Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

Ever have one of those meals where you are running around like proverbial headless chicken, trying to make a nice dinner, and yet still, you do 456 things incorrectly while cooking? Please tell me you have evenings like that. If nothing else, lie to me. I’m cool with that.

I made fried chicken for dinner tonight. Ultimately, it was fine, but the burner I prefer to use seems to be having hissy fits lately and has no medium temp. It’s either high enough that the food (in this case, the fried chicken) is somewhat burned on the outside and half raw inside or the oil temp is too low and the chicken ends up greasy. Yes, yes, I know, I could just move to another burner, but one, I LIKE the left hand side and two, that seems defeatist. Please don’t ask me why I stick with it and have food come out poorly, because I have no answer for that other than orneriness.

Then, the socket that I plugged the rice cooker into decided to go on the fritz and it wasn’t until the rest of dinner was done that I realized that the rice had never cooked. I had to plug it in elsewhere and try again. So, now we have 3 cups of cooked rice because no one wanted any by the time they finished the rest of dinner.

One part that turned out wonderfully was these biscuits. I have a lot of friends who aren’t comfortable using yeast and if you fall into that category yourself, these are the biscuits you want to try. They use both yeast and baking powder, so are virtually foolproof, and are so light and fluffy. These come together so easily; you don’t need a mixer of any kind. A couple hours chilling time, bake, and you have a pan or two of amazingly delicious biscuits. These are fantastic plain, or with butter and jam.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Angel Biscuits

  • 1/2 cup warm water (between 105 and 112 degrees)
  • 1 envelope yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (just plain old salt; nothing fancy)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cold shortening, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, sliced thin
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and one teaspoon sugar. Stir and let sit for five minutes. it should get foamy and bubbly. If it doesn’t, your yeast is dead; use a different pack.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  3. Use a pastry blender to cut in the cold shortening and butter until the mixture is crumbly with pieces of butter ranging from pea to nickel sized. Pour in the yeast mix and the buttermilk, all at once. then stir until the dough is thoroughly moistened and you can mash it together into a ball.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 and lightly butter two 10 inch cast iron skillets (or a buttered baking dish). Dump dough out onto a lightly floured board. Pat into a 1 inch thick circle; fold in half; repeat process twice.
  6. Finally, pat or roll the dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut the dough with 2 inch biscuit cutters. You can use smaller or larger cutters, but adjust your cooking time to suit.
  7. Place the biscuits, sides touching, in the prepared pans. Brush with half the melted butter.
  8. Bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans once during baking, until the tops are golden brown. Brush with the rest of the melted butter and serve.

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Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

Caramel, Toasted Coconut & Pecan Blondies

Caramel, Toasted Coconut & Pecan Blondies

Caramel, Toasted Coconut & Pecan Blondies

The first graders in Joshies school have their Easter egg hunt tomorrow. He wants me to come be one of the volunteer moms who hides eggs and acts all gleeful to be in a crowd of moms I don’t know. *Sobs* The child is young. He hasn’t yet learned that his mother is a total introvert, with social anxiety issues to boot. While I COULD go do this, and use it as a handy excuse to have a drink later, I think I prefer to go to the Easter egg hunt, cheer him on from the back of the mass of people and then quietly slink off to wait for school to end and Spring break to start. Though Spring break brings with it its own reasons to have a bottle of booze handy.

I already have his first Spring break snackie all ready with these blondies (Did ya see that smooth segue there? Huh, huh, huh?). Generally speaking, I prefer chocolaty brownie type bars, but every once in a while I get a wild hair and want to play with something else.  One of my favorite brownie recipes are these caramel pecan brownies. They are so easy and what you get from that easiness is an outstanding brownie; chewy, chocolaty and gooey. In other words, right up my alley. But the idea had been flitting around in my head to see what else I could do with the basic recipe. I know some people like their chocolate a little more muted and these should please those people immensely. But you know what? The rest of you will love them too. I know I do. These are simple as can be since they use cake mix (yes, cake mix. Quit rolling your eyes; they’ll stick that way.) and bagged caramels. I’ve learned in my many years of life (many, many years) that things don’t always have to be fancy to be delicious. These turned out really well. They are almost candylike in their texture; chewy, but not hard to chew, gooey, with just enough chocolate in them. Plus, the toasted coconut and pecans add a nice crunch and flavor to them. Cut these in fairly small bars. They are pretty rich.

