Friday, January 29, 2010

Cornmeal Drop Biscuits

 Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at making Texas Chili (you know, the kind with bite-sized pieces of beef and no beans?).  My inspiration was that I have been craving chili, but I know my husband doesn't actually care much for the ground beef/bean version.  A couple of years ago, when we were swimming in Roma tomatoes fresh from our garden, he made a big batch of Texas Chili and it was DIVINE.  The problem was, he did not use a recipe, nor did he record anything, nor can he remember really anything he put in it.  

When I saw the newest issue of Cooking Light, with it's recipe for Chili Con Carne (A.K.A Texas Chili), I thought I had hit the jackpot.  I mean I usually LOVE recipes out of cooking light.  Many of our family favorites have come straight from their pages.  I don't know WHAT happened but this recipe was TERRIBLE- totally bland without any real deapth of flavor!  Not to mention VERY time consuming and EXPENSIVE to make.  We were able to season it up enough to make it edible- no way was I just throwing that expensive pot of chili out.  By the time we were done though it was incredibly spicy and I had to make soup for the kids to eat.  

Enought about the bad chili, do you know what was good???  The Cornmeal Drop Biscuits that I made.  I do believe that they are the best conrbread recipe I have ever made.  My kids couldn't get enough of them either.  As an added bonus, unlike the Bad Chili, they are cheap and easy to make.  

Cornmeal Drop Biscuits   

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. fine yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter- the recipe calls for unsalted, but I went ahead and used salted and they turned out great
1 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 375*.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Using a pastry blender (I don't own one of these, I always just use a fork and that works fine for me.) cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining.  

Pour in the milk; using a rubber spatula, fold milk into the dough, working in all directions and incorporating crumbs at the bottom of the bowl, until the bowl just comes together.  The dough will be slightly sticky.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  

With two large spoons, drop mounds of dough (about 1/3 c. each) about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  The origional recipe says this will make 10 biscuits, I made 12.

Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the biscuits are golden, 15-20 minutes.  Slide the parchment paper and biscuits onto a wire rack to cool.

Recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy 7th Birthday Quinn! & A Cupcake Cone Journey

Today is my son's 7th birthday.  Happy birthday Quinn!!!!!!  So, in preparation, last night, I decided to make cupcake cones for him to share with his friends at school today.

This, my friends, is how you SHOULD NOT make cupcake cones.

DO NOT use one cake mix for 18 cones.

DO NOT think that the regular recommended baking time of 18-22 minutes will suffice.

DO NOT keep opening the oven door because you can't understand why they aren't done yet.

Go ahead, DO NOT listen to me, and this will be your result:

Unless, of course, you are going for that melted cone look.

Here is attempt #2 (thank God I bought more than one mix):

No, they aren't perfect, but they are much better.  Once I got them frosted, they really didn't look too bad at all.

Here are some tips that I learned along my cupcake cone journey;p

DO divide your boxed cake mix batter evenly between 24 cones.

DO preheat the oven to 500* (This helps give the cones that rounded cone look.  This is also a good tip to use when baking muffins or regular cupcakes.  It is what the bakeries do.)

DO turn it back down when you pop the cones in to 350*

DO bake your cupcake cones for 25-30 minutes WITHOUT repeatedly opening the oven.

Would I do this again? YES!!  My kids had no idea about my struggles and they were VERY impressed with them this morning.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Planning 101

One of my favorite cooking blogs, My Kitchen Cafe, has an awesome post today on Menu Planning.  I thought I would stick a link here, go check it out!  What I do is nearly identical, so why write an entry myself?  LOL!  She even has templates as examples!  Really this strategy has saved me SO much time and money.  The only difference for me is that I meal plan monthly and shop bi-monthly since we get paid only one time per month.

