Rustic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Here is the second of my Valentine’s Day breakfast-in-bed recipes. These are a delicious and unexpected addition to a brunch or a wonderful side dish for any meal! We like these more than traditional breakfast potatoes. They are rustic because we scrubbed them and left the skin on but you can feel free to peel them if you prefer. The recipe can be adapted for however many people you are serving. You could also very easily add fresh herbs if you have them.

RUSTIC ROASTED SWEET POTATOES
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1 sweet potato per person (unless they are really big)
olive oil
butter, melted
seasoned salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thoroughly scrub the sweet potatoes and then dice them and put the in a bowl. Combine olive oil and butter and pour on the cut potatoes and toss to thoroughly coat (I used about 4 Tb. total for 4 large potatoes). Season generously with seasoned salt and lightly with fresh ground pepper.

Pour potatoes in a jelly roll pan or stone (jelly roll pans have about a 1 inch side). Bake for 15-25 minutes until tender and starting to carmelize/brown (I actually put mine back in the oven after the picture because I realized I wanted them done a little more). Stir every 5-10 minutes.

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Cherry Vanilla Scones

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and one taste of these and I knew they would make a perfect addition to a romantic breakfast in bed. We loved them! I made them with a couple of other dishes for Sunday brunch and the meal was proclaimed a big success by all four of my critics. I’m planning to post two additional recipes to add to your Valentine’s breakfast. Hope you enjoy!

These are best the first day but you can definitely enjoy them the next morning.

CHERRY VANILLA SCONES
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3 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. cold butter
1 c. vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt with 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 Tb. of agave nectar
1/4 c. milk
1 c. tart dried cherries, roughly chopped
2/3 c. vanilla chips or white chocolate chips

milk for brushing the top
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and soda in a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Combine yogurt and milk. Stir into the flour mixture until moistened. Gently knead in the cherries and vanilla chips.

Pat the dough about 1/2-3/4 inches thick. Cut into desired shaped and place on a baking sheet. Brush tops with additional milk and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Best served warm!

 

Grandma’s Molasses Crinkles

This is perhaps one of my favorite cookies ever. It brings back many memories of family gatherings and shared meals. While I mostly remember my aunt and my mom making them, the recipe originated with my grandma and so I always think of her. I searched through her recipe box and found it written in her hand with a tiny note that this is a good recipe. Love that.

These are the perfect texture, the perfect combination of spices, perfectly sweet but not too sweet, and perfectly formed with “crinkles” on top. They are delicious warm or cooled. Stephanie even had these as favors at her wedding. Yes, I think it’s fair to say these are a family tradition.

Molasses Crinkles would be a great addition to your Superbowl Party (along with many of other appetizer and snack recipes!) but they would also be good just about any other day. Perfection.

GRANDMA’S MOLASSES CRINKLES
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3/4 c. shortening (trust me on this one)
1/4 c. molasses
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening, molasses, sugar, and egg together until fully combined and creamy. Add flour, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until fully combined.

Scoop dough and roll into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crinkled on top and lightly golden. Makes about 3 dozen.

Grandma’s Lazy Bean Soup

We really haven’t forgotten you. We’ve been getting back into the rhythm of life and haven’t been posting quite as frequently as we had hoped. Never fear, we still have several more of our Grandma’s recipes to share!

Today I made Lazy Bean Soup – it took me about 10 minutes to put together (besides soaking the beans) and then cooked in the crockpot. Simple, delicious, and healthy. Grandma was very interested in health and nutrition and spent time reading about it and planning meals.

This was not so much soup as it was beans. It was hearty and really good. If you want it to be soupier, add another 2-4 cups of water. made this with white beans (we called this “ketchup bean soup” growing up because we loved to add ketchup to it). This is fabulous served with cornbread.

GRANDMA’S LAZY BEAN SOUP
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1# soaked beans (I used white)
1 quart water (use 2-4 extra cups for a soupier soup)
ham bone
1 c. ham pieces
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. celery, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and cook on low for 12 hours or high for 6 hours.