You know the drill… 🙂

Caramel, Toasted Coconut & Pecan Blondies

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk (you can sub half and half it you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup toasted coconut (350 oven, single layer in a baking dish for about ten minutes; stir once during toasting)
  • 21 ounces (give or take) caramel candy (I used Kraft; it takes about a bag and a half), unwrapped (I assume you know to unwrap them, but I have to be careful here 😛 )
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk or half and half (yes, this is supposed to be in here twice)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13×9 baking pan with foil; lightly grease the foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cake mix, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, melted butter and extracts. Use a spoon to mix just until combined. It’s ok if there are still some lumps in the batter.
  3. Use your hands (lightly grease or flour them; it helps) to spread/press about half the batter into the prepared pan. It may take a touch more than half; that’s fine. Bake at 350 for five minutes.
  4. While it’s baking, in a medium bowl, combine the caramels and the 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Then continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until the caramels are melted. It’s again ok if there are small lumps and it’s not perfectly smooth. You just want a more or less smooth caramel mixture, but a few lumps won’t hurt.
  5. Pour half the caramel sauce on top of the partially baked crust. be careful spreading it since the crust isn’t cooked all the way and will tear if you’re not gentle. Top this with the toasted coconut, pecans and half the chocolate chips. Then pour the rest of the caramel sauce over the top.
  6. Mix the other half of the chocolate chips with the remaining batter, then spoon dollops of the batter over the top of the caramel. it’s not going to cover it all; that’s cool. Just try to evenly space the dollops over the top.
  7. Put the pan bake in the 350 oven for about 20 minutes, or until the top it browned and the caramel is bubbly.
  8. Let cool in the pan at LEAST a couple of hours (overnight in a cool place is best), then use the foil to lift the blondies out onto a cutting board. If they start to sag in the middle, they aren’t cool enough yet.. Peel off the foil, then cut the blondies into serving size pieces.

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Revamped Morning Glory Muffins

Revamped Morning Glory Muffins

Revamped Morning Glory Muffins

It’s no secret that I don’t like carrots. I whine about it every time I post a recipe that uses carrots in it, I make mention of it on my personal page in facebook every time my husbands dares to want carrots with dinner, I moan when my youngest child eats carrots dipped in ketchup (don’t ask). Carrots are just…icky. They’re fibrous and hard to chew and don’t have a ton of flavor unless they are roasted (which is one of the few ways I willingly eat them). Did I mention that I think they’re icky.

Except when they aren’t.

These muffins are a definite case of they aren’t yucky. I mean, I know a bunch of you have already heard of Morning Glory Muffins. They’re pretty much a breakfast standard, and can be found in a bunch of home style cookbooks. But let’s keep one thing in mind, please.