'Bootylicious' Buffalo Chicken Dip

Let me just start by saying, last night was a sad, sad night.  At least, it was if you are a Vikings fan.  This household was so excited for the game.  We made sure we got homework/chores done so we could spend our evening on the couch cheering for the Vikes.  I made this wonderful Buffalo Chicken Dip to munch on during the game, which I will be sharing shortly.  Then, we discover that we, for the first time EVER.  Are.  Not.  Getting.  Fox.  ARGH!  The hubby quickly runs to Wally World to buy a new outdoor antenna.  Still.  Does.  Not.  Work.  Hubby calls our local Fox and finds out that ice took down their tower and it won't be repaired until Monday.  MONDAY?!?!  Don't these people know we have a Very Important Football Game to watch? 

We didn't mess around, we ditched my game snacks and headed to Buffalo Wild Wings with our 3 kids in tow to watch the game.  (And yes, the hubby called ahead to make sure THEY were getting the game.)  By the time we got there, the game was a few minutes into the first period and we had to sit and wait to be seated for a bit.  We didn't care though, we had a nice big screen in the waiting area:)  We enjoyed drinking our beer, eating our wings, and watching the game.  At least until the fumbles started UGH!  We did end up having to head home in the 4th quarter (a certain 4 year old got a little antsy) and we had to finish listening to the game on the radio.  Last night was a sad night, but in the light of a new day, I can say that I am happy that they had such a good season, maybe it will work out for us next year.  

Enough football talk, onto the football munchies.  The football munchies that I still have sitting in my fridge, mostly uneaten;p  I'm sure most of you have heard of this popular dip, but I do love this version the most (and I have tried a few).  It is prettier if you layer it in a baking dish and bake it, but not nearly as convenient.  I apologize for the pic, it is much better than it looks!       

Bootylicious Buffalo Chicken Dip

20 oz. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 2 breasts)
pinch seasoning salt
pinch garlic powder
16 oz. cream cheese (I use Neufchatel, which is lower in fat/calories and we can't tell the difference)
1 c. ranch or bleu cheese dressing (In my opinion, bleu cheese is a must, but I like bleu cheese)
1 c. Frank's hot sauce
1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar, shredded
Celery, Crackers, or Chips for dipping- we prefer tortilla chips around here

Fill saucepan with water, add a pinch of seasoning salt, a pinch of garlic powder, and chicken breasts. Boil until chicken is done. Drain, allow to cool, and shred with forks. (You can skip this step and use 2 10 oz. cans of chicken instead if you prefer.) 

Return shredded chicken to pan, add in hot sauce. Heat over medium heat until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch/blue cheese dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the cheddar cheese. *Very important step: You must now sample it to make sure it’s got enough buffalo kick; add more hot sauce as needed. You want it to taste more buffalo than chicken.) 

Transfer to a crock pot. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top (I just mixed all the cheese in so it would be evenly distributed), cover and cook on low until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks, crackers, or tortilla chips.

Found this particular version on Tasty Kitchen, the Pioneer Woman's awesome recipe sharing site!

Zuppa Toscana

We made a big pot of our favorite soup, Zuppa Toscana over the weekend. It was perfect meal for a weekend filled with Winter Storm Warnings:-) I have posted this recipe before on my other blog, but I am going to work at getting all the recipes off of there slowly posted here. 

I'm not sure how you can go wrong with flavors like this together. Keep in mind, this makes a full, HUGE pot of soup. I don't recommend halfing it though, you will want the leftovers--plus it just gets better as it sits in the fridge and the flavors have a chance to meld.

Zuppa Toscana

1 lb Italian Sausage
1 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. fennel
6 medium russet potatoes, thinly slices (scrub & leave skins on)
1 large onion, diced
5 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
4 cups kale leaves, cut in half, then sliced (stem removed)
10 cups chicken broth
11/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Cook the Italian sausage, red pepper, and fennel in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat browned.  Set aside.

Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon to paper towel to drain, then crumble.  Leave 1-2 Tbsps. of drippings in the bottom of the Dutch oven and drain off the extra. Stir in the onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven with the onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream, cooked sausage, bacon, and kale; heat through. 

I HIGHLY recommend that you serve this soup with Crusty French Bread, warm from the oven. It is so good to sop up this soup with.

