Foodie Friday: Copy Cat Cheddar Bay Biscuits

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Fresh from the oven!

 

I fell off of the blogging bandwagon for a few months. Sometimes sitting down and coming up with something compelling to write about felt like a daunting task.  I am hoping after this mini hiatus I can re-enter the blogging world, refreshed and full of excellent writing.

We shall see.

I figured the best way to restart would be with a food related post because who doesn’t like food?! I knew these copy cat biscuits were perfect to share with you all because they were tasty AND easy.

I made these for dinner the other night when I decided, at the last minute of course, that we needed biscuits. I opened up my  “quick breadsPinterest board and Copy-Cat Cheddar Bay Biscuits caught my eye. My husband and I never go to Red Lobster but both of us went there as children and have very fond memories of those biscuits. I knew these would be a perfect addition to our evening meal.

First things first, I gathered my ingredients. (This simple step prevents many kitchen meltdowns.) I discovered I had two problems. I only had about a tablespoon of butter and I didn’t have any buttermilk. Who does? Does anyone just keep buttermilk on hand? The only time I ever have it is when I purchase it for a specific reason.

Thankfully we live in the digital age so I headed over to Google to see what substitutions I could use. I found this article on popsugar.com about different butter substitutes. I really liked this article because it gives you several options and explains in what capacity they would best work. The recipe called for melted butter so I went with the canola oil suggestion.

The first few substitutes I found for buttermilk called for things I didn’t have. However, over on joythebaker.com I found another great article explaining what buttermilk is and what it does in a recipe. She also offers several different substitution options which I really appreciated. I happened to have cream of tarter on hand (weird, I know) so I followed her instructions and created some “buttermilk.”

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This is what the dough looks like when you are done combining everything. It is very sticky!!

 

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits turned out great. You should check out the Damned Delicious blog for other quick and easy recipes. If I hadn’t had to concoct ingredient substitutions prep time would have been less than 10 minutes. This would also be a great recipe to make with kids or even have them try it out on their own (except for the oven part).  The biscuits were cheesy, flaky, buttery deliciousness. I didn’t even put the extra butter and seasonings on top that the recipe called for.

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Flaky layers- exactly what you want.

 

I did put in the whole quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper. We like it hot in this house. It did give them quite a kick so if you aren’t into spicy stuff try just a pinch or leave it out all together. If you still want to get that smokey, peppery taste without the heat try some chili powder instead. Also, these are drop biscuits so the dough is quite a bit “wetter” than the dough you use for traditional cut biscuits. Don’t try to roll this out or you will have a mess on your hands!!

We are headed out to Western Kansas in a few days. I am hoping this rain moves on by then and we can finally see some sunshine. Have a great weekend everyone!

-Christy

 

 

Foodie Friday: Simple Chicken and Rice

Quick, healthy, and delicious.

Quick, healthy, and delicious.

This time of year it seems like we are constantly “going”. Christmas shopping ,crafting, baking, card-sending; it all adds up to being extremely busy. Dinner is not another task I want to worry about.

Enter chicken and rice. Its the kind of meal you need this time of year. You throw it together and put in the oven. Oh, and it only uses ONE dish.

I am very familiar with the classic Campbell’s Chicken and Rice but I wanted to put my own spin on it. I also wanted something more on the natural and healthy side.

You can find the Pacific brand of condensed soups in almost any grocery store. I always purchase several whenever they are on sale. Same goes for their all natural chicken/beef/turkey stock. I found some turkey stock on sale the week before thanksgiving and loaded up. These are key ingredients that can be used in many things and using the all natural or organic means you aren’t consuming unnecessary preservatives or chemicals. They are great to have on hand at all times and they have a very long shelf life until opened.

Always gather your ingredients first.

Always gather your ingredients first.

Another way I like to stretch my dollar is switching out chicken breasts for chicken tights. I purchase all natural/free range/organic chicken whenever I can but those kind of chicken breasts can be very expensive.  That is where the thighs come in. They are considerably less expensive than the breast meat and when they go on sale I buy them in bulk. The best are the boneless and skinless thighs. They are much easier to eat, leaner and since they are dark meat you don’t need the skin to keep them from drying out.

Simple Chicken and Rice

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tights

1 cup long grain rice (I used brown basmati because that’s what I had on hand but any long grain rice will work.)

1 12 oz package Pacific Natural Foods Organic Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 cup stock low sodium (I would suggest turkey, chicken, or vegetable. If you are all out and don’t have time to hit the store water will work too!)

1 cup water

Salt

Pepper

Paprika (I like it so I used it and I used it a lot. If its not your thing then use less or just leave it out completely.)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Pour the rice, stock and water  into a large baking or casserole dish. Stir together. Sprinkle in seasonings.  Stir in half of the cream of mushroom soup.

On a different plate place the chicken thighs upside down and salt, pepper, and paprika. Place tights right side up onto of rice mixture. Season the top side with salt, pepper and paprika. Take the remaining soup and spread onto the tops of the chicken thighs.

Seasoning the thighs.