Grandma’s 5 Cup Salad

First, thank you for your kind thoughts and comments. We had a long but beautiful weekend with our family – lots of tears, lots of laughter, and lots of memories. We have a great big, supportive family and it was truly wonderful to be together even for such a sad occasion. We miss her but we rejoice for her.

_______________________________________________________________________

A few years back, I was planning and hoping to compile a family cookbook and began collecting family recipes. I still hope to do that. Instead, we had the best kind of interruption and found out that #3 was on the way very quickly – surprise! We learned of our youngest in early July and he was born mid August. His adoption was finalized in November. Whirlwind. Sometimes I still think we are recovering and he is 3. 🙂 My sweet Grandparents were some of the first people I called with the news of our eminent arrival. They were excited for us. I have pictures of my grandma holding him when he was maybe 4 or 6 weeks old. She loved babies and she got to see him quite a bit those first few months as we had 3 family weddings within 6 weeks.

Anyway, I was looking through the recipes she submitted – some were new to me and others were old standbys. This recipe is the latter. It’s quick, easy, and delicious. I most remember it coming to picnics – we are big on pitch-ins and picnics in our family. Oh and I must mention that one thing I really admired about my Grandma is that she regularly tried new recipes. A funny thing is that she sometimes apologized for her food which was, in fact, nearly always delicious. It was not fake modesty, it was genuine humility – she was definitely not a praise seeker.

So here is her 5 Cup Salad to kick off our time of tribute to one of our favorite cooks and one of our favorite people! I made it just as she wrote and chose to add pecans because I think that is mostly what she did. She really liked nuts. You could easily add both coconut and nuts but then it would be 6 Cup Salad or you could add 1/2 and 1/2 or just pick your favorite.  Also, I used red grapes. I’m pretty sure this salad was served at the funeral dinner on Saturday or at least several like it.

GRANDMA’S 5 CUP SALAD

1 c. mandarin oranges, drained
1 c. pineapple chunks, drained
1 c. seedless grapes
1 c. coconut or nuts
1 c. sour cream

Mix and serve.

(P.S. I’ll add the printable link later – my computer is in the shop and I don’t have a pdf writer on my back up one.)

Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Doughnuts

For Christmas, I received Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker by Mark & Michael Klebeck with Jess Thomson – I think it might have been a not-so-subtle hint from my brother-in-law that doughnuts would be a good next step in the culinary world. I took the hint and excitedly obliged!

This book is awesome! It contains history, tips, recipes, and more for the famous doughnuts made by Seattle bakery Top Pot.  My kids were more than a little excited to see a doughnut book in the mix of my Christmas books and my three-year-old immediately started picking recipes for me to make.

The pictures are beautiful and inspiring and the recipes are detailed and specific. It is thorough and even includes gluten-free doughnut recipes. The book also provides many glazes and icings so you can mix and match your doughnut and topping. Really I just can’t get enough of this book and it’s not helping my healthier eating January. So…I’m going to also give you a yummy reason to break those resolutions for just one day…or two…at a time (ha!).

If you like to cook and bake and enjoy trying new techniques, this book is definitely for you – go pick up a copy! It’s SO fun! I made the Pumpkin Old-Fashioned Doughnuts and the Sour Cream Old-Fashioned Doughnuts – they were both excellent and I can’t wait to try another flavor. Today, I will share one recipe from this great book and you go buy the book and get the rest – you won’t regret it and you will definitely want to make all of the different kinds! Oh and don’t foget to drop off one of your delicious doughnuts for me to try!

Seriously, these are SO GOOD! My family (parents, sister & bil, husband, kids, etc) LOVED them! I’m totally a sucker for pumpkin so these were the first ones I made and honestly, they exceeded my already high expectations. I followed the instructions exactly since I’ve never made doughnuts and they turned out picture-perfect.


