Monday, March 26, 2012

Catching My Breath

You know that scene from The Sound of Music where Liesl gets kissed by Rolfe, then she throws her hands out in front of her and shouts "WEEEEEEE!!!" like she is soooo ridiculously giddy and happy and without a care in the world?

Well, I do not feel like that today.

Have I mentioned that I am in the middle of moving?  And since it has been about fourteen years since I last changed residences, I had forgotten what a god-awful experience it is.  I bought my mother's house last month and my sister and I spent all last week moving her and my stepfather into their new place.  (We coined a new term term too--Organized Hoarding.  JUST KIDDING, MOM!  Sort of.)   Now I get to repeat the whole process AGAIN.  Only add some painting and some repair work to it.  I'm about three fourths crazy right now and I haven't cooked anything worth anything in a week and a half.  And what's even worse than that is that I have ignored some basic grooming tasks like eyebrow plucking because how can I justify that extra seven minutes in front of a magnifying mirror when there are cabinets to be wiped out and dishes to be boxed up?

*I am a hideous beast*

And in the middle of all this, my cell phone had a bad accident and now the battery won't stay in, which causes it to shut down every ten minutes.  I did manage a temporary fix until I have a pocket of time to figure out what kind of new phone I should get. 

On the bright side, the office clips look very Easter-y, wouldn't you say?

And because we're in transition, I have little food in my home.  And I have discovered that having groceries in your home is an integral part of having a successful food blog.  Which means epic fail for Mississippi Kitchen.  A good amount of my daily caloric needs this week have been met with Biscoff and Nilla wafers, which was fine the first 6 times I ate it, but now my body is crying out for protein.

What I wouldn't give for a home-cooked meal.  *Sigh*

But, and this is a big but, I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.  I really am.  Soon, and by soon I mean maybe two weeks,  I will be settled and I will be doing the fun stuff like gardening in my new yard and getting to know all of these trees and plants I have.  And cooking.  Because I'm starving.

Be back as soon as possible.  With food.:)

Pin It!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Whole Wheat Pancake and Waffle Master Mix

Everyone needs a good, basic pancake and waffle recipe in their repertoire, and mine has always been the basic recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook.   I recently got smart though, and developed a master mix by adapting and combining both the pancake and waffle recipes to save some time in the mornings.  Or at dinner.  (Yeah, sometimes we do this.)

I am partial to whole wheat pancakes and waffles.  When I eat pancakes made of all-purpose white flour, although they taste glorious, they just don't stick with me long, and leave me feeling lethargic and lazy later on in the day.  When I switched to 100% whole wheat flour a few years ago, I found I tolerated them much better and didn't suffer from that sugar crash.  Plus, I love the texture of the whole wheat.  Really, these are every bit as good as the white ones.

Here are my notes:

-I prefer buttermilk to milk in this recipe, but you could use either one.  I tested with both.  I think the buttermilk tastes better and richer.  

-I prefer melted butter, but oil will work fine too.

-I usually add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin out the batter when making it with buttermilk because it is super thick.

-You can find 100% whole wheat flour by the regular flour in the baking aisle.

-The yield will vary depending on the size of your pancakes and waffle maker.

-My personal favorite is when I load them with blueberries, but the banana and mini chocolate chip ones I made the other day were excellent too.  My hubby likes toasted pecans in his.

Whole Wheat Pancake and Waffle Master Mix
(Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook)

Dry Master Mix:

(Single Recipe)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

(Quadruple recipe)
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt

(8 X recipe)
8 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons salt

To make the dry mix, stir all ingredients together very well, then place in an airtight container to store at room temperature or in refrigerator. (I put all my ingredients in my Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment, then whisk on low speed for 1-2 minutes to thoroughly mix.)

Pancakes (1 batch)

1 large egg
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, or melted butter
1 1/4 cups master mix

Whisk first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended.  Add mix and stir until just blended.  It’s okay if there are some lumps.  Don’t over mix.  (This makes a very thick batter.  I usually stir in about 2 tablespoons water to thin out, but you can adjust the amount to your liking.)  Cook on a buttered griddle until golden brown.

Waffles (1 batch)

1 large egg
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, or melted butter
1 1/4 cups master mix

Whisk first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended.  Add mix and whisk just until blended.  It’s okay if there are some lumps.  Don’t over mix.  (This makes a very thick batter.  I usually stir in about 2 tablespoons water to thin out, but you can adjust the amount to your liking.)  Cook in a hot waffle maker that has been brushed with butter.

*Whole milk can be substituted.  Decrease to 1 cup.

*Stir in berries, bananas, or toasted nuts to the batter as variations.  Or chocolate chips. 

Pin It!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Swiss-Style Venison Steaks

Who needs toys when you have FOUR HUGE PILES OF RED CLAY DIRT and a Lolli who will let you get as dirty as you want?

What about that landing, huh?  Is he awesome or what?
Little boys are da bomb.

And I'll tell you what else is da bomb--this recipe. 