Friday, January 15, 2010

BBQ Beef Bites

I really need to figure out a time that will work out for me to blog.  I just decided to start this blog and I already have pictures of about 5 different things waiting to be blogged about!  I would like to transfer over my recipes from my other blog too.  I wonder if there is an easy way to do that.  Anyone???

Speaking of easy, this recipe is VERY easy.  I made the filling mixture for these the other night ahead of time, then when we got home at 7 from hockey practice, I was able to have them on the table in no time.  I usually serve these with a salad, but I think they would be really good with coleslaw too.

BBQ Beef Bites

1 lb. ground beef
1 c. BBQ sauce of you choice (I used Famous Dave's Original)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dried Minced Onion
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tubes of refrigerated biscuits (not flaky layers)
1 c. shredded cheddar (I use sharp and I grate it myself.  I am a cheese snob like that;)

Preheat oven to 400*.  Brown and drain ground beef in a medium skillet.  Add BBQ sauce, onion, and brown sugar.  Heat through.  Spritz 2 muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.  Flatten biscuits and form them into the muffin cups.  They WILL NOT be big enough to reach to the top, don't worry about it.  You should have 20 biscuits.  Equally distribute beef mixture between the biscuits.  Top with shredded cheddar.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and biscuits begin to turn golden.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Buffalo Wild Wing Night at Home

           My family LOVES Buffalo Wild Wings.  One thing I DON'T love is spending $75 on one meal (yes, that price includes a couple of beers each for the hubby and I.  Who can have wings without beer?).  So...we just don't get to go out to eat as often as we would like.  I guess that is one of the drawbacks of being a stay-at-home-mom.  When we originally cut back on our dining out, I won't lie, it was hard and I really missed it.  Now, I have started to have fun with it.  Funnily enough, many of our restraunt favorites are actually very easy to make at home.

For both of the sauce recipes below, we used popcorn chicken.  The ones I used were the Member's Mark brand from Sam's Club, which are very good and almost exactly like the boneless wing pieces at BWW.  We do deep fry our chicken just like BWW's does, but I do think you could get away with baking it if you wanted to save some calories.  We don't have these very often, so we go all out when we do;P

Sweet and Spicy Wing Sauce is a tried and true recipe we have been making for awhile now.  It is a bit spicy, but it is mild enough that all 3 of my kids will eat it.  It also has a sweetness to it from the honey that is irresistable.  This sauce is not actually a BWW copycat recipe, but it is at least as good as many of their best sauces.


Sweet & Spicy Wing Sauce

1/2 c. Ketchup
1/3 c. Frank's Hot Pepper Sauce
1/2 c. butter
2 Tbsp. honey

Combine the butter, hot sauce, ketchup, and honey in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour over popcorn chicken or wings in bowl and toss.

Serve with Bleu Cheese dressing for dipping!

The next sauce recipe I would like to share is for Spicy Garlic Sauce.  Let me just say, it is AWESOME.  It really is just like the real thing that they serve at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Spicy Garlic Wing Sauce

1 c. Frank's Hot Pepper Sauce
1/3 c. canola oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 egg yoke
2 tsp. water
2 tsp. cornstarch

Combine all ingredients except egg yolk, water, and cornstarch in a small saucepan.  Heat sauce over medium heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and allow it to cool, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

While sauce cools, vigorously whisk egg yolk with 2 tsp. water in a medium bowl for about 2 minutes or until the color is a pale yellow.  Whisk in cornstarch until disolved.  Drizzle sauce mixture into egg yolk mixture in a steady stream while rapidly whisking.  Now you should have a nice, thick creamy sauce!  If you aren't ready to make yours wings, just pop in the fridge and store until needed!

Pour over popcorn chicken or wings in bowl and toss.

Serve with Bleu Cheese dressing for dipping!

Now I just need to learn how to make Mango Habanero Wings!  Yum!  Those are my new favorite thing to have at Buffalo Wild Wings.  When I made the above recipes, I also made Buffalo Chips.  I will have to share the recipe for those soon!


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