Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cheddar and Parsley Biscuits

I made these delicious biscuits last weekend. I was flipping through a William's Sonoma baking book that I got from Chad's aunt for Christmas, and it just stood out to me. It really didn't take long at all (maybe 30-40 minutes start to finish), and was very simple to assemble. I modified the original recipe by using parsley instead of the recommended chives. I really think the original recipe could be modified a bunch of different ways to accommodate your taste.
I don't have a biscuit cutter (which with all the gadgets I do have makes me wonder why I don't own this) so I used a glass to cut the 3 inch circles.
I made some turkey sausage patties, and we enjoyed a cheddar parsley biscuit sandwich. Very yummy!

Cheddar Parsley Biscuits
(adapted from William Sonoma's Food Made Fast)
2 Cups All purpose Flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or use your favorite)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or chives, or other herbs)
6 Tbs. unsalted butter cut into cubes
3/4 Cup milk (I used 2%)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt cheese and parsley. Use a pastry blender or 2 knives and cut in the butter cubes. Mix until coarse crumbs form (the size of peas). Add milk and stir until evenly moistened and uniform.
Lightly flour a work surface and turn out the dough. Knead a few times and shape into a ball. Pat it into a circle about 3/4 of an inch thick. Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter (or glass like I used) cut out as many biscuits as you can.
Take the scraps and form another ball and pat to 3/4 inches thick, repeat the cutting, using as many as the scraps as you can. This should give you about 12 biscuits.
Put biscuits on baking sheet about 1 inch apart, and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they are golden. Let cool slightly and EAT!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes for Nancy

Probably my favorite cupcake ever. And I used boxed cake mix. (no flames please) ; )
I originally made these probably close to a year ago. My friend Nancy remembered how much she liked them, so she requested them for her birthday. How could I turn her down?
They are really rather simple to make, and so worth it. I used Publix brand "oreos" since they were much, much, cheaper than the real deal. But who can taste the difference?

The part I really love is the cookie on the bottom. I like to call it a crunchy little surprise.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

1 box french vanilla cake mix
30 oreo "style" cookies
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350
Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Take 12 oreos and split them in half. (try to get icing on both sides). Put the halved oreos in the cupcake liners icing side up.
Crush the remaining oreos.
In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, yogurt, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups crushed oreos and mix until well combined. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full
and bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove and let cool on wire rack.


1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, beat together sugar,butter and salt until well combined. Increase speed to high, beating until light and fluffy. Add cream and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add the remaining oreos and beat until well combined. PUt in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to let firm up a bit before piping on the cupcakes.

Top cupcakes with 1/2 an oreo for garnish, serve, and enjoy.
My Icing got a little warm, so it wasn't as pretty as I first piped it.

Cheesy Baked Grits Casserole

I never had grits growing up. Even when I moved to New Orleans, I probably only ate them a handful of times. Only when I was older, waiting tables, did I truly understand how wonderful they are.

Now I absolutely love them. With just butter, or even better, with butter and cheese. I was at a baby shower last weekend and someone made a cheese grits casserole. It was amazing. I could have easily eaten the entire dish. I asked for the recipe, and I am still waiting on it.
Not wanting to wait any longer, I decided to browse the web for a recipe. I checked out this recipe on Epicurious, and adapted it to my liking.
It didn't turn out like the one I had at the shower, but it was definitely delicious. Hopefully, soon I can get a hold of the other recipe so I can compare.

Cheesy Baked Grits Casserole
6 cups chicken stock
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups instant grits (white)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 lb Cheddar, (or any cheese you prefer, 2 cups divided, save 1/2 cup for top)
3 large eggs
1 cup 2% milk
2 Tbs. chopped parsley

Bring stock and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy pot. (4 quarts or larger)
Add grits in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring frequently to avoid sticking, until thick. It took about 10-15 minutes.
Add butter, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and cheese, stirring until butter and cheese are melted. Lightly beat eggs and milk in a small bowl, then stir into grits until combined.
Pour mixture into a 9x13 casserole, top with the remaining cheddar and bake for an hour. Remove from oven and top with parsley, serve immediately.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Split Pea Soup With Bacon, Potato, and Barley

Peas. I'm not a really big fan. Well, when they are alone that is. I am fine with them in salads, pastas etc. But on their own, not so much.

Split pea soup on the other hand, is a favorite of mine. There is something about this hearty soup that makes my heart warm. I thought it might just be because of the addition of the bacon. Because, in my opinion, bacon can really add to ANY meal. But, no. I think it is the consistency, and heartiness that makes a cold night seem warmer with this soup. (okay, and the bacon.) : )

The potato and barley in this recipe really gave it oomph too. This meal is perfect on its own, or add some bread for a real stick-to-your-ribs meal.
Oh, I tried to get the best pictures I could of this soup, but it just isn't pretty to begin with, sooo...
Split Pea Soup with Bacon, Potato, and Barley

1 lb. split peas rinsed and sorted
2 tsp. canola oil
1/2 cup onion diced
1/2 cup celery diced
1/2 cup carrots diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Tbs. parsley chopped
7 strips bacon cooked and crumbled (save 1 1/2 Tbs. bacon grease)
3/4 cups barley
2 medium potatoes diced
8 cups chicken stock (or water)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a large heavy stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add canola oil and bacon grease. When it is shimmering, add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until onion is wilted and almost carmelized. Add the peas, parsley and garlic. Saute for a few more minutes. Add stock or water and stir to combine. Cover pot and let simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occaisionally.

Uncover pot and stir. If you have an immersion blender, blend until creamy. If not, remove about 1/2 of the soup and put into a blender. Blend until creamy.
Add potatoes, barley and bacon and cook another 1/2-3/4 of an hour. Serve and Enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Brined Chicken Breasts in Foil Packets

Cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be a hassle. Especially when they turn out dry and stringy, and not worth the money you paid for them. I discovered that brining them first, and then steaming them in foil packets prevents the dryness, and results in delicious, juicy chicken.

Tonight I used 4 chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and of relatively equal size. If your chicken breasts are not the same size, you can either pound them and then trim, or trim them until they are. Use the excess trimmings to make a stock, or cook them to put in a salad.

After the chicken is nice and uniform, prepare the brine. I use 5 cups water, 3 Tbs. kosher salt, and 2 tsp. of sugar. Mix together, pour in a gallon sized ziplock, and add chicken. Put in the fridge and let osmosis go to work.

I brined mine for an hour, but you can certainly go longer. I feel this is sufficient enough for a lb. of chicken breasts, as they come out so tender and moist. Rinse the chicken under cold water to remove the brine and pat dry.

Season the chicken with your favorite seasonings; tonight I used fresh parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper,
then I seared them in my cast iron grill pan drizzled with olive oil (mostly because I like the marks, but also because it help to seal in the juices) for a couple minutes on each side.

When finished, onto the foil they went and then I topped with sliced garlic, a bay leaf, sealed the packet and put on a baking sheet. (here I brushed the foil with a little more olive oil)
I baked at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, removed the baking sheet and then poked holes in the foil and let them rest another 3-5 minutes.

They came out perfect, no dryness here!