thought I'd share with you. :-)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Falling for Fall!!

Fall is right around the corner!!! Yay!! Our mornings here are already feeling like it and I'm SOOOO excited!! I LOVE fall. It's when I make my amazing Pumpkin Bread and Molasses Cookies. My crockpot also gets a lot of use this time of year as I fill it with homemade soups, stews, and our award-winning chili. My baby sister and I try to get together and go pumpkin hunting every fall. It's her favorite season as well. I just love the feeling in the air this time of year. I can't really put it into words, but it just feels cozy. Cool air wafting through the kitchen windows and mingling with the aroma of fresh baked bread or homemade chili on the stove. It's the time of year for cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. There's nothing like that cool air mixed with the smell of Pumpkin Bread in the oven! Mmmmmm!!!! :-)

I can't wait to share some of my favorite fall recipes with you......just as soon as I sneak in one more batch of peach jam. ;-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cream Scones


This recipe was originally a Paula Deen recipe (can you tell I like to tweak other people's recipes?). I didn't do much to this one though as it's pretty good as is. I did add more cream and a little lemon zest. If you want a good, moist scone to go with your morning coffee, give these a try.

2 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
2 t. Baking Powder
Zest of 1/2 small Lemon
1/2 t. Fine Sea Salt
1 stick Unsalted Butter
3 oz. Creme Cheese
2/3 cup Heavy cream, plus 1 T. for brushing
1 t. Turbinado Sugar or Sugar Crystals

1. Preheat the oven to 375 (300 for a convection oven). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter and cream cheese until the mixture is crumbly. Add the heavy cream, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat the dough to 1-inch thickness.
5. Cut the scones using a 2 1/2" round cookie or biscuit cutter.
6. Place scones on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining tablespoon cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar or crystals. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes (14 in a convection oven).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Triple Chip Oatmeal Cookies





I found the original version of this recipe on "Brown-Eyed Baker". It's another foodie blog and the woman is a genius. I tweaked this recipe a little and made it my own. It is pretty yummy if I do say so myself. I added more vanilla, switched the chips around, added some cinnamon, and changed the flour. I hope you like it! :-)

1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Baking Soda
1/4 t. Fine Sea Salt
1 t. Ground Cinnamon
3 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
1 1/4 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 cups Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
4 t. Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Peanut Butter Chips

1. Preheat over to 350 (or 300 for a convection oven). Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla.
4. Gradually beat in the flour mixture at low speed, increasing the speed as the flour is incorporated, mixing only until the dough comes together.
5. With a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and peanut butter chips.
6. Using a regular sized ice cream scoop, drop the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart (about 9 to a sheet). Bake until the cookies are slightly browned and set on the outside, but still soft and puffy in the middle, about 14 minutes (17 in a convection oven). Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for several minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Yield: 31-32 cookies

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Irish Plum Crumble








This is what I did with some leftover cooked plums after making jam.



Irish Plum Crumble
Copyright 2011 Brendilly Bakes, All rights reserved

FILLING:
2 cups Cooked Plums
1/4 cup Flour
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
3 T. Irish Creme Liqueur

TOPPING:
4T. Flour
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1/2 stick Unsalted Butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine; plums, flour, brown sugar, and liqueur. Stir until well combined and pour into a square baking dish.

In another bowl, combine topping ingredients and combine with a pastry blender or your fingers until well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle topping over the filling. Bake for 35 mins. or until bubbly and brown.
Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

NOTE: To cook plums, dice 4-5 good sized plums and place in a medium pot. Add 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 mins.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pot O' Beans & Homemade Refries

I'm going to share with you my coveted bean recipes. I say "coveted" because my family LOVES my beans. I do them a little differently than I was taught by my southern mother. Traditionally the dish is pinto beans and hamhocks, and they always contained cumin in my mother's kitchen. Likewise, I do the refries differently than the traditional mexican way. I use olive oil and butter instead of lard or vegetable oil, and I only add the oil in the beginning with the vegetables. My teenage boys always get excited about burrito night when my homemade refries are involved. I hope you enjoy!!

