Snickerdoodles, My Favorite

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Deveau Girl Cousins, it’s like a sorority of it’s own.  These girls are spread out all over the country and are aged from adults to those still in school.  They still manage to stay in touch through all kinds of social media.  When they get together–look out.  I could write a book on all their antics, maybe later.

They have tons of traditions a special song at weddings, they perform plays, dance and they make up songs.  That’s where the “Snickerdoodle, My Favorite” came from.  The song was a little ditty about a construction worker who was cramping the style of the family with 5 girls while redoing and reducing the number of bathrooms.

I don’t know if I am allowed to share all the words of the song, and they are ridiculously hilarious, but one of the verses had the snickerdoodle phrase.

Some of these girls are now mothers and they have taught this song to their girls.  One day, my grandson Abbott, piped up with “”Snickerdoodles”  My favowite.”  He just wanted to be one of the gang.

I have attempted to make snickerdoodles many times.  I was ashamed to say with bismall results.  In my quest to contribute to the group, I finally found an easy, uncomplicated recipe that turns out every time.  So thank you Emily, Jenni,Claire, Jessica, Jamie, Jaclyn, Janelle, Isabella, Francesca, Josie and Gianna for the inspiration.  And yes, Abbott the cookies are in the mail.

SNICKERDOODLES

Ingredients:

2 – 2/3 cups flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 – 1/2 cups sugar

1 cut of butter flavored vegetable shortening

2 eggs

2 Tbsp milk

2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl place flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and whisk until well combined.
  3. Cream shortening and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer gradually increasing speed until smooth, light colored and fluffy.
  4. Add milk, eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Add the flour mixture in a scoop at a time, on a low speed so it doesn’t blow alll over.  Mix well
  6. Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 Tbsp cinnamon  in a small bowl.  Form 1″ balls of dough and roll in sugar mixture to coat.  Place them 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake 8 minutes,  or long if you like them crispier.  Cool on baking sheets for 2″.  Remove to rack until totally cooled.

Couple of hints:

  • Don’t put raw cookie dough on warm cookie sheets.  They should be room temperature.
  • If the cookies spread too much when baked, put the pan with raw cookies on in in the refrigerator or freezer for 20 minutes before baking.

Eat up and let me know how you like them.

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Beef Barley Soup a.k.a. “Butt Noodle Soup”

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Butt noodles.  When my kids were little they called barley — butt noodles.  Come on, think about it.  Don’t they look like little tiny tushes?  Anyway, it’s one of my favorite soups.  Here’s my advice on making a heavenly pot of deliciousness.

Beef Barley Soup

Ingredients:

8 quarts of beef broth

2 lbs. beef cubes

3-4 carrots cut into small pieces

1-2 onions – chopped

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 to 1 cup red wine

1 can diced tomatoes

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. grains of paradise (optional)*

1 bay leaf

1 whole clove of garlic

1 tsp. dried thyme

Directions:

  1.  Prepare broth.  I usually use a soup bone but you can use a can of beef brother just as easily.
    1. if using bone:  in a large stock pot place water, the soup bone, a clove of garlic, bay leaf and thyme.  Bring the water to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Simmer for two hours with the lid on.  At the end of two hours you can add a little  beef flavoring  if the stock seems to “thin” tasting.
    2. If using stock from can:  Use two large cans/cartons of beef broth, add enough water to equal 8 cups.  Add a clove of garlic, bay leaf and thyme and 1 tsp. of beef flavoring and simmer  for about an hour.
  2. While broth is simmering prepare the beef cubes.  Salt and pepper beef. In a large frying pan heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Place the beef cubes (leave them large so they don’t dry out while cooking) in the pan and brown.  Do not crowd beef.  Do it in several batches if you need to. (Crowding does allow the meat to brown, it steams it and leaves an ugly grayish color)  See pictures above. As meat browns remove from pan and place on a large plate.
  3. Next add a little more olive oil if needed and brown the onion and carrots.  About 2 minutes or so to caramelize and give it that nice roasted flavor.  Remove from pan into a bowl and let sit until ready for them.
  4. Keep the heat on and add the wine to deglaze the pan.  Make sure to scrap up the goodies from the bottom of the pan.  Pour wine into the stock pot.  Remove bone and cut any meat off and put back into pot.  I then cut the browned meat into small bite-size pieces and add to the pot.  Make sure you add all those flavorful juices. Add diced tomatoes.  Now, taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  If you have it and if you like it, add the grains of paradise.  Simmer for about an hour.
  5. Now add vegetables and 1 cup barley and simmer for an hour (The reason for delaying the vegetables until now is so they don’t overcook and get all mushy.)
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

*Grains of Paradise – commonly referred to as alligator pepper or melegueta pepper.  They are grown in Africa and provide a warm, spicy bite with slightly bitter overtones.  Available at Amazon.com — buy in a grinder (like salt).  under $5.