I had in my mind to make a smothered steak dish using deer instead of beef, so I scoured the Internet for a recipe, but after reading them, I realized that none of them were what I had in mind.  (That sounded like I read ALL of them, didn't it?  I did not.) Many of them were calling for cream of mushroom soup, and I was envisioning something tomato based, so I Googled Swiss Steak and that rang the bell in my head.  I went with Alton Brown's recipe (the Worcestershire sauce was what tipped the scale in his favor), adapting it to fit my needs, and can I tell you?  I will definitely be making this again.  The deer turned out tender and the rice soaked up all the rich gravy.  Loved. 

Here are my notes:

-I added in the part about marinating the deer in Italian dressing.  This is completely optional, but I think it enhances the flavor, as well as tenderizes.  I love to keep bottles of Italian dressing around for an all-purpose marinade.

-It's really important to tenderize the deer.  Put it between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound it until it's about 1/4-inch thick.

-I used a deer ham.  (Or maybe it's a roast?  I am not good with deer parts.)  It turned out nice and tender because it was slow cooked in the oven. 

-I served this over brown rice, but noodles or mashed potatoes would be great also.

-The pictures are not much to look at, but the flavor was great.

-I would have loved to throw some chopped, fresh parsley on each serving, but I didn't have any.

 Swiss-Style Venison Steaks

(Adapted from Alton Brown)

2 pounds venison ham, backstrap or tenderloin, sliced into 3/4 inch slices against the grain
1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large onion, shopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Tenderize the deer by pounding it flat with a meat tenderizer between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.  Place the meat in a zip lock freezer bag with Italian dressing; seal bag and marinate overnight.

Place the flour into a pie plate. Dredge the pieces of meat on both sides in the flour mixture.
Add enough oil to just cover the bottom of a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the steaks to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook in batches until golden brown on both sides, approximately 2 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a plate and repeat until all of the steaks have been browned.

Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery to the pot and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes, paprika, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Return the meat to the pot, submerging it in the liquid. Cover the pot and place it in the oven on the middle rack. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Serve over rice or noodles.

Pin It!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Peanut Butter and Honey Thumbprint Cookies

You guys.

The tree above is a tree in my new yard.  It is covered in beautiful, white flowers.  And if all it did was bloom beautiful, white flowers, I would be happy.  But I think it bears fruit.  I'm not sure what kind, but this is definitely a bonus.  A big, juicy bonus.  My stepfather says it's an apricot tree.  I'm not sure.  Can someone who knows trees tell me?

This is what the  blooms look like:

This tree makes me happy.  But what doesn't make me happy is what's next to it.

The barn.  And although I see potential in this old, rusty structure, right now I want to bang my head against a brick wall because there is so. much. work. ahead.

And I am usually really good about jumping into an undesirable task and just getting it done, but this cleaning out the barn project has been hanging over me for a while now.  

And sometimes when I have undesirable tasks hanging over me, I totally avoid them all together and I start looking through my cookbooks to relax my mind.  Then I wind up baking something from the cookbooks.  Like I did this weekend.  I grabbed one of my cookbooks, The Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookie Book, and I began to thumb through it and a recipe called Bird's Nests caught my eye.  They're basically  thumbprint cookies that call for jam, but since everyone uses jam for thumbprints, I wanted to change it up a little.  So I picked a filling from my childhood, peanut butter and honey.  My sister and I would NOT eat jam or jelly when we were kids, so my mother would mix peanut butter and honey together and spread it on bread.  Peanut butter and honey was not yucky.

These cookies are not super sweet, at least not to me.  And they do look like little bird's nests.  And I was totally going to be all creative and place the cookies in the tree branches of my fruit tree for their photo session, but it started raining, so the kitchen table had to suffice.

Here are my notes:

-The original recipe did not call for vanilla, but I added some and I was glad I did.

-I used chopped peanuts because that's what I had and I knew I wanted to fill with the peanut butter filling.  You could use any kind of chopped nut.

-When the cookies came out of the oven, the thumb indentation had puffed a little and closed up slightly, so I took the end of a wooden spoon and gently pressed it in the hole to open it up again.

-I basically eyeballed the measurements of the peanut butter and honey filling.  You want the peanut butter to be sweet, but not too runny.  I put mine in a plastic bag and piped it into each hole.

-The original recipe does call for a powdered sugar glaze, and I drizzled mine with one too, not really measuring but just adding enough milk to the powdered sugar to make it easy to drizzle.

Peanut Butter and Honey Thumbprint Cookies

(Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookie Book)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 cups finely chopped peanuts
1/3 cup peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Milk to make drizzling consistency for glaze

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet lightly with nonstick cooking spray.  Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until creamed.  Beat in egg yolks until mixed.  Beat in as much flour as possible by mixer, then mix in the rest by hand if necessary. 

Roll dough into 1 1/4 inch balls.  Dip each ball into the egg whites, then into the chopped peanuts, coating well on all sides.  Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.  Make an indentation with your thumb in the middle of each cookie.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown around edges. 

When cookies come out of oven, insert the end of a wooden spoon into each hole to reshape, if needed.  Let cool for 2 minutes on pan, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Pipe a small dollop of the peanut butter-honey mixture into the centers.  Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze.

Peanut Butter-Honey Filling:  Stir together the peanut butter and honey together, using enough honey to make it sweet but not too runny.  Place in a freezer bag with the corner cut out to pipe into each hole. 

Powdered Sugar Glaze:  Stir in just enough milk to the powdered sugar to make it drizzling consistency.

Pin It!