This is me. I don’t do ANYTHING normally. That includes making these muffins. I wanted to ramp up the flavor a bit, add a bit more to make these interesting enough that even the kids wouldn’t scoff over having a muffin full of fruits and vegetables. I think I succeeded. These have all the nutrition of the original muffins, but with a blast of flavor that comes from a small amount of dark chocolate, some dried apricots and a fair amount of orange zest, along with some other minor changes I made. These aren’t the prettiest of muffins, since you have a boatload of fruits and veggies with just enough batter to bind them together, but darn, they taste good. I scarfed one down hot from the oven and it was heavenly. Moist, tender, with crunch from the toasted nuts and coconut as well as the carrots and the varied flavors of everything else in there, all finished with gooey chocolate.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Revamped Morning Glory Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup raisins (make sure you use good ones, not dried shriveled ones)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted*
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate (or dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two 12 cup muffin tins with liners. Alternately, grease them well.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add in the carrots and orange zest and stir to combine.
  3. Dump in the raisins, coconut, pecans, apricots and dark chocolate. Stir well.
  4. Make a well in the center and dump in the oil, eggs, vanilla and crushed pineapple. Stir just until combined. Don’t overbeat or you’ll end up with tough muffins full of holes.
  5. Fill each muffin cup 2/3’s full of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees about 20 to 25 minutes, until the muffins are a golden brown color. Let rest in the tin for a bout 2 minutes, then use a butter knife or spoon to get them out to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  6. These are a great breakfast and/or an after school snack you can feel ok giving the kiddos. Drizzle with some honey and butter for a real treat!
  7. * To toast the coconut and nuts, simply place in a single layer in a baking pan in a 350 oven and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Watch carefully; both nuts and coconut can go from nicely browned to burnt very quickly.

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

We all have a mental bucket list. There are some who are organized enough to actually have one written down, but not I. I prefer to keep mine buried in my brain with the cobwebs, the monsters with four heads and 8 inch fangs who come out on nights that I’m stupid enough to stay up alone and watch horror movies, the bad memories of my brother pulling the heads off my barbie dolls, the good memory of the taste of my mothers chili and all the mental post it notes that eventually yellow and disintegrate, leaving me constantly feeling as if I forgot to do something.

Weird thing though? While my bucket list has the typical things on it; go sky diving, hike the Camino De Santiago with my husband in Spain, actually fully clean my house…. mine is made up of a butt ton of cooking goals- learn to make Kouign Amman, make my own wine, finally figure out how to cook so that we don’t eat leftovers of each meal for a week. I have about 900,000 recipes (you think I jest? You should see both my cookbook collection with tabbed pages as well as all my printed out recipes) that I want to try someday. I obviously need to live to be 310. And while making many of these recipes can’t really be called difficult goals, many are ones I’ve had for YEARS and just never gotten to. This recipe was one of those. It’s so simple, sounds like it might be too easy to be interesting in fact. But trust me. It you enjoy tangy, fruity main dishes, you’re going to love this one. It was originally in an old Southern Living cookbook and was just called cranberry chicken. I changed it up a fair amount (it had celery and I dislike celery, it used less cranberry sauce, less onion, it was oven cooked and I wanted stovetop so I could cook this any time of year and not heat the house, etc etc) and with the addition of the balsamic vinegar (God, I love balsamic! You?), it made it into practically an entirely new dish. This has become a family favorite and one of those rare dishes that you can see serving once a week without everyone getting sick of it.

I used bone in, skin on thighs in this, but you could sub in any part you prefer, but watch your cooking time. Breasts will cook quicker and you don’t want to dry them out. This is tender, tangy, sweet, juicy; just an all around winner. We serve this over brown rice. You could use noodles also, I’m sure, if that’s your preference, but serve it with something to use the sauce on!

You know the drill…. 🙂

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

  • 4 to 6 nice meaty chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • one medium onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (I have to recommend Ocean Spray here. Many of the off brands are far too sweet with fewer actual berries)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses (optional, but it adds some depth to this)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (bottled is fine)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Pour the oil in a large skillet. Salt and pepper the chicken, then add it to the pan and cook over medium high heat until it is nicely browned on one side. Flip and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to drain and pour off all but about 2 tablespoons or so of the drippings.
  2. In that same skillet, cook the onion over medium heat until it is limp and just starting to brown. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (other than the chicken) until well combined. Add the chicken, making sure to nestle each piece in there and flipping it once to get sauce on both sides at the start.
  3. Cover your skillet and turn the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer, turning frequently, for about 45 minutes to an hour, until nice and tender. Serve this with ample sauce on the chicken and the side dish.
  4. While it cooks, make your rice or noodles or what have you.
  5. Enjoy! You’re going to love this!

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Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken 2