This takes a little more time then opening up a can and heating it up but, definitely worth it.

Meatloaf – My comfort food!

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I’m a retired teacher now.  Wow that was weird to say.  Some of the best times in my class working with the kids involved food.  We would make cook books, write essays, make things.  They were my guinea pigs — testing my recipes — even making suggestions.  We learned how to format columns and search for symbols in word processing.  We used spreadsheets, statistics and graphics to take polls, expand recipes and calculate costs of food.

I remember one of my students, when asked to write a short warm up about their comfort foods, raved about his mom’s meatloaf.  He almost got teary eyed mentioning it.  “Bryan, I’m going to need that recipe in order for you to pass this class,” I joked.  I got it the next day.  He was right.  Angela Stolz, you do make great meatloaf.  Last night I needed some comfort food and I couldn’t find the recipe she had written neatly on a recipe card.  I panicked and messaged her.  She was quick to reply and soon my house smelled amazingly delicious — and I was comforted.

Here’s the recipe:

Angela’s Amazing Meatloafimg_0930

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1/2 lb. ground sausage

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 medium onion

3/4 cup of milk

1 egg

1 tsp. worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepperimg_0933

Directions:  

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place meat in a large bowl and gently mix.

Place remaining ingredients in a blender. ( I use a Vitamix.). and blend well.  Pour over meat, mix well.

Shape into a loaf.  Place in a loaf pan and bake for 1 hourimg_0934

 

  *This is Angela’s recipe verbatim.  I add ketchup to the top of the meatloaf because in my house meatloaf isn’t meatloaf unless it has ketchup, baked and gooey on top.

Thanks Bryan and Angela.

We love mashed potatoes and creamed corn with our meatloaf.  Share with me what your meatloaf secrets and combinations are.

Christmas Toffee

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I can’t remember a Christmas of late that hasn’t included chocolate toffee.  It started when I was first married.  Eager to prove I was a grown up and a successful entertainer.  When my parents agreed to come to Delaware to spend Christmas with us I went nuts.  I am sure I made fiftimg_0769y kinds of cookies, fudge, bars, candy, you name it.  So much so that my dad and his sweet tooth were overwhelmed.  Normally a very sensible man, he was mesmerized by so much confection . . . he ate it all.  He liked to tell people that he was not a real “sweets person” but those of us who knew him knew better.  A trip to the ER with stomach pains inspired us to give lots of treats to neighbors, friends, homeless people, etc.

I have calmed down a bit after that year but one thing that never goes off the list is my homemade chocolate toffee with almonds and pecans.  It took a few years to perfect it.  The toffee was too grainy.  The chocolate didn’t harden.  Nuts were not delicious (toasted nuts are much better).  Now after about 35 years later I think I have it down pat.  Just don’t eat it all in one setting.

The hardest part of this recipe is the patience and getting use to watching the different stages of toffee.  Is it ever going to get the amber color?  Is it suppose to get this thick?  Why does it separating?  Be patient.  I tried to include some pictures of the stages the confection will go through.  Literally times no time at all to complete.

OMG CHOCOLATE TOFFEE

INGREDIENTS

 

 

1 1/4 c. unsalted butter

1 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

pinch of kosher salt

2 c. semisweet mini chocolate chips (if all you have is regular chips that is fine)

1/2 c. toasted chopped almonds

1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans

Sea Salt to top

DIRECTIONS

 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toast and chop your nuts.  By the way you can sub almonds and pecans for other nuts, but why would you?

In a heavy duty saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stirring constantly with a wood spoon.  Continue cooking after the butter melts.  You will go through several stages of color and texture.  The continuous stirring keeps the butter and sugar from separating.

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Let butter melt and then cook, stirring constantly with a spatula (so the butter and sugar don’t separate!), until mixture turns a dark amber, 15  to 20 minutes, maybe even more. If it takes longer than this you may not you may not have the heat hig enough so turn it up and keep stirring.  Always stirring.  Some prefer to use a candy thermometer to determine whether it is done.  If so you should shoot for 288 degrees or the hard crack stage.) This mixture should be amber in color.

Pour toffee mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately spread out the chocolate chips evenly on top of the toffee mixture. Let it set a minute to melt and using a spatula spread the melted chips evenly over the toffee mixture.

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Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the top.  Lightly press down on the toffee with your hand to embed the nuts.  Top with sea salt.  I like the flaky kind.

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Refrigerate until set, about 2 or so hours. Then cut or break into pieces.

Enjoy!

 

Hint:  I store the leftover crumbles, from the breaking and cutting in a container to serve over ice cream.

