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Showing posts from 2011

Homemade Soft Pretzels

I have always enjoyed a good soft pretzel.   But, then again, I am a nut for bread, period.   Add to that a craving for mustard, and I am drawn into the fresh, hot, soft, warm, delight, smothered with the tang of a good yellow mustard!

I am also a pinterest addict.   I think I spend more time on pinterest than on Facebook, which seems to be more productive.   Where is this going, you ask?  While perusing pinterest in search of ideas, I came across a pin for hot soft pretzels.  The picture of the pretzels was great, because a wicked craving for fresh hot soft pretzels ensued and was not satisfied until this morning.  So, all in all, that craving lasted 2 weeks, about?

I never really thought that making pretzels would be enjoyable.  I believed they were probably too complicated and the outcome would pale in comparison to those made at the pretzel stand in those rotating ovens.  I think I believed the magic to a good pretzel was in the machine and not in the recipe.  Oh boy was I wrong.…

Cinnamon Burst Bread

This recipe is a favorite and is based on the yummy bread made by Great Harvest.   Its good for eating, toasting, making into french toast and is a super bread if you love bread pudding. 

This recipe makes four loaves.  It can be halved to make two, if needed.

3 T yeast
1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
3-3/4 c warm water
4-1/2 t salt
4-5 T vegetable oil
2-1/2 generous cups (use more if you like) cinnamon baking chips
11-12 c all-purpose flour (or can use a bread flour or a mix of bread, all-purpose or white whole wheat).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1/4 c warm water and 1 T sugar.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  To a large mixing bowl, add remaining water, eggs, and oil.  Combine.  Add the yeast mixutre to the water, eggs and oil.  To this add salt, 4 cups of flour.  Mix until it resembles a good cake batter.   Add cinnamon chips and 7 more cups of flour, taking care to add them slowly avoiding dough to be too stiff.  Knead by hand or in mixer for 10 minutes.   Add any ad…

Corn Bread

A couple of weeks ago, in the throws of school and packing and house hunting, Hawley sent me a bunch of recipes to contribute to the site, cause she knew I was going crazy.  Of course, I didn't get to them right away, but here we are and we are back, at least until I have to unplug in a month and relocate my studio/office.  But until then, the stories and recipes will once again flow.  Thanks for being patient and thanks for continuing to come back to the site!

Today's recipe is cornbread... I am putting both Hawley's and my version of this recipe out there.  They are a tad different, but both are delicious and I know everyone usually has a reason why they like their cornbread a certain way.

Here's Hawley's:

When I got married, my mother-in-law gave me a cast iron frying pan and said that I would use this more than any other pan.  I did and I still do.  I love my black cast-iron pan.  I use it for pancakes, bacon, fried eggs, cornbread and just about anything that…

Hootenanny Pancakes

I would love to be able to tell you that my sweet ol Appalachian granny from West Virginia made this wonderful dish, but that would be lying.  I have no Appalachian grandma.  But we can pretend, right?  I have yet to really determine their origins.  Most of what I am finding is that they are German - but then again, I could claim my wonderful German grandma used to make these.... shoot, can't do that either, unless any of my cousins will back me up???   Anyhow, I made these wonderful things for the first time this morning.   They are sort of a yorkshire pudding but sweet instead of savory.   They were just delicious!  I thought that they would go well for when all the kids are home and we have a house full of company.  Easy to mix up, 20 or so minutes in the oven.  You can be making bacon/sausage and setting a table while it cooks.  Cheap, easy and oh so good.  My kind of food!  SIDE NOTE:  The traditional recipe does not have cinnamon and sugar in it.  Those are my additions that…

Arlene's Chicken and Rice Casserole - well sort of...

My mother, dear Arlene, made this chicken and rice casserole often, and I mean often.  I swear we had it once a week, at least.   It wasn't until I was a single parent that I really understood why it was such a staple.  It was easy, it fed a lot of people (and there were a lot of us) and it tasted pretty good.   It was one of her signature dishes - well signature casseroles.  She even included it a family cookbook put together many years ago by my cousin Todd.   However, the recipe in the family cookbook, just never was right.   Something was off.   Night before last, my daughter called and wanted me to remind her how to make the casserole.  I rattled off the process and thought, ya know, I need to work this all out, cause it just doesn't work that way and here I am perpetuating a not so very good recipe.  Last night, I went to work on figuring out what the issue was with this recipe and what I could do to make it really good.