BEANS N' NO HAMHOCKS

5 C. dried Pinto Beans
4 t. Sea Salt
1 T. Freshly Ground Pepper
1 T. Garlic Powder
2-3 Bay Leaves

Pour beans into a large crockpot and sift through being sure to remove all dirt clods. Cover beans with water and allow to soak overnight. In the morning, add water to once again cover beans (or if your bean water is particularly dirty, rinse the beans before covering with water). Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hrs. Adjust the seasonings and serve with cornbread and salad for a complete meal.

NOTE: Adjust ingredient amounts depending on the size of your crockpot. This is a pretty easy one to eye.


ITALIAN REFRIES

2 T. Extra virgin olive oil
2 T. Unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. Sea Salt
1/2 t. freshly Ground Pepper
Leftover "Beans n' No Hamhocks"

Place oil and butter in large cast iron skillet. Add onion and bell pepper and cook over medium-low heat until soft. Add garlic and saute for one minute. Add leftover beans. Raise the heat to high and bring beans to a boil while mashing and stirring with a potato masher. Once beans begin to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, mashing and stirring occasionally, until beans are smooth and liquid is absorbed (a good hour or more). Adjust seasonings and enjoy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Wow! Thank you to Doodle over at Doodles' Scraps - http://doodlesscraps-diana.blogspot.com - for this award. I am very honored. Thanks Doodle!!




To receive this award the rules to be followed are:

Step 1 - Make a post linking back to the person who gave you the award.
Step 2 - Share 8 random things about you.
Step 3 – Award 8 recently discovered bloggers with this award.
Step 4 – Contact these bloggers and tell them they have won the award.

O-K, 8 Random Things about me:
1. I adore my husband of 19 years and think he's the sexiest thing on earth.
2. I am a born-again, spirit-filled, follower of Christ.
3. I have two grown children, two teenagers, and three grandchildren...which leads me to the next thing.
4. I'm older than I look.....so far.
5. Aside from the fact that school starts then, fall is my favorite season!
6. I sing on the worship team at church, and it's one of my all-time favorite places to be.....in the presence of God.
7. I find solace in nature and love the beach.
8. My Canon Rebel died recently and I'm still mourning the loss. :-(

Who should I pass this award to???? I haven't discovered a lot of bloggers lately as I haven't had a lot of time to blog, but I'll give it a shot. Doodle already has one, or she would be first on the list.
1. Michelle at http://www.browneyedbaker.com
3. Debby at http://3dcruiseandtravel.blogspot.com
3. Kathy at http://kkthesecretplace.blogspot.com
4. Jackie at http://holcombs-go-mexico.blogspot.com
5. Deb at http://smittenkitchen.com
6. Pam at http://fortheloveofcooking-recipes.blogspot.com
7. Luisa at http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/
8. Jane at http://thisweekfordinner.com/

I think all of these ladies are amazing and I thoroughly enjoy their blogs!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bren's Chicken Rice Stew

I threw this together last night, just making it up as I went, and it turned out really good. You may have to adjust the seasonings because one challenge I have when cooking is that I don't measure, so the seasoning measurements are guesstimates. It's always better to start out small and add as needed. You can always add more, but you can't take it out once it's in. So here you go and I hope you like it.

Bren's Chicken Rice Stew
Copyright 2011 Brendilly Bakes, All rights reserved

2T. Unsalted Butter
2T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs
10-12 Baby carrots, sliced
1/2 Med. Green Pepper, diced
1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2C. Pinot Grigio or dry white wine
3C. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1C. Brown Basmati Rice
1C. Frozen Peas
1C. Frozen Corn
1 Can White Navy Beans
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2t. Celery Salt
1/2t. Poultry seasoning
1t. Fennel Seed

Over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven, brown chicken in butter and olive oil making sure the oil is hot before adding the chicken. Once browned, remove the chicken from the pot to a plate and set aside. Saute onion, carrots, and green pepper in the same dutch oven until soft. While veggis are cooking, chop chicken. Add garlic to vegetables and saute another minute or two. Add the wine and deglaze pan, then simmer uncovered for 5 mins. Add chicken stock, peas, corn, and seasonings and stir. Add rice, and the chicken back into the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30-45 mins. until the rice is tender. Add beans, adjust seasonings, and simmer 10-15 mins. more to warm beans. Serve in bowls with crusty bread and enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Basmati Rice with Peas

