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

 

 

Weekly Roundup: Life Gets in the Way of the Blog

Sometimes I feel like I don’t really “get going” until the middle of the week. This was one of those weeks. I haven’t done or seen anything that is “blog worthly” and I don’t have the time to write up the blog ideas I have in my notebook. A good, informative blog post easily takes 4-5 hours from start to finish.  So instead of just being strangely silent or publishing something mediocre I decided to give you all a peek at what has been keeping me so busy.

My biggest project/pain-in-the-butt is this baby quilt. Like any good crafter I waited till the last minute to begin working on it. Also, this is the first quilt I have ever made. I always seem to give myself a challenge when I have a deadline. (I do NOT recommend this.) I finally have all the squares cut out but I am fully aware that sewing them together isn’t going to be a quick project either. Wish me luck.

Hundreds of squares. Not sure if I will ever do this again.

Hundreds of squares. Not sure if I will ever do this again.

Keeping in the world of ‘craft’ I have three yarn-based projects keeping me busy. The teal one is an easy project I made up to use up that yarn and I need some new items for my Etsy shop.  I am almost done with it. The red and grey cowl is a pattern I am working on. I have several patterns that are waiting in the wings to get published. The brown is a Valentines gift. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift but that didn’t happen. Some people may wonder why I have so many projects going on at once but if you are at all crafty you probably understand me completely.

 

Thank God these are portable projects.

Thank God these are portable projects.

I spent most of yesterday baking or cleaning up from baking. My husband has a tendency to skip breakfast unless there is something quick to grab as he is going out the door. Of course there are store-bought granola bars but we both wanted something homemade to cut down on the “unknown ingredients factor” and cost.

The first recipe I decided to try was Healthy Avocado Chocolate Cookies. Basically you are using the avocado as a substitute for butter. Even though it sounds weird I could see how, in theory, that makes sense. I followed the recipe exactly except I used honey instead of coconut sugar; I didn’t have any coconut sugar and honey was the recommended substitution. Also I used regular chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate chunks.

My first problem with these was my own fault; my avocado was too ripe so my batter was too thin. I knew this wouldn’t work for cookies so I threw in a hand full of all purpose flour so the batter would have the right amount of stiffness. Also, when I tasted the batter I could totally taste avocado. Kinda grossed me out.

They LOOK good.

They LOOK good.

Fortunately my husband really liked the finished product. To me they just aren’t sweet enough. But I kind of have an aversion to “healthy” baked goods. My feeling is if you want a cookie have a COOKIE. Just don’t have ten. I find healthier versions to be much less satisfying so then I want to eat more.

My second baking adventure turned out much better. Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies sounded like it might make us both happy.

Batter ready to go on the cookie sheets.

Batter ready to go on the cookie sheets.

This recipe was easy to follow and turned out great. I used a half cup of brown sugar instead of the 2/3 cup the recipe calls for but otherwise followed all the instructions. Once again my batter seemed a little thin but once I folded in the oats and chocolate chips it seemed to have the right consistency. I would make these again.

The finished product.

The finished product.

I think we are going to buck tradition this year and go out the night before Valentine’s day instead of Saturday night. Every place that is worth going to is either already booked up or will have hour long waits. I am not sure where we will go tomorrow night – my husband is supposed to have it all figured out. Saturday we are going to have a little celebration at home; grill some brats, get some good craft beer, and watch Netflix. Sometimes simple is best.

Have a great Valentine’s Day!

-Christy

Foodie Friday: Charred Wings & Homemade Bread

You Gotta Try:

We had a little snow storm move through the area a few days ago so naturally we bundled up and head out looking for food and beer. Thank goodness for four wheel drive. And for small storms that move through quickly.

In Kansas City the northern area is referred to as “the northland”. Very inventive I know. That area is not really known for local places; there are a lot of chains and that is just not what we were in the mood for.

I did a quick search on my Yelp app and came across Nick & Nino’s Pub.  The reviews were pretty good but even better were the pictures. There were also tantalizing descriptions of their wings. I love good wings. If I come across a place that is supposed to have great wings I have to try them.

The place itself was nice and spacious with comfortable booths and tables. Of course I knew exactly what I wanted to order and I was not disappointed. First of all the wings are HUGE. It makes me wonder what kind of over-sized chicken these things come from. Their best feature, however, was the char. Each wing had deep char marks on it and it really gave them a wonderful, rustic flavor. I was surprised that something so simple could make such a difference in flavor.

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Charred Wings! A revelation.

 

I washed those wings down with a few glasses of Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes Brewery. I could write an entire blog post about how much I love that hoppy, citrusy beer. It pairs with wings quite well. Overall we had a great experience there and I would tell anyone who is in that area (it is very close to KCI) to check it out.