Mind you, this is a casserole.  It is easy and it …

Swedish Meatballs with homemade smashed potatoes

Yesterday was one of those days. No, this week has been one of those weeks, where I just haven't had time or energy to cook. I have lots of ideas, lots of recipes out, but I am not even in the mood to go to the grocery store, let alone cook. That being said, I decided to pull some meats out of the freezer.  I had handy a recent delivery of pork products from my favorite local organic farm.  I had grabbed some of his homemade italian sausage and some ground pork.   I let it thaw and in the meantime, was trying to figure out what I should do with it.  I wasn't interested in anything Italian.  We have had too much of that lately.   I had these great farmers market mushrooms I needed to use up as well and then the idea came.  Meatballs - but then I didn't want Italian.  How about Swedish meatballs.  They have that nice creamy mushroom sauce/gravy.   It all clicked.  Now remember, I am still not in the mood to really cook a gravy from scratch.   So now what, Cream of Mushro…

Muskmelons - A Sundae and a cold summer soup

My mother grew a plethora of muskmelons.  The smaller ones she would bring home and slice then in half, clean out the seeds and scoop vanilla ice cream into the center.  Sometimes it was homemade ice cream.  She would drizzle homemade hot fudge sauce or a homemade strawberry rhubarb sauce on top. It was incredibly yummy.   Try it sometime, its so simple!

Here is a fantastic recipe for muskmelon soup.  Go with it for a moment, okay?  It's of course, a chilled soup.  I promise, you won't be disappointed.

1 muskmelon, peeled, seeded and cubed.
2-1/2 c orange juice, fresh squeezed if you can.  (Clementines are GREAT).  Is not, use the NO PULP variety.
1 T fresh lime juice.
2 t honey (we like Liquid Gold Honey)
1/4 t ground cinnamon

1.  Place the prepared muskmelon and 1 c of the OJ into a bowl.  Using a hand blender, process until smooth.  You can use a regular blender or a food processor).  If you used a blender or food processor, transfer to a large bowl.

2.  Once blended, add t…

Citrus Glazed Grilled Chicken

3 T Orange/Pineapple Marmalade 2 T Honey 3 T pineapple juice 2 T olive oil 1-2 cloves of garlic - minced 6-8 chicken thighs (I used bone in skin on, but you can do skinless/boneless too.  Just takes less time to cook) Kosher salt and fresh pepper - to taste
In a small bowl, combine the marmalade, honey, juice, olive oil and garlic.  Whisk until well incorporated. 
Prepare your grill before you fire it up, by spraying the grill with Grilling Pam.  Make sure your grill is nice and hot.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Place seasoned chicken on grill, skin side up.  Baste the skin with the glaze.  Grill the chicken for about 4 minutes, until nice grill marks are present and skin is golden brown.  Continue to baste during the 4 minutes.  When ready, turn the chicken and grill again for an addition 4-8 minutes, basting the other side with the glaze.  
When chicken is done, remove from grill and pour the remaining glaze over the chicken.

Magic Squares

I first discovered these treats when I was living in Rockland County New York and working as a nanny.  A nanny friend of mine made them for a party.  I was surprised I had never had anything like them, considering all of the sweets my mother baked throughout my 23 years, thus far.

These 7 layer squares are what they are - seven layers of sugary goodness.  You can substitute crushed oreo cookie crumbs for the graham cracker crumbs; you can change out the butterscotch chips for peanut butter chips or white chocolate chips; walnuts for the pecans or a variety of nuts; but really, it is what it is and it is very very yummy!

Magic Squares:

1/2 c melted butter
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (can use vanilla wafer crumbs or Oreo cookie crumbs)

Melt butter.  Add crumbs to melted butter and mix thoroughly.  Pat the mix into a 9 x 13 baking pan sprayed with Pam.

1 6 oz pkg chocolate chips (can be semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
1 6 oz pkg butterscotch chips (can substitute white chocolate, pea…
I went to the farmer's market yesterday afternoon and picked up some local veggies.  I was getting low and was craving the garden-fresh taste of good vegetables.  I saw some zucchini that were perfect and grabbed six of them, along with some very colorful cherry tomatoes (even purple ones, which were quite tasty) and walla walla onions.   I had gotten a delivery of some more italian sausage from my Ruegsegger Farms and was staring at this, wondering what I was going to do with it.  I remembered that a friend had sent me a stuffed zucchini recipe of hers and thought, lets give it a try.   Try we did and it was fabulous.  There is just the two of us now and I still haven't learned the trick to downsize my cooking for two, so I always seem to have plenty.  At least Tom gets a great lunch the next day!  Because there were extras (I made 6 boats - 3 zucchini's halved).  I caught him walking around later in the evening with one of the leftover ones; he just picked it up and was …

Amy's Tacos with homemade flour tortillas

My oldest child Amy is a fantastic cook.  Everything she cooks is really good.    She married into a family that goes to Lake Powell every summer.  They have a tribe of many mouths to feed.  This is a recipe that she makes ahead (cuts up the veggies, puts them into ziplock bags) so that al she has to do is heat it up!  She made this for our family because we have a tribe to feed as well (when we all get together there are 26 of us)!!  - Hawley

Amy's Tacos

1-1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Fry these ingredients together.  Drain fat.   To this mix add:

1 T chili powder or taco seasoning
1 t cumin
Mix well in the pan.  Then add to the mix: 

1 can tomato soup
1 can refried beans
ketchup to taste (abt 2T)
Worcestershire sauce to taste (abt 1T)
Basil (optional)
Simmer for one hour. 