1 1/2 T. Butter
1 T. Olive Oil
1/2 of a Vidalia onion, diced
1C. Brown Basmati Rice
2C. Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Pinot Grigio
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3C. Frozen Peas

Over medium heat, saute onion in butter and olive oil until onions are translucent. Add Rice and stir to coat in butter, saute until rice is toasted brown. Add broth and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer 20-30 mins. until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender - adding more liquid if necessary. Once rice is tender, stir in peas, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 5 mins. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

P.B.&J. Grilled Cheese

The other day at lunch, my granddaughter and I decided to have a little fun with our grilled cheese. Most days she'll choose either P.B.&J. for lunch or grilled cheese. This day we decided to have both....at the same time......together. It was awesome! Papa even tried it and loved it. Here's what we did:

* Butter two slices of bread
* Turn one buttered slice over and spread with Peanut Butter, drop it in a skillet over medium-high heat, buttered side down.
* Place a slice or two of cheese on top of the peanut butter bread in the skillet (we used Colby-Jack).
* Turn the other buttered slice of bread over and spread with your favorite jelly, place jelly-side down on top of the other bread in the skillet like a grilled cheese.
* Grill until golden brown and cheese is melty.
* Enjoy! :-)

We're Back!

Good Morning my friends!

You may or may not have noticed that I've not been blogging much the past month or so. I took some time off to deal with some health issues. They are still not completely resolved, and I'm tired of being in limbo. I miss my foodie friends and the fun of blogging, so I'm back for as long as my hands can pound on the keyboard in any way. I have some fun things to share with you, but first I must get my workout in, so off to my stationary bike I go and I will be back.....again. :-) Have an AWESOME morning!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes w/Strawberry Buttercream Frosting









Ok. This recipe was originally the Mocha Cupcakes, but I've tweaked it pretty much beyond recognition so I renamed it. I played with some unusual ingredients with very favorable results. Everybody loved these. Give them a try and see what you think. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Chocolate Cupcakes w/Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

1 1/3 c. White whole wheat flour
1/3 c. Unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chocolate almond milk
½ cup vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.

2.  Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

3.  Beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture, ending with the flour mixture.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting cupcakes.













Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons strawberry extract
Pink icing gel coloring

1. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about a minute or two. Add the strawberry flavoring and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary.  Add the coloring a little at a time, mixing after each addition until desired color is achieved.

Mocha Cupcakes w/Espresso Buttercream Frosting

First off I must apologize for not posting recipes earlier. I've been dealing with some health issues that have kept me away, but I'm back now with the recipe for those amazing Mocha Cupcakes I told you about. I got this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker. She has an amazing website full of decadent desserts. Check her out when you get a chance. In the meantime, pull out your coffee maker and go to town on these bad boys. You won't regret it (although your waistline may when you're unable to eat just one). :-)

Mocha Cupcakes
(adapted from original recipe by Brown Eyed Baker)

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes Baking Time: 17-20 minutes

1-1/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup strong brewed coffee
1½ teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature

1. Mix the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until dissolved; set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.

3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. Beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, brewed coffee mixture and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting cupcakes.

Espresso Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons espresso powder

1. Mix the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.

2. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about a minute or two. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary. Frost cupcakes as desired.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ingredient of The Week......Chocolate!

White chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate.....one of the greatest culinary creations known to man. This week we get to dive into chocolate (figuratively speaking, of course).

