Sugar Crusted Popovers

If you’re like me you’re always looking for something a little different when it comes to cooking.  I will be the first to admit I’m not a huge bread fan, but when I do make bread, biscuits, or rolls, I like to go outside of the box and look for unique.  I started playing with popovers  changing the texture and taste and of course experimenting on my family 🙂

Popovers are basically dinner roles that “POP OVER” the baking pan. The batter will be very thin, almost liquid like, but I promise you this recipe will work out perfectly.  After several batches, I decided it needed a touch of sugar in the batter for my taste.  Keep in mind, this recipe is PERFECT as a sweet OR savory bread.  There are two important tips to creating perfect popovers:  First,  use a POPOVER pan to create this delicious treat. The pan is high on the sides, deep, and allows air to flow properly so the bread will rise. You can use a muffin tin, but you may not experience the same height.

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 Second PRE-HEAT the popover tin, BEFORE you fill the tins with the batter. This will ensure a beautifully tall popover!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs, warmed in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes before cracking
  • 1 ½ C. milk (skim, low-fat, or full-fat), lukewarm
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ C. all purpose flour
  • Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Position a rack on a lower shelf. The top of the fully risen popovers should be about midway up the oven.
  2.  Grease the pan thoroughly, covering the area between the cups as well as the cups themselves. Make sure the oven is up to temperature before you begin to make the popover batter.
  3. Place the tin in the oven to get it warm.
  4.  Use an immersion blender OR use a blender to beat together the eggs, milk, sugar and salt until well combined, with no streaks of yolk showing.
  5.  Add the flour all at once, and beat until frothy; there shouldn’t be any large lumps in the batter, but smaller lumps are OK.
  6.  Stir in the melted butter, combining quickly.

  7. Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling them to  3/4 full.

  8.  Make absolutely certain your oven is at 450°F. Place the pan on a lower shelf of the oven .

  9. Bake the popovers for 20 minutes without opening the oven door. Reduce the heat to 350°F (again without opening the door), and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re a deep, golden brown. If the popovers seem to be browning too quickly, position an oven rack at the very top of the oven, and put a cookie sheet on it, to shield the popovers’ tops from direct heat.

  10. If you plan on serving the popovers immediately, remove them from the oven, and stick the tip of a knife into the top of each, to release steam and help prevent soggy rolls.

  11.  If you want the popovers to hold their shape longer without deflating and settling quite as much, bake them for an additional 5 minutes (for a total of 40 minutes) IF you can do so without them becoming too dark. This will make them a bit sturdier, and able to hold their “popped” shape a bit longer.

  12. Mix the extra 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
  13. Toss each popover in the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat and serve.
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Traditional Kimchi

As an Army brat, I grew up with an extremely diverse group of friends and a lot of exposure to international cuisine.  My love of Korean food stems from my cousin and her husband who is biracial and part Korean. So one day they decided to take us out to dinner to a Korean grocery store that was also a restaurant (insert side glare). Needless to say, I was SCARED! That was the day I fell in LOVE! From bim bim bap(vegetables over rice with a sunny side up eggs)  to bulgogi (marinaded beef or pork), I love it all. I usually gather my goodies from our local Asian market. I’m there so much, I should know how to speak the language, but alas I’m stuck with pointing and googling titles 🙂

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My natural progression was to try my hand at making Kimchi and it was much easier than I thought! Kimchi is fermented vegetables with a variety of seasons. I will say there are many recipes for kimchi, but I prefer to make mine with more of a sauce versus a slurry. The slurry mixture makes the mixture a bit more thick, I prefer the sauce because I like to use my kimchi several different ways. It can be used as a side dish, stirred into fried rice, or added to make a kimchi pancake(kimchijeon)! I know trying new foods is a bit scary, but step out of the box with me and give it a try.

Let’s get started!

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Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 8-10 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 grated daikon radish*
  • 1 C carrots, julienned
  • 1 C water
  • ¼ C salted shrimp*
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups Korean Red Pepper Powder
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 grated asian pear*
  • ¼ C. salt
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3-4 canning jars

*These items can be found in your local Asian market; however, I have found the asian pear and daikon radish in local markets.

Directions:

  1. Cut the napa cabbage and quarter it length wise keeping the base in tact.
  2. Make sure the leaves are still connected at the base, gently separate the leaves and sprinkle salt between each section placing more salt close to the base than the tip of the leaf.
  3. Place the quartered napa cabbage in a container that’s deep enough to cover the cabbage with water.
  4. Place a heavy object on top of the cabbage and let the cabbage sit for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.
  5. Next combine all of the sauce ingredients in very large bowl.
  6. Once the cabbage is brined, rinse, drain, and chop the cabbage.
  7. Toss the cabbage with the sauce mixture until coated.
  8. Place the mixture into the  fermenting vessels and cover with lid.
  9. Make sure not to over pack the jars, leaving at least 1″ of space at the top. If you pack your jar too full you will have a very stinky kitchen.
  10. Let the jars sit on the counter top for at least a day and then place into the refrigerator.
  11. Use the kimchi within 2 weeks. After that you will want to discard it because it will get too strong for use.