Chocolate. Need I Say More

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One of my favorite things to make (okay, and eat) are chocolate bouchons.  I use the recipe from the Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery.  They are easy and delicious.  You must however, use good ingredients!  Bouchon is a french word that means,  a stopper or cork at the mouth of a bottle.  They are best seimg_0778rved warm.  It’s a little bit of heaven.  The bouchon or timbale silicone molds can be purchased at Williams and Sonoma for $29.95 or at Amazon.com for $20.00.

I make these a lot because they are delicious, chocolate, easy and very elegant looking.  There are no words for their deliciousness except, eat up!

 

 

 

Recipe courtesy of Bouchon Bakery

SERVINGS

12

INGREDIENTS

Butter and flour for the timbale molds

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equatoriale (55%), chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar

PREPARATION

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Butter and flour 12 timbale molds (Bouchon Bakery uses 2-ounce Fleximolds and serves smaller bouchons. You can also use 3-ounce [2- to 2 1/2-inch diameter] timbale molds for larger cakes.) Set aside.

3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

4. Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, and fill each mold about two-thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a toothpick: It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale molds and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the molds.

5. To serve, invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with ice cream if desired. (The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked.)

Potato Soup – In the crockpot

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img_0613You always hear that you shouldn’t grocery shop when you are hungry.  You also may want to make this recipe on a day when you aren’t home–you may need to rehydrate if you don’t from all the salivating that will take place.  My house smells so good right now I can’t stand it!

For us it’s a good Sunday or Monday soup.  My husband cooks bacon on Saturday mornings out on the grill.  Why?  I do love bacon but I don’t like my house smelling like bacon all weekend.  So he cooks it on Saturdays and we refrigerate for use during the week.  This recipe is garnished with bacon so I’m sure to have cooked bacon on hand.

This recipe is simple, you will have all of the ingredients on hand, your house will smell great and it is DELICIOUS!

CROCK POT POTATO SOUP – Loaded Potato Style!

img_06116 – large or 8 medium white potatoes cubed about 1/2 inch or sliced, your choice

1 large onion (white/yellow — it doesn’t matter)

1 box chicken brother (I also have used 2 chicken boullion cubes and five cups of water

2 garlice cloves minced or pressed

1/2 stick of butter

1 teaspoon salt (less if you use boullion cubes)

1 teaspoon black or white pepper (I love white!)

1 – 1 1/2 cup half and half (depending how soupy you want it)

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Garnish – (or you can just dump it in!)

cooked crumbled bacon

chives or green onions

cheese for on top

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Directions:

  1. Throw all 7 first ingredients into the crockpot.  Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours.  Make sure potatoes are done!
  2. Mash mixture with a potato masher until soup thickens but potatoes are still a little chunky.
  3. Stir in half and half and cheese.  You can also throw in the garnish or parts of the garnish if you would like at this point.
  4. Top with remaining garnish.

It serves 6 – 8 people.

Serve with a fresh salad and dinner is done.  Boom!

Just a little extra tip:  If I don’t happen to have already cooked bacon and I have to cook it I do it in the oven.  I cover a 9 x 13 pan with foil, extending up the sides a couple of inches higher than the pan — it helps keep my oven cleaner.  I bake at 400 degrees until it’s done.

 

Fresh Pickles

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Wait.  Isn’t that an oxymoron?  I mean, don’t pickles have to sit and pickle?  Not these delicious morsels of summer.  I love pickles and these are one of my favorites.  No canning and best of all very little waiting.

One year I had a plethera of pickling cucumbers left and no energy to do anything with them.  (Yeah, that was when I had to get ready for a new school year.) I decided to make some quick pickles for dinner.  (See, I told you that you would not have to wait long.)  I remembered having them at one of my childhood friend’s house growing up.

 

I don’t know what they called them but I remember the crisp, sharp taste!  Here’s the recipe:

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FRESH PICKLES

2 quarts, unpeeled diagonally sliced pickling cucumbers. (You can use regular pickles too, slice diagonal but don’t peel!)

1 – 2 large white onions, sliced IMG_0564

2 bay leaves

4 tsp. dried dill or 3 Tablespoons fresh

4 tsp. mustard seed

1 cup vinegar

2 crushed garlic cloves

2 tsp. kosher salt

3 tsp. sugar

In a non-reactive bowl, place the cukes, dill, bay leaves anIMG_0617d toss.

In a heavy saucepan heat vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed and
garlic cloves.  Bring to a boil–making sure the salt and sugar dissolve.

Pour hot mixture over the cucumber mix –toss.  Leave at room temperature  or refrigerate.  What ever you prefer.  I like minechilled. Eat.  They could last 3-4 days in the refrigerator . . . but they won’t.

Enjoy!