Seasoning the thighs.

Place in the oven. Let it bake for about 30 minutes and then check on the liquid levels. If it seems like the rice is close to soaking up all of the liquid add about 1/2 cup more water or stock and gently stir it in. It will take 50-60 minutes total to finish cooking.

This is what it should look like right before it goes in the oven.

This is what it should look like right before it goes in the oven.

Let the casserole sit for a few minutes to let all the liquids absorb before serving. This dish goes great with green beans or roasted brussel sprouts.

What is your favorite “go to” week night meal?

-Christy

 

 

 

Foodie Friday: Small Batch Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

Cookie!

Cookie!

Sometimes I hate making cookies. I love the finished product but it can take an entire afternoon to make a normal sized cookie recipe and inevitably the last few batches will end up being burnt because I have just lost interest and moved on to another project.

I wanted some cookies the other night but as there are only two of us in this house I did not want to use a recipe that makes two dozen cookies. I knew from hours of watching/listening to Alton Brown that baking is all about the chemical reactions and you can not simply cut all of the ingredients in half to get less cookies. I’ll admit I have done this before and sometimes they turn out but sometimes they don’t. I decided to actually take the time to experiment and create an actual small batch recipe.

These cookies are very soft and melt in your mouth. They pair great with coffee and tea. This recipe makes about 12 cookies but of course it depends how big or small you choose to make them. They are great for when you are hankering for a cookie but don’t want to spend all night making them and they would also be great if you need a baked gift for a friend of neighbor.

You can leave the oats and walnuts out or use one and not the other or use chocolate chips; you can probably stick about anything in these and it would be good.

Small Batch Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp grade B maple syrup

1 egg lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup rolled old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter, brown sugar and maple syrup together.

Add the egg, vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until combined.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

With the mixer set on low, slowly add the flour no more than approximately 1/2 cup at a time. Increase speed after each addition. Make sure to stop occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Once all of the flour has been incorporated, stir in the oats and walnuts BY HAND. Dough will be pretty stiff at this point, especially if you are baking in  a freezing cold kitchen as I do.

Scoop out even sized balls of dough and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Really you can make them whatever size you wish. Remember the smaller they are the quicker they will cook. I made mine about 2 inches in diameter. I baked them for 8-10 minutes.

These are the kind of cookies you want to take out right before they are completely done. This will make them soft. However, even if they cook too long they are still great for dunking in coffee or hot cocoa.

Hope you enjoy this recipe! Do you have any recipes that makes smaller batches of cookies? Send them to me so I can give them a whirl.

-Christy

 

Foodie Friday: Waste Not, Want Not

Around 220 million tonnes of food is wasted on an annual basis. On a global level it seems ridiculous that there are people starving and other people throwing food away. On a personal level and as the CFO of this household, it makes me wonder how much money we spend on food that does not even get eaten.

Thanksgiving is a prime culprit. Often there is way more food than needed and inevitably after a few days of eating leftovers, it is thrown away.

This year we were many miles away from any friends or family to spend the holiday with but we still wanted the traditional thanksgiving meal.  I wanted to make sure, however, that we did not end up with more food than two people could possible eat in a few days.

It was fairly easy to scale down most recipes and I got a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. (We both missed the dark meat though.) The only issue we ran into was the pumpkin pie.  I made the crust from scratch, scaled to make just one crust, and my husband used the filling recipe from Epicurious. Somehow, after everything was put together, we had about two cups of filling left.

As I mentioned before I hate to waste, so I started thinking what could I do with this? It had raw eggs in it so I couldn’t hold on to it forever so after about 15 minutes of staring at it I decided to make it into pumpkin bread.

I wanted something quick and easy since I was already in the middle of making Thanksgiving dinner. Also I was keeping in mind the fact that my husband had to work the next day and I like to have “eat on the go” items for him to take for breakfast.

Here is what I did. I also think this would have made good cookies; the soft and pillow-y kind. Might need to add more flour for that.

Leftover Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

1 1/2-2 cups pumpkin pie mix (this is using the mix from the Epicurious recipe! I can not guarantee how it will work with a different filling.)

1 1/4 -2 cups flour (I used a mix of whole wheat pastry four and all purpose)

1/4 cup oil

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350. Slowly mix in all ingredients one at a time. Once everything is incorporated stop mixing. Do not over mix. Fold in chopped nuts. Pour mixture into a greased pan. (Muffin tin, bread pan, cake pan; almost anything will work.) Bake for 40 mins or until a toothpick can be inserted and pulled out clean.

Ready to go into the oven. I used a round tin because that's what I had!

Ready to go into the oven. I used a round tin because that’s what I had!

 

This isn’t a real exact recipe because it all depends on what you have on hand. If you have made muffins or quick breads before you know what the batter should look like. If not all I can say is if it looks like cookie dough you have added too much flour. If it is thin or “soupy” you need more flour. Instead of walnuts you could add in other nuts or chocolate chips; whatever you would like. Experiment!

This is what the mixture should look like before baking.

This is what the mixture should look like before baking.