There have been many studies linking cocoa and dark chocolate with health benefits. Cocoa and chocolate contain a large amount of antioxidants (flavinoids). The darker chocolate with the most concentrated cocoa will be the most beneficial. According to an Italian study, a small square (20 g) of dark (bittersweet) chocolate every three days is the ideal dose for cardiovascular benefits. Eating more does not provide additional benefits, except on an emotional level maybe. ;-) Bottom line - if chocolate is going to be good for you at all, it's the dark chocolate, and here's why. Cocoa beans contain polyphenols (similar to those found in wine) with antioxidant properties which are health beneficial. These compounds are called flavonoids. The antioxidant flavonoids reduce the blood's ability to clot and thus reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks. The higher the level of cacao in your chocolate bar, the more flavonoids. Okay, enough of the scientific stuff. Now to some fun stuff.

Many modern historians have estimated that chocolate has been around for about 200 years and for 90% of it's history it was strictly a beverage and sugar had nothing to do with it. While we're at it, let's clarify a couple of things: the term "cacao" refers to the plant or its beans before processing, while the term "chocolate" refers to anything made from the beans.

Sweetened chocolate didn't appear until Europeans discovered the Americas and sampled the native cuisine. Legend has it that the Aztec king Montezuma welcomed the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a banquet that included drinking chocolate, having tragically mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader. Chocolate didn't suit the foreigners' tastebuds at first –one described it in his writings as "a bitter drink for pigs" – but once mixed with honey or cane sugar, it quickly became popular throughout Spain. By the 17th century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe. The creation of the first modern chocolate bar is credited to Joseph Fry, who in 1847 discovered that he could make a moldable chocolate paste by adding melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa.

By 1868, a little company called Cadbury was marketing boxes of chocolate candies in England. Milk chocolate hit the market a few years later, pioneered by another name that may ring a bell – Nestle.

In America, chocolate was so valued during the Revolutionary War that it was included in soldiers' rations and used in lieu of wages. While most of us probably wouldn't settle for a chocolate paycheck these days, statistics show that the humble cacao bean is still a powerful economic force. Chocolate manufacturing is a more than 4-billion-dollar industry in the United States, and the average American eats at least half a pound of the stuff per month.

In the 20th century, the word "chocolate" expanded to include a range of affordable treats with more sugar and additives than actual cacao in them, often made from the hardiest but least flavorful of the bean varieties.

But more recently, there's been a "chocolate revolution," marked by an increasing interest in high-quality, handmade chocolates and sustainable, effective cacao farming and harvesting methods. Major corporations like Hershey's have expanded their artisanal chocolate lines by purchasing smaller producers known for premium chocolates, such as Scharffen Berger and Dagoba, while independent chocolatiers continue to flourish as well. (adapted from smithsonianmag.com)

Whatever the history, whatever the scientific components and data, we have had a love affair with chocolate for hundreds of years and it only seems to be getting better. Culinarily speaking, chocolate has tons of applications from steak to cheesecake. I hope to explore some of those this week and nurture our love for this amazing creation of God's.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Recipe Success!

My hubby took some of the Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting that we made yesterday to work and everyone LOVED them! Yay! I love that. :-) Especially since it was a recipe that I pretty majorly tweaked with some unusual ingredients. They're pictured on the left there as my Brendilly Bakes profile picture. Anyone want the recipe?

Cheddar Cheese Smashies

Mashed potatoes! One of the greatest comfort foods known to man, or maybe just me. Either way they're yummy when you do them right. A little trick for keeping them warm if you're not ready to serve as soon as they're done; place them on top of a slightly smaller pan filled partially with water that's simmering, cover them with a lid or aluminum foil. They'll keep this way for up to 30 minutes.

Try this recipe on for size:

8 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 bay leaves
1 cup butter(or 2 (4-ounce) sticks), cut into chunks
8 ounces shredded
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Directions

Boil the potatoes with the bay leaves until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes well and discard the bay leaves. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes by hand, then stir in chunks of butter and shredded Cheddar. Cover and set aside to let cheese melt. Add heavy cream and sour cream, season with salt and white pepper, then beat until creamy using an electric beater. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oven Quesadillas

This is one of my favorite ways to make quesadillas because you can make more than one at a time. Assemble, toss in the oven, and you're done. There are tons of things you can put in a quesadilla, and these are some of our family favorites. Add the ingredients in the amounts you desire.

