Monday, February 23, 2009

Apple, Cranberry, and Pecan Topping for Pancakes

Semifirm apples such as Fuji, Gala, or Braeburn are preferred for this topping. Avoid very tart types like Granny Smith and soft varieties like McIntosh.

3-1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3 sweet apples (medium), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups) (see note above)
Pinch salt

1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup pecans , toasted and chopped coarse

Melt 1-1/2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in cider and cranberries; cook until liquid has almost evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in maple syrup and cook until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and remaining butter; whisk until sauce is smooth. Serve with toasted nuts.

Multigrain Pancakes

Familia-brand no-sugar-added muesli is the best choice for this recipe. If you can't find Familia, look for Alpen or any no-sugar-added muesli. (If you can't find muesli without sugar, muesli with sugar added will work; reduce the brown sugar in the recipe to 1 tablespoon.) Mix the batter first and then heat the pan. Letting the batter sit while the pan heats will give the dry ingredients time to absorb the wet ingredients, otherwise the batter will be runny. Unless you have a pastry brush with heatproof bristles, a paper towel is the best means of coating the pan surface with oil. Pancakes will hold for 20 minutes when placed on a greased rack set on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven. Serve with maple syrup or Apple, Cranberry, and Pecan Topping.


4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups (16 ounces) whole milk
1-1/4 cups no-sugar-added muesli (6 ounces), plus an additional 3 tablespoons
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (2 3/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil


1. Whisk lemon juice and milk together in medium bowl or 4-cup measuring cup; set aside to thicken while preparing other ingredients.
2. Process 1-1/4 cups muesli in food processor until finely ground, 2 to 2-1/2 minutes; transfer to large bowl. Add remaining 3 tablespoons unground muesli, flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to combine.
3. Whisk eggs, melted butter, and vanilla into milk until combined. Make well in center of dry ingredients in bowl; pour in milk mixture and whisk very gently until just combined (few streaks of flour and lumps should remain). Do not overmix. Allow batter to sit while pan heats.
4. Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon oil and brush to coat skillet bottom evenly. Following instructions below, add 1 tablespoon batter to gauge temperature of pan. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto 3 spots in skillet, using bottom of ladle to spread batter smooth if necessary. Cook pancakes until small bubbles begin to appear evenly over surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Using thin, wide spatula, flip pancakes and cook until golden brown on second side, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes longer. Serve immediately. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing surface of pan lightly with oil between batches and adjusting heat if necessary.

Peanut Butter Syrup

For a really yummy pancake or waffle topping, mix together and heat in a small saucepan (or microwave) equal amounts of peanut butter (either creamy or crunchy) and maple syrup. We enjoyed this topping on bacon-buttermilk waffles. It would be good on many different types of pancakes as well.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes

Instead of the blackberry syrup, I used raspberry syrup that I canned. I'm sure the blackberry syrup would be great, though.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed to thin
1/2 cup creamy (or crunchy) peanut butter, melted
2 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons butter
Blackberry Syrup, recipe follows


Preheat a griddle. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Slowly mix in egg, milk, peanut butter and oil until combined. Add a little extra milk if batter feels too thick. Let mixture sit 5 minutes. Melt 1 tablespoon butter on griddle and move around to coat entire griddle. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake on griddle to form 5-inch pancakes. The batter spreads as it cooks. Fill griddle without crowding pancakes. Flip when air pockets start to pop on the top and a quick peak on the underside reveals a golden pancake. Repeat with remaining butter and batter. Serve pancakes with Blackberry Syrup.

Blackberry Syrup:

2 pints fresh blackberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lemon, zested

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to break up blackberries as they cook. Strain syrup to remove seeds and serve warm.
Yield: 1 cup

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This recipe is from Cook's Country. It is one of our favorite soup recipes. The garnishes are great--don't skip the fried potato skins! If you prefer, replace the thyme sprig with 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme. Reserving some of the potatoes in step 3 results in a chunkier soup. For a smooth soup, puree all the potatoes. Serves 8

8 ounces bacon , chopped
3 pounds russet potatoes , scrubbed
1 large onion , chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese , plus additional for garnish
1 cup sour cream , plus additional for garnish
ground black pepper
3 scallions , sliced thin

1. Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. While bacon is cooking, use vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of potato peel; reserve peels. Cut peeled potatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to plate lined with paper towels. Add reserved potato skins to bacon fat in pot and cook until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer potato skins to plate with bacon.