Somehow I managed to forget to take a picture of the finished product (probably because we were too busy eating other delicious food!) but trust me it turned out golden brown and moist; just like pumpkin bread should be.

Do you have an recipes you use to eliminate food waste? I would love to hear about them!

-Christy

Foodie Friday: Cranberry Citrus Muffins

CRANBERRY CITRUS MUFFINS

CRANBERRY CITRUS MUFFINS

The combination of cranberry and orange is timeless. The sweetness of the orange is the perfect balance to the tartness of the cranberry. I love cranberry orange bread, but I wanted something a little different. Also, muffins are much quicker in the morning than bread, so I came up with this recipe.

These muffins would be perfect for Christmas morning. The cranberries are a Christmas-like red and the citrus will help you wake up. These are perfect for making ahead of time and storing in a Ziploc bag. If you are making them more than a few days ahead you probably should freeze them to help maintain freshness.

You can use this recipe with no changes if you would rather have bread. You will probably have to bake it longer. Also, these are fairly tart muffins. If you don’t think you will like that you can decrease the amount of cranberries, cut them in half or increase the sugar to 1 full cup.

Cranberry Citrus Muffins

Yield: Approximately 12 standard size muffins

Wet Ingredients:

3 tbsp unsalted organic butter *Melted and cooled.

1 cup citrus juice. *I used 4 medium oranges and 1 small lemon. Use whatever mix you would like. Strain to remove seeds and pulp. If you are in a hurry you can purchase juice; just make sure its 100% juice no additives.

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 egg *Beat lightly before adding to other ingredients.

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 tsp fine salt *If all you have is regular salt use even less. Test taste the batter if necessary.

Large pinch of ground cloves

8 oz pkg organic fresh cranberries.  * If using frozen, thaw and rinse.

Heat oven to 350. Grease muffins tins or loaf pan. Make sure to get a good coating on there.

Combine all dry ingredients except the cranberries into a large mixing bowl. Use a whisk to blend everything together.

In a smaller bowl combine all wet ingredients. Use a whisk or a spoon to combine.

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Make sure to stir while doing this. I found a spatula works great for this part. Blend everything together while making sure you do not over mix. Once the dry ingredients look wet its time to stop.

When it looks like this stop! Over stirring creates tough muffins.

When it looks like this stop! Over stirring creates tough muffins.

Fold in 1/2 of the cranberries. (You can use the other half for your next batch!)

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The cranberries are such a pretty addition.

 

Spoon batter into prepared  tins. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

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What do you all like to bake around Christmas time? I’d love to hear what your traditions are.

-Christy

 

Foodie Friday: Curried Hamburger Gravy

Curried Hamburger Gravy

Curried Hamburger Gravy

One of my favorite things to do as a child was to sit on our kitchen stool and watch as my mother made dinner. I asked all sorts of why and how questions knowing that this was something I wanted to figure out. Then at holiday meals I would watch my grandmother, my mom and my aunt gracefully and deftly move around the kitchen; each knowing what needed to be done and (even more importantly) how to do it. The kitchen held a fascination to it. I wanted to be part of what I saw.

Now, many years later, I consider myself a pretty decent cook. I tend to makes messes, so I am missing a bit of that grace, but I figure as long as the food is good a mess is a small price to pay! I love cooking just as much as about anything, but my favorite things to cook are “homey” dishes; especially those from my mother’s recipe box. When I make certain dishes I am transported back to my childhood when I sat and watched her cook.

This is one of those dishes. She made it countless times and it was a favorite of the entire family. It was quick and simple and inexpensive- all good things when she had been teaching all day.  Even now when I smell curry I think of this dish, not Indian food.

I have listed the recipe first, then there are pictures below for clarification of specific steps.

CURRIED HAMBURGER GRAVY

Ingredients:

1lb Ground Beef (80/20)

3-4 Tbsp Flour

2 cups Milk (anything but skim)

1-2 Tbsp Curry Powder

Salt

Pepper

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat brown the hamburger. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break the hamburger apart. Add a light pinch of salt, pepper and curry powder to the ground beef. This is to give the beef just a hint of flavor so you don’t need much. Make sure to taste as you work through this recipe.

Turn the heat to low and remove the ground beef from the pan onto a paper-towel lined plate. Make sure to drain the fat as you remove it by pressing it against the side of the pan. If there are a few crumbs left, that’s ok.

Add your flour slowly wisking as you go. The fat should soak up the flour. Keep wisking until the flour has been completely incorporated. Add the milk and increase the temperature to medium.

Stir the sauce often. A few bubbles is ok, but do not let it boil. When the sauce coats the back of the spoon it is done.

Season the sauce with the salt, pepper, and curry powder. Some curry powder is stronger than others and it is a very strong flavor, so tasting as you add is very important! I used 1.5 tbsp., but I like a strong curry flavor.

Fold the drained meat back into the sauce. Serve over rice, toast, or a baked potato.

Fat and Flour

Fat and Flour Incorporated.

Finished Sauce

Finished Sauce (Sorry its a bit blurry)