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas
Grated cheddar Cheese
Frozen corn
Black Olives
Crisp cooked bacon

Place cheese and fillings of your choice on one half of a tortilla. Fold the other half over, brush lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little more cheese. Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at 350 until cheese is melted. Enjoy with sour cream and/or salsa.

NOTE: If you want to make it a little healthier, Greek yogurt is a good stand-in for sour cream.

A Little Treat for Matt's Baseball Team


I didn't get around to the Mocha Cupcake redo (yet) and I made Cookies n' Cream Cheesecake Brownies. Oh yah!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cheddar Cheese Soup

I would not be doing our highlighted ingredient any justice if I did not include a Cheddar Cheese Soup recipe. So, here you go. This is adapted from an original recipe by Emerile Lagasse. Enjoy!

4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup creme sherry
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
Salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Crumbled bacon, creme fraiche, chopped parsley leaves, optional for garnish

Directions

In a large, heavy saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and peppers and saute until vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the sherry and let cook for a minute, whisking constantly. Whisk in stock, milk and heavy cream. Bring soup to a low boil and reduce heat so that the soup barely simmers. Cook, stirring frequently, until the soup is very thick and flavorful, about 20 minutes. Add the grated cheese in 1/2 cup increments, stirring after each addition until completely melted and smooth. Do not allow soup to boil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve in shallow bowls, topped with some crumbled crispy bacon bits, a dollop of creme fraiche, and chopped parsley, as desired.

My Latest Cookie Experiment


This may look like your ordinary, every day White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie, but looks can be deceiving! :-) I altered the recipe slightly to accommodate for Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. I also added flaked coconut and pineapple juice instead of Vanilla. I still have some tweaking to do. They're not exactly what I was going for yet, but they're pretty good. "Awesome" and "Wonderful" were the words my oldest son used. So, stay tuned for the unveiling of the perfect "White Chocolate Wonder". :-)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cheesy Popovers

Since we were out of town last week and didn't give Cheddar the attention it deserves, we'll continue with it this week.

The Cheddar cheese in this recipe gets a little help from Parmesan. Popovers are such versatile little creations. You can fill them with all kinds of things, or just enjoy them plain or with butter.

2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely grated Cheddar
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Whisk in the flour and salt and fold in the cheeses and chives until evenly incorporated. Cover batter and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Put a mini muffin pan on the middle rack in the oven to warm for 10 minutes.

Remove muffin tin from oven (careful, hot!) and pour the batter into the cups of the hot tin, filling almost to the top. Lightly sprinkle with cayenne. Bake the popovers until crisp and golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cheddar Cheese Tidbits

This week's ingredient comes at the request of my youngest son, so it may come as no surprise to learn that it's better tasting than it is healthy. Cheddar cheese does have some nutritional value though. A 1-oz. serving contains 7g. of protein, Over 200mg. of calcium, and 27.4mg. of potassium. One serving of cheddar cheese is a mere 113 calories, however, about 45% of those calories is fat.

Cheddar is very high in saturated fat. In order to burn off the amount of calories in one serving you would have to do 28 minutes of yard work, 15 minutes of running, or 20 minutes of leisurely cycling. Personally, I think it's worth it. :-)

You'll find different schools of thought on storing cheddar cheese. The best thing to do is to buy it as far in advance of it's "best before" date as possible and put it in the frig immediately. I like to either buy it already shredded in large quantities, divide it into freezer bags and freeze it or buy a large block and grate it myself, then freeze it. It seems to freeze better when it's grated. I've tried freezing the whole block and it doesn't work as well. It's weird when it thaws out. The only cheese I really have success doing that with is Parmesan. But that's for another week. ;-) If you have any really yummy recipes that highlight this versatile cheese, I'd love to hear about them. I'll share some of my favorites here as the week progresses. In the meantime, say "cheese"! :-D

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crock-Pot Chicken Spaghetti

This recipe has nothing to do with blueberries. It's something I created for supper on Thursday that turned out to be a hit and I just wanted to share it with you. So here goes.