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed.

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed.

Recipes I Love:

Yesterday I decided to make some bread. I had been thinking about it for awhile but bread making really intimidates me. I have done it before and had wonderful results. However, I have also had disasters and wasted an entire afternoon and expensive ingredients on something that was rock hard and ended up in the trash.

I decided to pick a recipe from my Pinterest board for Yeast Bread. I looked at each one and decided on the recipe that had the clearest and most concise instructions. Also, I needed a simple list ingredients because I had no way to make a trip to the store.

This recipe is amazing. Everything went together easily and made me feel like I had been making bread for years. The best part was the bread itself. It came out perfectly. It had great texture, perfect crumb, and toasted beautifully. I am using past tense because that bread didn’t stick around long. I will make more soon!

I made the slashes before the final 30 minutes of rising. I brushed some olive oil on top right before I put it in the oven. You could do the same with melted butter

I made the slashes before the final 30 minutes of rising. I brushed some olive oil on top right before I put it in the oven. You could do the same with melted butter

You can try it find the recipe here. I really encourage you to make your own bread. Have you ever read the label on a loaf of bread? All sorts of weird stuff listed there. Yes, you can buy a loaf of bread for $2 but homemade is so much better. You control what is in it and the taste is beyond compare. It is worth the extra effort.

Delicious, lovely bread.

Delicious, lovely bread.

I am looking forward to tomorrow; we are planning on hitting up an Irish pub with some friends. Irish music and craft beer are an excellent combination. Hope you have a great weekend too!

-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

Introducing Foodie Fridays & Cookie Mix Review

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! My husband luckily had the day off and we spent it watching the Macy’s parade and cooking up a storm. Just for us. It was kind of nice to have a low-key holiday.

With that delicious meal still on my mind I am excited to share with you a new feature on my blog, Foodie Fridays.

I believe the word “foodie” has gotten a bad rap. When I say I am a “foodie” I do not mean that I am a snob about food; I mean I like FOOD. Gourmet food, fast food, food products, tv shows about food, cooking, baking, shopping for food….you get the idea.

In this new segment I will share with you great places to eat, must try edibles, recipes; basically anything that crosses my mind that has to do with food.

Today I will be sharing with you a chocolate chip cookie mix I tried. I love to bake so normally I stay away from mixes. However, this one caught my eye. It’s from Madhava, a company that started out by making all natural organic sweeteners such as agave nectar and coconut sugar. This particular mix is made with their sweeteners as well as organic ancient grain flours.

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I adore baked goods. My husband, who is into more “natural” foods, is always trying to reign me in. I figured this would be the meeting of our two mindsets. Ancient grains for him, chocolate in cookie form for me.

I found the instructions to “mix the cookie mix with softened butter using a fork” surprising. Almost every butter based cookie recipe will tell you to cream the butter and sugar. Also, from my constant viewing of the Food Network, I know the importance of that step. Since the sugar was already in the mix I knew I would have to separate the chips from the other dry ingredients.

Since there was no sifter around (we are using someone else’s kitchen) I used a small grater to separate the ingredients. Meanwhile, I creamed softened butter with TWO eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla.

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Sifting with a grater….use what you got!

 

The mix already contains vanilla according to the ingredients list but adding a fresh ingredient is always a great away to brighten up any mix and make it taste more homemade.  Also, I added an additional egg because I wanted the cookies to be on the soft and fluffy side, not flat and crispy.

After all of my liquids were incorporated I began to slowly add in the flour mixture making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Then I folded in the chocolate chips.

I like the idea of adding oats as suggested on the box, but the batter already seemed pretty thick. So instead I scooped out about a tablespoon sized ball of dough and rolled it in old-fashioned oats.

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I placed these on an ungreased cookie sheet at 325. They took about 8-10 minutes to bake. My yield was about 18 cookies. Keep in mind, like many other people, I had to try some dough so if you can resist that you may be able to have a higher yield.

The cookies were good but not like the Tollhouse ones that I usually make. I feel that is to be expected since ancient grains are slightly heavier than the flour we are used to nowadays. Also, the chocolate chips are dark chocolate which was good but also gives it a different taste. I would have preferred semi-sweet and regular size; these were minis.

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Overall I would recommend this mix. Sometimes you just don’t feel like messing with all of the ingredients it takes to make cookies and the ingredients in this mix are probably better for you anyway.  Also, these made a nice sized batch so you weren’t stuck with bunch of leftovers. I found this mix at Healthy Market in Burlington. You can probably find it at your nearest natural foods market or you can order it online. However, shopping local is best!

Happy Baking!

-Christy