PUMPKIN OLD-FASHIONED DOUGHNUTS

Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker
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3 c. cake/soft-wheat flour, plus more for rolling and cutting
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. iodized salt
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tb. shortening/vegetable lard, trans-fat-free preferred
2 large egg yolks
2/3 c. sour cream
1/2 c. canned pumpkin Canola oil, for frying

Pumpkin Glaze:

4 1/2 c./1 lb confectioners’/icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp. light corn/golden syrup
1/2 tsp. iodized salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. hot water

Serves 3 to 4

To make the doughnut dough: Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice together into a medium bowl, and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and shortening/vegetable lard for 1 minute on low speed, until sandy. Add the egg yolks, then mix for 1 more minute on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary, until the mixture is light colored and thick.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three separate additions, alternating with the sour cream and pumpkin, mixing until just combined on low speed and scraping the sides of the bowl each time. The dough will be sticky, like wet cookie/biscuit dough.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap/cling film, for 45 minutes (or up to 24 hours).

Meanwhile, make the pumpkin glaze: Place the confectioners’/icing sugar, corn/golden syrup, salt, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin, and vanilla in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the machine on medium speed, add the water in a slow, steady stream, and blend until all of the sugar has been incorporated, scraping the bowl a few times if necessary. Set aside.

Using a candy thermometer to measure the temperature, heat oil (at least 2 in deep) in a deep fryer, large pot, or high-sided frying pan to 325°F. Roll out the chilled dough on a generously floured counter or cutting board to 1/2 in thick, or about 8 inches in diameter, flouring the top of the dough and the rolling pin as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut into as many doughnuts and holes as possible, dipping the cutter into flour before each cut. Fold and gently reroll the dough to make extra holes (working with floured hands makes the dough less sticky), and cut again.

Shake any excess flour off the doughnuts before carefully adding them to the hot oil a few at a time, taking care not to crowd them. Once the doughnuts float, fry for 15 seconds, then gently flip them. Fry for 75 to 90 seconds, until golden brown and cracked, then flip and fry the first side again for 60 to 75 seconds, until golden. Transfer to a rack set over paper towels/absorbent paper.

While the doughnuts are still quite hot, dip the side with the deepest cracks on each into the warm Pumpkin Glaze. Let dry on cooling racks, glazed side up, for about 15 minutes.

My notes:

* This dough was not as sticky as I expected and was easy to work with – I did use regular all-purpose flour (sifted) but that isn’t as light as cake flour so that may have contributed to the less stickiness.
* Keeping the oil at a consistent heat (between 325-350) was sometimes challenging and I accidentally added a couple of donuts too early which made them take longer or cook too fast and made the end product not quite as good but nobody complained and there were none left!
* I kept the glaze warm (which makes glazing easier) on my warming burner on the stove (low-medium).
* These were best the first day but still quite excellent the next day.
* I was not compensated in any way for this review except for getting to share and enjoy delicious, homemade doughnuts.

Classic Hummus

I always have such healthy eating goals after the sugary (and delicious!) excess of the holidays. So, I’ve started brainstorming some healthier snack options and decided to make hummus. Over the weekend, I made a double batch of it and we have been enjoying it! The kids even like it which is always a plus! I serve it with carrots, celery, and pretzels – the best compliment is our three-year-old proclaiming, “I loooove hummus.” Too cute!

Anyway, this is a quick, easy, and inexpensive snack or side dish. So yummy! You could easily add roasted red peppers or cilantro or other flavors to change it.

CLASSIC HUMMUS
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1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, half the liquid reserved
3 Tb. lemon juice
2 Tb. tahini
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
2 Tb. olive oil
parsely, chopped (opt.)

In a blender or food processor, pour garbanzo beans into blender with chopped garlic. Add lemon juice, tahini, chopped garlic and salt in blender. Blend until creamy and well mixed.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl or storage container. To serve, sprinkle with pepper and parsley, and drizzle olive oil over the top.