2. Add onion to fat remaining in pot and cook over medium heat until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and flour and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth and cream, stir in thyme and potatoes, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes.

3. Discard thyme and transfer 2 cups cooked potatoes to bowl. Puree remaining soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return to pot and warm over medium-high heat. Off heat, stir in cheese until melted, then whisk in sour cream. Return reserved potatoes to pot and season soup with pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, garnishing with bacon, fried potato skins, scallions, cheese, and sour cream.
Reheating Leftovers: To reheat leftover portions of our Loaded Baked Potato Soup, gently warm the soup in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming. Do not let the soup boil, which will cause the sour cream to separate.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bacon and Peanut Butter Muffins

I thought this combination sounded so strange that I had to try it. I now love the combination of bacon and peanut butter! The introduction to the recipe states, "This muffin isn't sweet; it's much more of a grab and heat for breakfast food. It would even make sense next to a bowl or mug of tomato soup for lunch."

2-1/2 cups (10-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) milk (whole milk preferred)
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) bacon fat, melted
2 tablespons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted
6 to 7 strips of cooked bacon, chopped
1/4 cup (2 3/8 ounces) peanut butter, chunky or smooth, your choice

Lightly grease the wells of a muffin tin (or spray with nonstick baking spray); preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted bacon fat, and butter; stir into the dry ingredients until evenly moistened. Fold in the chopped bacon. Scoop 3 tablespoons of the batter into each well of the prepared muffin tin. Place a rounded teaspoon of peanut butter in the center of each pool of dough. Divide the remaining batter evenly over the peanut butter, encasing it completely.

Bake the muffins for 23 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on the top (check them early--they might be done by 18 minutes). Remove from the oven and place on a rack for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and place on the rack to finish cooling, or serve warm.

Yield: 12 muffins.

Fruit and Nut Baked Oatmeal

This is a really yummy way to serve oatmeal. Our whole family loves it. You can vary the dried fruits--just use 1 cup total of dried fruit. I've added chopped dried mango with good results. I've also made a variation with 1 cup of dried tart cherries and sprinkled slivered almonds on instead of the other nuts. Then we served it hot with chocolate chips sprinkled on top (which melted and became delightful gooey) and with some whipped cream. Talk about a filling, indulgent breakfast!

1-3/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup regular rolled oats
1/3 cup snipped dried apricots
1/3 cup dried tart cherries
1/3 cup golden raisins
4 tablespoons packed brown sugar (divided into 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsley chopped walnuts or pecans

In a medium saucepan bring 1-3/4 cups milk and butter to boiling. Slowly stir in oats. Stir in apricots, cherries, raisins, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Pour into a lightly greased 1-1/2-quart casserole or 8-inch square pan.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and nuts. Bake about 5 minutes more or until bubbly. Cool slightly. If desired, serve with additional milk (or ice cream, or whipped cream, or chocolate chips--we also like it just plain).

Makes 4 main-dish servings.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies

This cookie recipe is from Martha Stewart's Living Magazine, December 2008 on the last page of the magazine. I bought the magazine because of it, and saw on the "mykitchencafe" blog that she had tried it. I thought it would be good for a Valentine's gift for our visiting and home teaching beats. I doubled the recipe, as my Kitchenaid will not make that small amount of dough. I "poured" it onto a floured surface, cut it into fourths, and weighed all pieces and got them all to weigh the same. Then I refrigerated the dough in disks as directed. I used a 2 1/4" cookie cutter with scalloped edges. I got over 4 dozen cookies from a single recipe (doubled recipe made 8 1/2 dozen.) The cookies do not spread, therefore I put 2 dozen on each cookie sheet. I did freeze them. The last cookies kept the scalloped shape easier than the first batch. You do need parchment paper for these and I recycled by turning the parchment over and used the back side for the coated cookies. I say this recipe can "win friends and influence people!"

Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
8 large candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed (enough for the doubled batch!)
2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I needed 4 pounds for the doubled batch!)

1. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Whisk together. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigeratae until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).

2. Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out circles, and place 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk.

3. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until dry to the touch. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks, and let cool. (Undecorated cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.)