Juicy Bacon Burger

I love sports, especially football, so it is with great sadness that I acknowledge the end of football season with this Sunday’s exhibition of the Super Bowl. In honor of the final match (although it would be better if GREENBAY were playing)  I figure why not go out with a BANG and introduce you to the Juicy Bacon Burger!  I don’t know if you know this Super Bowl “factoid”, but all foods consumed on Super Bowl Sunday are CALORIE FREE 🙂 with that being said here is a bit of  heaven on a bun, kinda…

I don’t always eat burgers, but when I do it’s the Juicy Bacon Burger!  This burger is one of the juiciest, most decadent hamburgers I’ve ever eaten or made in my life. How can any sandwich with egg, cheese, and bacon be wrong? To help you get to know me better, I’m not a fan of sandwiches or hamburgers so to endorse this hamburger is a BIG DEAL. This recipe does come with a warning: you will need several napkins and a nice cold beer to enjoy the ultimate burger experience! photo-001

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz ground Short Ribs*
  • 8 oz ground Sirloin*
  • 8 oz ground Chuck*
  • 8 slices smoked bacon, thick cut
  • 4 slices Cheddar cheese
  • 4 large eggs, fried
  • ½ c Red Onions, pickled
  • 4 dill pickles, thin sliced
  • 4 English muffins, split
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • spicy ketchup (¼ c ketchup combined with ¼ c sriracha, add cayenne pepper to taste)

*If you don’t own a Kitchen Aide mixer with the meat grinding attachment, have your grocery store butcher grind the meats for you.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the stovetop grill pan and cook the bacon on medium-high until brown and crispy. Drain the bacon on paper towels while reserving the fat of the bacon in the pan and return it to the stovetop.
  2. Combine the ground meats in a bowl and season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Shape into patties that are a bit larger than the English muffins.  Place the burgers in the hot skillet containing the bacon fat and  cook the burgers 3 minutes on each side for doneness that is  medium rare. Cook an additional 2 minutes on each side for a well done burger.
  3. Place the sliced cheddar cheese on top of the flipped burger during the final minutes of cooking.  While the burgers are resting (the resting step is VERY important because this is what makes the burgers JUICY), lightly grill the English muffins for 1 minute. Pan fry each egg to your level of doneness (I prefer the yolk to run to add to the “juiciness”).
  4. Rest a patty on each of the bottom layers of the English muffins, followed by sliced pickles, red onions, fried egg, spicy ketchup and ENJOY!

adapted from Michael Symon

Chicken with Basil Dumplings

I’ve never needed a good reason to enjoy a warm soothing bowl of soup. While searching for a new way to give chicken thighs a makeover, stumbled across a delightful dumpling recipe from Dawn Vezina,  my daughter aka “the palate” recommended the basil twist and a star was born!

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If you prefer dark meat over the traditional chicken breast, you will find this recipe exceptionally tasty and combined with the light, fluffy dumplings this soup is perfect to combat the winter blahs and the dreaded flu.  The REAL perk is this soup is even BETTER the next day!

Ingredients:

Soup:

2 chicken leg quarters, cut

2 celery ribs, sliced

1 cup carrots, julienne

1 large onion, diced

1 can chicken stock (14 ½ oz)

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tsp beef bouillon granules

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ tsp salt

1 twist fresh ground pepper

Dumplings:

2 c.  flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp basil

1 tsp salt

¾ c.  milk

4 Tbsp canola oil

Directions:

In a large stock pot, combine the chicken, celery, carrots, onion, chicken broth, parsley, minced garlic cloves, beef bouillon granules, salt and pepper.  Add water to completely cover the chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat , cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until the chicken is cooked through to the bone.  Remove the chicken and let stand until it is cool to the touch.  Remove the skin and tear the meat from the bones, returning the skin to the soup.

Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to a simmer. Meanwhile, combine the dumpling ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until a stiff dough is formed.  Drop the dough one tablespoon at a time into the simmering soup.  Cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Serve immediately

Spicy and Sweet Potato Salad

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Now that the holiday festivities are over, I am more than ready to get back to healthier eating. This contribution to “Healthy Sides” week starts off with the yummy goodness of sweet potatoes! It’s more than the usual roasted yams or whipped sweet potato, it’s a unique twist on a familiar veggie that will leave a big impression.  The natural sweetness of the potatoes, the crunch of the pecans, combined with the added kick of the crushed red peppers creates an unexpected “party” at first bite! Taste and enjoy this delightful recipe that boasts a mere 207 calories and 25 grams of carbs per 1/2 cup serving.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (5 cups)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 strips thick-sliced bacon, chopped

1/2 c. red onions, slivered

1/4 c. honey

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. pecans, toasted

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp scallions, thinly sliced

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. While the oven is heating, toss the chopped sweet potatoes with the sugar, oil, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes and roast for 30 minutes.  Saute the bacon until crisp and remove the fat, but leave the chopped bacon in the pan.  Add the  silvered red onions and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the honey and vinegar until thoroughly combined.  Place the roasted sweet potatoes in a bowl and combine the bacon mixture, pecans, lime juice, and scallions.  Salt and pepper to taste!

adapted from Cuisine at Home

Foolproof Cream Biscuits

I raised a “carb queen” with a great palate and then there’s me,  I’m NOT a bread lover AT ALL, but I am PERSISTENT. Very rarely do I eat sandwiches or even toast, but my youngest is a true connoisseur with very distinguished taste. I’d love to have her palate! At the age of 8, she announced, “Mom I LOVE sourdough bread and I’d like my own loaf when you go grocery shopping!” I think that was the birth of an unspoken challenge between me and the little miss. I’m determined to create the carbs she loves and gain her stamp of approval. So imagine my surprise when I came across such a SIMPLE recipe that left her dancing in her seat and my son finishing the last morsel! Gail 1, Kids 0 🙂

Cream Biscuits

Literally you only need 2 ingredients to create such light tasty biscuits in minutes! Ready…set…go!

Ingredients:

2 1/4 c self rising flour

1 1/4 c heavy cream

*If you’re anything like me, I don’t have an abundance of self rising flour in my pantry so to make the use of your all-purpose flour for this recipe, use the following recipe:

1 tablespoon of baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

**I like my biscuits on the sweet side so I add a pinch of sugar

Directions:

Elevate the oven rack to the second highest position in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare your pan for baking. I prefer soft, flakey biscuits so I used my cast iron coated with sweet cream biscuits. If you prefer your biscuits a bit more crisp, use a baking sheet and make sure the biscuits are placed far enough apart to allow air to flow between them.

Whisk 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl. Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Pour 1 cup of cream into the hollow and stir with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the cream. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved cream, just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy, wet dough. If the dough seems too wet, use more flour when shaping.

Sprinkle a cutting board with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Flour your hands and then fold the dough over in half. Pat the dough into a round about 1/3 to 1/2-inch-thick, using a little additional flour if the dough is sticky. Fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold it a third time.

Choose your biscuit size! Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round for a normal biscuit, 3/4 inch thick for a tall biscuit, and 1 inch thick for a giant biscuit. Brush off any visible flour from the top. Dip a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. Re-flour the cutter after each biscuit. (The scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although these scraps make tougher biscuits so cut your dough carefully.)

Using a metal spatula, move the cream biscuits to the pan, skillet, or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits for 6 minutes, then rotate the pan so the front is now turned to the back. If the bottoms are browning too quickly, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation. Continue baking another 4 to 8 minutes until the cream biscuits are lightly golden brown. When the biscuits are done, a total of 10 to 14 minutes, remove from the oven and lightly brush the top of the biscuits with softened or melted butter.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Many years ago, my children and I decided we DID NOT want to eat the same thing we just ate four weeks ago (Thanksgiving Dinner in the form of Christmas Dinner); therefore, our Non-Christmas Dinner Tradition began!  It started with a very Mexican Buffet, progressed to Sushi, and an elegant and super easy Standing Rib Roast–the sky’s the limit–and our imagination can get pretty creative (as long as there are no leftovers 🙂 )

So I am on a personal quest!  Think outside the box with holiday meals, try something you’ve never heard of, it’s okay, you may like it. This leads me to the beloved BRUSSELS SPROUT (trumpet sounds)! Let’s face it, it looks like a baby cabbage. I’m convinced it’s HOW they’re cooked that gives them a “bad boy” reputation. Come on look at them…

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…aren’t they beautiful….awww…

That leads me to my first Non-Christmas Christmas side: Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

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Ingredients:

2 lbs brussels sprouts

3 shaved garlic cloves

1 Tbsp Canola oil

8 oz pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 Tbsp white wine

Salt and fresh ground Pepper to taste

Directions:

You have two options here, first, thinly slice the brussels sprouts with a knife crosswise and discarding the root ends OR pierce the end of the brussels sprout with a fork and shave it across the mandolin into thin ribbons. The finished product will look like confetti. Shave the garlic in a similar fashion.

Heat the saute skillet with the canola oil on high heat and add pancetta, stir until slightly crisp, 3-5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-high adding the shaved brussels sprouts and shaved garlic, stirring consistently until the sprouts are bright green and tender 3-5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and white wine, cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. #BonAppetite