3 Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2t. Sea salt
1t. Freshly ground black pepper
1/3C. Frozen corn
1/3C. Frozen carrots
1-15oz. Can Diced tomatoes
1-6oz. Can Tomato sauce
1/2C. Pinot Grigio
3 Garlic cloves, smashed
1 Bay leaf
1/2# Spaghetti, uncooked

Place chicken in bottom of crock pot and season with half the salt and pepper. Place vegetables, garlic, Pinot Grigio, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaf, and remaining salt and pepper on top of chicken in that order. Cook on low for 4 hours. Break spaghetti in thirds, one handful at a time and add to crockpot, making sure the pasta is all under the liquid (I pushed it down with a wooden spoon). Cook on high for 1 hour. Before serving, stir entire contents of the crock pot together, shredding chicken in the process. Serve with cheese bread and salad.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blueberry Trivia - Just for Fun

The early American colonists made grey paint by boiling blueberries in milk.

The blue paint used to paint woodwork in Shaker houses was made from sage blossoms, indigo and blueberry skins, mixed in milk.

If all the blueberries grown in North America in one year were spread out in a single layer, they would cover a four-lane highway that stretched from New York to Chicago.
(The Great Food Almanac)

Blueberries and huckleberries although related, are not the same. One obvious difference is that the blueberry has many soft, tiny almost unnoticeable seeds, while the huckleberry has ten larger, hard seeds. Blueberries are also more blue, while huckleberries are blackish blue or redish black. This red/black variety is also called southern cranberry.

Blueberries have been commercially cultivated only since the early 20th century.

Blueberries contain significant quantities of both antibacterial and antiviral compounds, and have a reputation in northern Europe of fighting infections. They may also help protect against heart disease.

The blueberry muffin is the official muffin of Minnesota.

The blueberry is the official berry of Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

Most pancake recipes stem from one basic recipe that you can tweak and add different things to. This recipe is an adaptation of my Lemon Cranberry Pancakes. If you prefer to restrict white flour and white sugar from your diet, this recipe is for you.

2 and 1/2C. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2t. Kosher Salt
3t. Baking Powder
1t. Baking Soda
Zest of 1/2 Lemon
1C. Fresh blueberries
1/4C. Agave Nectar
2C. Buttermilk
1/2C. Canola Oil
2t.Vanilla
3 Eggs

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and the lemon zest. In another bowl, combine the liquid ingredients then add to dry ingredients. Pour batter onto hot griddle coated with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Immediately drop a few blueberries onto each pancake. Turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is lightly browned. Yield: 24 pancakes

NOTE: There are some really fun flavored Agave nectars on the market. I find mine at Sprouts Farmers Market, and they really add to your recipes. Have fun!

Blueberry-Maple Muffins

This is a muffin recipe I've used for years and it comes out of my "The Essential Eating Well Cookbook". It calls for whole flaxseeds, but I've never used them.

1/3C. Whole flaxseeds
1C. Whole wheat flour
3/4C. plus 2T. Unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2t. Baking powder
1/2t. Baking soda
1/4t. Salt
1t. Ground Cinnamon
2 Large Eggs
1/2C. Pure maple syrup
1C. Buttermilk
1/4C. Canola oil
2t. Freshly grated orange zest
1T. orange juice
1t. Vanilla extract
1 and 1/2C. Fresh blueberries
1T. granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray (or use liners).
2. Grind flaxseeds (if using) in a spice mill or dry blender. Transfer to a large bowl. Add whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk to blend.
3. Whisk eggs and maple syrup in a medium bowl until smooth. Add buttermilk, oil, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla; whisk until blended. Add to the flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in blueberries. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups (I use an ice cream scoop). Sprinkle tops with granulated sugar.
4. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Yield: 1 doz. muffins

PER MUFFIN: 207 CALORIES; 8 G FAT; 36 MG CHOLESTEROL; 29 G CARBOHYDRATE; 5 G PROTEIN; 4 G FIBER; 185 MG SODIUM.