2012 Question

Hi. My name is Alaina and I used to menu plan.

When the new year starts, I always feel ambitious and inspired. I want to try new things and more than anything, I want to be a regular menu planner. I know it would make life easier because…true confession…I used to be a fairly successful weekly menu planner (do you like weekly or monthly plans?). Now, I occasionally make out a list and even less occasionally actually stick to it. WHY? I honestly don’t know. Life happens, I get busy, there are a lot of poor excuses.

So, once again, I’m here at the beginning of the year and ready to dive in on menu planning. I know it will save money, reduce stress, and mean healthier eating for our family. I’m a little weary of failing and really, really want to be successful. So – I have two questions for you today that I hope it will be helpful to other readers.

1) Do you menu plan? How often? (Answer on the poll.)

2) What makes you successful (your top couple of tips)? (Please share in the comments.)

Ooh, can I add a third…pretty please…

3) Do you use any type of menu plan sheets, websites, recipe sites, freezer meals etc?

Yes, I realize that was about 5 extra questions not-so-subtly masked in one question. 🙂

Please, please help a girl who desperately wants to be back in the menu planning game.

Happy New Year

Well, our good intentions failed… We really did intend to post last week but we took a vacation week instead. 🙂 We actually got to spend a couple of days together with the rest of our siblings and family – we enjoyed great food, a lot of laughter, and many games. I have precisely zero pictures to show for this. Sigh.

While I didn’t really make any new recipes, I did spend ALOT of time in the kitchen making:

Fudge – I combined the peanut butter and chocolate and made it double decker in a 9×13 pan (yum!), made more mocha coconut, and another batch of butter pecan fudge. Now, all of the leftovers must permanently disappear.

Cookies – Many dozen of many varieties.

Cinnamon RollsPioneer Woman’s recipe is my favorite. The frosting with the maple and coffee is divine but you can also make them with vanilla frosting. They are super easy and I’ve made them a few times this year… 🙂

Jalapeno Dip – This was a last minute decision and I was reminded again of how absolutely delicious and easy this is.

Caramel Corn Two big batches were consumed in and embarassingly short amount of time. We shared with our neighbors and others but still…

Chex Mix – It’s addictive and somehow never gets old. I can’t stay out of this stuff!

Brie – Just yum. I could live on brie.

I’m sure I’m missings something…I did make a nutritious and delicious salad with spinach, mixed greens, pear, pecans, dried cranberries, feta, and balsamic dressing.

All in all, good food, wonderful holidays!

Did you make anything awesome? Any food goals for the coming year?

Welcome, 2012. Back to health and fitness – more of the time. 🙂

 

 

Overnight Coffee Cake

In case you still haven’t set your Christmas breakfast menu, let me offer this delicious coffee cake! My favorite part is that you make it the night before and refrigerate it overnight before baking. In the morning you can stick it in the oven and hit snooze a couple more times or send your significant other down to stick it in while you stay asleep – I would, of course, never  do that (hehehe). This recipe is delicious and you are a total rockstar for effortlessly serving a warm cake.

I like to pair this with egg casserole which can also be made the night before AND they can be baked at the same time. WIN! Now you will actually need to accept an award for your fabulous, organized, awesome breakfast – I promise I’ll keep the easiness a secret from your admirers… 🙂 The awesome thing about this egg casserole is that you can customize it for your taste – you can add veggies, herbs, different meats, or various kinds of cheese – it is an all-time family favorite!

You will thank your self for getting it done the night before and you will love the results! I serve with coffee and tea and with fruit juice and/or fruit salad. Since it’s the holidays, sometimes we will sneak in some of our favorite(!) eggnog from the local creamery or a wonderful champagne cocktail or sparkling wine. Delish!

OVERNIGHT COFFEE CAKE
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3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. yogurt (or sour cream)
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt. Pour into a greased 9×13 in. baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon; sprinkle over coffee cake. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Combine confectioners’ sugar and milk; drizzle over warm coffee cake.