Sunday, May 31, 2015

creme brûlée...

 I got one of these mini blow torches for my Birthday...

So I had to make this. Good call.

It always amazes me how a few simple ingredients can result in something so delicious, with minimal effort. This really is a fairly simple dessert to make. I used vanilla beans, but if you'd rather use vanilla extract, it would be just as delicious. In fact...this particular recipe only called for a vanilla bean but next time I will add a teaspoon of vanilla, as well. Just make sure it's pure vanilla extract. 

1 quart heavy cream 
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped 
1/2 cup sugar, plus a little extra for brûlée 
6 large egg yolks 
2 quarts hot water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place cream, vanilla bean and it's pulp into a medium saucepan set over med high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.

In a medium bowl (or bowl of mixer), whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and pale yellow. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour through a mesh strainer. Pour mixture into 6 (8 oz) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake just until the cream is set but still trembling in the center, approximately 40-45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove from refrigerator for at least 30 min prior to browning the sugar on top. Sprinkle 1/2-1 Tbsp sugar evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow creme brûlée to sit for at least 5 min before serving.

*brulee method can also be done under the broiler set on high. Watch closely until it begins to brown and bubble. Using hot pads, remove from oven.

Recipe source: Alton Brown;

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

waffles...and the BEST buttermilk syrup you've ever had...

This is good. Oh, so very good. These waffles are so easy to throw together, just as easy as a mix, but soooo much tastier. I double the recipe and get about eight thick waffles. One batch would make about 4 Belgian waffles and 5-6 in a regular waffle iron.

 And let me just go on about this syrup for a minute...I've been making this for years for my family and it is unbelievably delicious. Like, lick the spoon/bowl/plate delicious. I usually make it with vanilla extract, but you can substitute for coconut extract and it is just as good. The leftover syrup stores well in the fridge, and makes a fabulous ice cream topping, as well. 

3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups flour 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
Pinch of salt 
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Preheat waffle iron. Melt butter in microwave. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. In another bowl beat together milk and eggs. Whisk liquid mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in melted butter. Spoon approx. 1/2 cup batter onto iron and cook until golden brown and crisp around edges. 
Remove from iron and keep warm on baking sheet in oven while making the rest.

Buttermilk syrup:
1 cup white sugar 
1/2 cup buttermilk 
1/2 cup butter 
1 Tbsp light corn syrup 
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp vanilla extract or coconut extract 

Heat first four ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Let boil 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. NOTE: the mixture will bubble up when baking soda and vanilla are added and it is HOT. Stand back until it settles down and stir until combined 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sunday pot roast...

I've made pot roast more times than I can count. However, I haven't had a favorite recipe. They've all been good, for the most part, but not necessarily good enough to make twice in one week.

The very best thing about this "Sunday pot roast" is that it happened on a Thursday...that's a fabulous thing. It had been a long, busy, rainy day and I had no plans for dinner. It needed to be easy and stick-to-your-ribs delicious (and NOT pizza). Well, it delivered in all categories. Throw it all in one pot, put in the oven and in three hours you have a melt in your mouth dinner. Don't be turned off by the gravy packet. I don't usually use them, but it worked perfectly here. It made a lovely little sauce under the beef that was so delicious.
The name for this came from the fact that my mom would put a roast in the oven on Sunday's before church and three hours later we walked in the door and dinner was done! My kids do not know that luxury.

The only catch here is that you need a Dutch oven (type) pot with an oven-safe lid. You could transfer everything to a 9x13 pan and cover with foil if your pans are not oven safe.

1- 3lb (approx) chuck roast 
Potatoes (1-2 per person); quartered *
Carrots (1 per person); sliced in half, then in half again 
1 onion; quartered
1 pkg low sodium brown gravy
Salt and pepper 
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
Heat Dutch oven on medium heat with olive oil. Season meat with salt & pepper. Place in pot and cook until golden brown and a crust begins to form. Turn and repeat on other side. Turn off heat and remove pot. Add vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle gravy mix over everything in pot and pour in water. Cover and place in oven for three hours.

*I use white or red potatoes, russets have too much starch and would not hold their shape & turn out mushy...not good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

oatmeal muffins...

I have a picky eater at my house. She doesn't "do" sandwiches. She loves muffins, though, so when I saw this recipe I thought it might be a good addition to her lunchbox. One batch makes 18-24 muffins so I freeze them and pop a frozen muffin in her lunch. 

These are perfect for a weekend breakfast/brunch, as well. 

The recipe has a lot of steps but each one is easy. Plus, when you get so many for your efforts it's worth it.

2 T butter
2 cups oats 

Melt butter over medium heat and toast oats until golden, 6-8 min.*

*(I usually skip this step)

Place oats in food processor and process to flour. Add:

1 3/4 cup flour 
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp baking soda 

Pulse to combine and set aside.

In a large bowl mix 1 1/3 cups brown sugar and 6 Tbsp melted butter. Stir until lumps are gone.
Add 1 3/4 cups milk and 2 beaten eggs. Mix to combine. 

Add dry ingredients in two stages (folding in with a whisk), turning and shaking off of whisk as you go. Let batter sit for 20 min.


1/2 cup oats 
1/3 cup flour 
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon 
Pinch of salt 
4 Tbsp melted butter 

Stir to combine 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin tins really well. Fill muffin cups to the top with batter. Top each with 2 Tbsp topping. Bake 18-25 min. Rotate pan halfway through baking. Let cool in pans for 10 min on top of cooling rack.

If freezing, let cool completely and place 9 muffins in a gallon sized freezer bag.

Recipe source: Americas Test Kitchen 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

loaded mashed potato bake...

This is a favorite at our house. Any time 4 lbs of potatoes are polished off in one sitting...(keep in mind I do have three teenage boys) you know it must be good. 
This is everything you love about a loaded baked potato and everything you love about mashed potatoes combined in one delicious, creamy side dish.

4 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp pepper 
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese 
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled 
2 green onions, sliced 

In a large pot boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain well and return to pot. Mash potatoes. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
Add butter, milk, sour cream and seasonings and mix well. Stir in Parmesan cheese and one cup of cheddar.
Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 25 min. Remove from oven and top with remaining cheddar cheese and bacon. Bake for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with green onions.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

chocolate chip cookie pie...

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies. LOVE. This pie is my new favorite dessert. It comes together so fast and is extremely gooey and delicious. The chocolate chips sink to the bottom creating a fudgy layer and the center is what chocolate chip cookie dough dreams are made of. To make this happen even faster, buy frozen pie crusts already in the pie tin. I usually make two because...why not? Take one to a friend and keep one for yourself! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

1 unbaked 9 in. deep-dish pie crust (or frozen pie crust)
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
Beat eggs on high speed until light and foamy. Add both sugars, the flour and vanilla and mix until combined. Mix in the softened butter. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour into prepared, unbaked pie shell. Bake 50-60 min or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Set on cooling rack for 15-20 min before slicing. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

the BEST sandwich...

If you are, by chance, in need of a lunch idea this week...well, look no further. This combination of hearty bread, cream cheese and veggies is perfection. You could add turkey or ham to make it even more filling. Have you tried "Dave's Killer Bread?" This is the Good Seed variety. The story behind this bread is so worth the read (

This is how I doctored up the sandwich, but by all means, cater it to your own liking!

2 slices Dave's Killer Good Seed bread (or any hearty, seeded bread)
Cream cheese 
Salt & pepper (very important!!!)
Sliced English cucumber 
Sliced green onions 
Shredded carrots 
Spinach leaves 
Yellow banana peppers