NOTE: If you don't have buttermilk, make your own "sour milk"; mix 1T. lemon juice or vinegar to every cup of milk.
Also, flaxseed meal can be used in place of the whole flaxseed. Just add a tablespoon or two.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blueberries are the Bomb!

Another little dietary powerhouse is the blueberry. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants which help neutralize free radicals which are unstable molecules linked to the development of a number of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's. According to the USDA database of the antioxidant activity of selected foods (ORAC values), blueberries rank among the highest on a per serving basis. Substances in blueberries called polyphenols, specifically anthocyanins that give blueberries their blue hue, are the major contributors to the antioxidant activity of blueberries. A lot of scientific terminology, but it all means that blueberries are very good for you. Blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C. One serving (1cup) of blueberries contains almost 25% of the daily requirement for Vitamin C, and only 80 calories. Blueberries are also an excellent source of manganese. Manganese plays an important role in the development of bones and in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate and fat. In Texas, blueberry harvest happens in June and July. In other parts of the country the season continues into September, although the bushes grow year-round.

Blueberries can also be purchased dried and can be a tasty addition to a lot of the same things you'd use dried cranberries in. While some research has shown dried blueberries to be as much as four times higher in antioxidants, they are also higher in calories and sugar. That is always true of dried versus fresh. However, dried fruit has a few other benefits. It's high in fiber. It's a healthier alternative to sugary snacks and a good source of quick energy. Many dried fruits are also high in iron, potassium, and selenium — all important nutrients for maintaining healthy blood and muscles.

For this week, we'll be focusing on fresh blueberries. I'll bring you some interesting recipes as well as the old favorites. If you've yet to try blueberries or have been hesitant to use them in recipes. Step out and give one of the recipes I provide here a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tasty Ways to Use Dried Cranberries

As I've mentioned before, we love cranberries at my house. I find dried cranberries particularly versatile. My husband deals with high cholesterol so we eat oatmeal for breakfast a lot (fortunately my husband loves it) and dried cranberries are a very tasty addition. In fact, I rarely make oatmeal without them. I add them to cookie recipes, pancakes, couscous, salad....anywhere I want a little something extra. Here are a couple of my family's favorite recipes:

Lemon Cranberry Pancakes

2 1/2 c. Whole wheat pastry flour
2t. Kosher salt
3t. Baking powder
1t. Baking soda
1 1/2 t. Cinnamon
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1-2 c. Dried cranberries
1/4 c. Agave nectar
2 c. Buttermilk
1/2 c. Canola oil
2t. Vanilla
3 eggs

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and the lemon zest with a whisk. In another bowl, combine the liquid ingredients, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix until there are no lumps. Pour batter onto hot griddle or non-stick pan coated with butter or cooking spray. Immediately drop a few dried cranberries onto each pancake. Turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is lightly browned. Yield: 24 pancakes

Peanut Butter Cranberry Rollups

1 Flour tortilla per Rollups (we use whole wheat)
Creamy Peanut Butter
Dried Cranberries

Spread tortilla with desired amount of peanut butter. Sprinkle desired amount of cranberries over peanut butter. Roll up and enjoy! This is my 4-year old granddaughter's favorite lunch.

More recipes to come!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Dish on Cranberries

Cranberries can be consumed fresh as berries, as juice and in dried form with equal impact. Dried cranberries are amazing in that they retain all the characteristics of fresh berries; low in cholesterol and sodium, good aids to boosting immunity, good sources of fiber and Vitamin C, and serve as good antibacterial agents, and are accessible in different seasons and different conditions. Dried cranberries are a handy snack that you can carry with you wherever you go. Dried cranberries are a good source of proanthocyanidins, which are also called tannins. These prevent bacteria such as Escherichia coli from settling along the urinary tract and that is why cranberries are a popular cure for urinary infections.

One of the major flavonoids in cranberries is quercetin. It is found to be a good anti-inflammatory and is particularly effective if used in the early stages of an inflammation. It is also known to have iron-binding capabilities.

Another flavnoid that is found in dried cranberries is myricetin which is recognized as an antioxidant. Myricetin is said to have the ability to fight prostate cancer in particular and is effective on the whole in fighting carcinogens.