4. Sift crushed candy, and separate larger pieces from dust, reserving both. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water. Remove from heat. Dunk cookies into melted chocolate (top side down first). Using a fork, turn to coat, let excess drip off, and gently scrape bottom against edge of bowl. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of either candy pieces or dust on top (I did both). Repeat. Refrigerate until set, up to 3 hours (I left out overnight). Decorated cookies are best served the same day.

Additional Notes: I did not freeze the dough until firm before cutting out my circles. That is the only step I did not do. I did not turn on the oven until I was ready to bake the cookies. Preheating when they say would use up a lot of electricity because you do have to chill the dough for an hour!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pan Eclairs

In honor of Devyn leaving on his mission tomorrow, I am posting his favorite dessert. Kendra introduced us to this fabulously easy dessert last weekend, and it was a big hit with my kids! The recipe below is a slight variation from Kendra's (it's in a 9x13 pan instead of a jelly-roll pan, and it has 2 layers of pudding and 3 layers of graham crackers rather than 1 layer of pudding and 2 layers of graham crackers). I also prefer the Ganache topping rather than the frosting. So, in all actuality, considering all the changes, I'm not really sure this posted recipe is really Devyn's favorite!

Pan Eclairs
2 individual packages graham crackers
2 (3 ounce) packages instant French vanilla pudding mix (or regular vanilla, or cheesecake for another variation)
3 cups milk
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (16 ounce) package prepared chocolate frosting or Chocolate Ganache

Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan with graham crackers. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and milk. Stir well. Stir in whipped topping to pudding mixture. Spread half of pudding mixture over graham cracker layer. Top with another layer of graham crackers and the remaining pudding. Top all with a final layer of graham crackers. Let set up for 1 hour in refrigerator. Microwave frosting for 15 seconds. Frost layered dessert with chocolate frosting or Chocolate Ganache (I think the ganache is better because it's still chocolatey, but not as much sweetness as the frosting). Refrigerate until serving.

Chocolate Ganache
Taste of Home Test Kitchen
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a heavy saucepan (or in the microwave), melt chocolate chips with cream over low heat. Remove from the heat. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until slightly cooled.
Pour over dessert, spreading ganache with a spatula if necessary to evenly coat, working quickly before it thickens. Chill until set.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sausage Sandwich Squares

When we were at Kendra's I was looking through her 2000 Taste of Home Annual Recipes and found this recipe. I came home and tried it. It was really good. It is a little like calzones, but you bake a whole baking sheet at once. It had too much cheese in it for us, so I would decrease the cheese a bit. It would also taste good with pizza sauce spread on the bottom layer with the rest of the fillings on top. It would be good with chopped ham, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, or even a mixture of meats. Next time I would not mix the herbs in with the egg wash. I would brush on the egg wash and sprinkle the herbs over the top. You do need a 15x10x1 inch pan for this. I bought a cheap one out at Alco's that was nonstick. It worked great!

Sausage Sandwich Squares
2000 Taste of Home Annual Recipes
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached flour
1 pound Italian Sausage
1 medium sweet red pepper, diced (mine were cut into 1/4 inch pieces and frozen)
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 large onion, minced
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Make the dough. While the dough is rising, cook the Italian sausage, remove from pan and rinse to remove extra fat. Saute the peppers and onion in the drippings until tender. Make the egg wash by beating the egg and water together and adding the garlic powder. In another bowl mix the herbs. To prepare sandwich, divide the dough in half and roll one half to fit a 15x10x1" greased baking sheet. (I had Dad help me with the dough because it kept stretching as I was trying to lift it.) Spread the sausage evenly over the crust. Top with the peppers and onions. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Roll out the rest of the dough and place on top and seal the edges. Brush the egg wash over the dough and sprinkle with the herbs. Cut slits in the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Cut into squares. YIELD: 12 to 15 servings

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Classic Chocolate Bundt Cake

We had an amazing meal on Sunday, according to my family: roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli, Lion House rolls, orange Jell-O with mandarin oranges, and an incredibly delicious dessert called Classic Chocolate Bundt Cake. After the cake was in the oven for a few minutes, I realized I forgot to fold in the chocolate chips. The cake was moist, chocolately (even without the chips), and delicious. Click here to see a beautiful picture of the cake and review the recipe (you only need to make half of the frosting; it will be plenty, I promise!)