On the whole, dried cranberries have a lot to offer. For such a small berry, they pack a huge nutritional boost. I use them in all kinds of dishes, and as often as possible. We love them in our house. Give them a try and see if you don't fall in love with them as well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lemony Recipes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

1 1/2C. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2T. Baking Powder
1t. Ground Nutmeg
1t. Ground Cinnamon
1/2t. Salt
4T. Sugar
2C. Ricotta Cheese
4 Eggs
1 1/3C. Milk
1 Meyer Lemon, Zested and Juiced
Butter for griddle

Preheat a nonstick griddle.
Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk together the cheese, eggs, milk, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. Brush the hot griddle with butter. For each pancake, pour approximately 1/4 cup measure of the batter on the griddle and cook on both sides until light golden brown. Repeat until all batter is used.
Yield: 8-12 pancakes


Lemon Bars

This recipe originally came from Ina Garten, one of my favorite cooks, and I tweaked it to my liking.

For the crust:
1/2 pound Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1/2C. Sugar
2C. Flour
1/8t. Kosher Salt

For the filling:
6 extra-large Eggs at room temperature
3C. Sugar
1T. grated Lemon Zest (2-4 lemons)
1C. freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1C. Flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9x13x2" baking sheet, building up a 1/2" edge on all sides. Chill.
Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.
Yield: 20 squares or 40 triangles

The Skinny on Lemons

Okay! Let's get to our ingredient of the week. Drum roll please......LEMONS!! Lemons are an amazing creation. They are so versatile, and they brighten up almost any recipe. The juice is used to make lemonade, soft drinks, and marinades. Not to mention some pretty yummy desserts like lemon cheesecake, lemon bars, and my yummy Lemon Ricotta pancakes which I will share with you later. ;-) Lemon slices and rinds are used for garnishes. Lemon zest, the grated outer rind, is used to add flavor to baked goods, rice, and lots of other dishes. Lemon juice also acts as a short-term preservative on certain foods that tend to oxidize and turn brown after being sliced, such as apples, bananas, and avocados. Also, I don't know how to explain this scientifically, but the flavor of lemon somehow makes the pallet think it's had salt, thereby allowing you to add less salt to a dish when you include lemon.

The average lemon contains approximately 3 tablespoons of juice. Allowing lemons to come to room temperature and rolling them on the counter before squeezing both make the juice easier to extract. A good way to store cut lemons is in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator. A 3.5oz. lemon contains; 2.8g of dietary fiber, 53.0mg of vitamin C, 26mg. of calcium, 8mg of magnesium, 16mg. of phosphorus, and 138mg. of potassium along with several other nutrients in much smaller amounts. It packs quite a punch in one piece of fruit.

There are many varieties of lemons. The common supermarket lemon is called "Eureka". It grows year-round and abundantly. My favorite is the "Meyer" lemon. It's actually a cross between a lemon and an orange. It's fairly thin-skinned and less acidic than the Eureka. Meyers require more care when shipping and are not widely grown on a commercial basis, so you won't see them as often in the grocery store. They are beautiful though, and I LOVE to cook with them when I can find them. Some of the other varieties are; "Lisbon", "Ponderosa", "Variegated Pink", and "Verna", just to name a few more.

A beautiful thing about lemons is their wide variety of non-culinary uses. The low pH of juice makes it antibacterial. The peel oil is used as a wood cleaner and polish. A halved lemon dipped in salt or baking powder can be used to brighten copper cookware. The acid dissolves the tarnish and the abrasives assist the cleaning. In the kitchen, the juice can deodorize, remove grease, bleach stains, and disinfect. When mixed with baking soda, it can remove stains from plastic food storage containers.

The bright, friendly little lemon is a great thing to keep around. I always have a bowl of them on the counter. Just their presence seems to brighten my kitchen. In the days to come I'll share some of my favorite ways to cook with lemons. So, next time you're at the grocery store, you can look at lemons in a whole new way and maybe even be inspired to put a few in your grocery cart. :-)

See What I'm Pinning!

Follow Me on Pinterest