Shredded cheese of your choosing
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomato 
Sliced avocado
Sour cream
Taco sauce (red or green) or salsa
Black Olives

When ready to assemble, have lettuce, tomato, sour cr…

Grandma Geiger's Chocolate Chip Recipes

My daughter called me today.  Once again, it was for a recipe and one I had not included in their cookbooks.  That always happens!  So as I was typing out the recipe to send to her smart phone, I thought, "what the heck?"  Why have I not put this recipe on the blog.   So, here it is....

Its an heirloom.  She kept a cookie jar full of these at all times, for whenever any of her grandchildren came over.   It was collected by my cousin Todd years ago, when they sat grandma down and picked her brain for all of her recipes.   Ill post her bread recipe next week.  You'll enjoy it, with the handful of this and a spoonful of that....heirloom it is!  This one she wrote down and the original is now mounted and framed and on my cousin's wall.   Pretty special.  Its a tad different from your traditional tollhouse recipe, but it is oh so good.

Grandma Geiger's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grilled Lamb Chops, right from the farm

I love summer, because I love to grill.  I have pretty much tried everything on the grill, from the traditional burgers, brats, chicken to roasted veggies and even my roasted Roma tomato sauce.
Today, its lamb chops.  We get our lamb from a great local farm, Ruegsegger Farms.  Their meats are fabulous and we have enjoyed helping to support our local farmers.    The lamb chops are lightly rubbed with olive oil and seasonings and grilled, nothing too complicated and simple flavors, so as to not mask the flavor of the lamb! I like to serve the lamb with either a spaetzle or a gnocchi, and a good salad with a glass of ice cold home made lemonade.  I hope you like it!
Grilled Lamb Chops
4 Lamb chops, about 1 inch thick Extra Virgin Olive Oil Salt and Pepper to taste. Fresh rosemary (optional) Fresh thyme (optional) Garlic puree or minced garlic (optional)
Little drizzle the chops (both sides) with the olive oil.  Sprinkle your salt and pepper over both sides.  If you wish, mix the salt, pepper, ros…

Greek Egg-Lemon Soup (Avgolemono)

Avgolemono Soup (Greek Egg-Lemon Soup) 8 cups chicken stock  (use your own homemade or you can buy good chicken stock (not broth) over the counter at your local grocery store.  I make my own, cause I like the added flavors) 1-1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta 6 egg yolks (room temperature) 16 oz heavy cream (room temperature) 5 Meyer lemons, juiced  (should be about 1/4 c of lemon juice, but it all will vary according to your taste) salt and cracked black pepper to taste
In a large soup pan, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Add the orzo and cook about 8-9 minutes, until tender.  
While orzo is cooking, in a medium bowl, slightly beat the egg yolks and add cream, whisking until mixed together.  When pasta has cooked, turn off the heat.  Remove 3 c of the broth from the soup pot.  One cup at a time, SLOWLY whisk the stock into the egg/cream mixture to temper the mixture.  (This ensures that when you add the egg/cream mix to the stock, it wont curdle the cream and scramble the egg).   When all three …

Carson Gulley's Fudge Bottom Pie

When trolling a Facebook group this week about growing up in Madison, a discussion was started about Carson Gulley's Black Bottom Pie.   I had long forgotten about this decadent dessert and was quickly transported back to days sitting in the union, having wandered down with friends just for an excuse to have some of this pie.   I was surprised to see that a large number of people were involved in this "discussion".   I had no idea it had become so iconic.  So I set out to do a little research myself.

I discovered that there is quite a legend as to the origins of the pie and its attribution to Carson Gulley (head chef of UW Madison's residence halls for over 20 years).   A great article was written by Michael Penn on The Life of a Pie and the life of Mr. Gulley.  Follow the link and you can read all about it.  

Something more than just the story of the pie hit me as I was devouring this article.   Julie Vincent, Memorial Union's assistant director of food and ret…

A Dixie Banana Pudding Trifle - my "Chopped" moment...

I have to tell the story behind this one.  I needed to make a dessert for a funeral lunch of a dear friend.  It had been an exhausting weekend and start to the week and my grandiose plans of some fabulous and intricate yummy dessert were left behind because of shear exhaustion.  I looked through the freezer and cupboards and found the following:  A 1/2 sheet cake in the freezer (Florida Citrus flavor) that I originally baked for a going away party the previous weekend. Lemon curd, Coconut curd, Vanilla pudding, Cool Whip,
Chocolate sprinkles,  and a couple of bunches of bananas ready to turn (who was not eating the bananas???)

I wondered what could I do and mulled it over for a few days.  When Wednesday morning came, I woke up and had this idea.  Its a banana pudding/trifle kinda thing.  I can't see to find the right "name" for it.    I put it together, chilled it for several hours, told a few friends the story and had them try it to see if it worked (I know, a little la…

Gnocchi (to go with those Grilled Lamb Chops)

I love anything potato.  I did not have an Italian grandma who taught me how to make these (I sure wish I did).  I ate them once, fell in love with them.  Im German and Irish, like I wouldn't love anything with so much potato????
I discovered that they are not as difficult as they seem and they are just so good.  Its also that making fresh dough thing.  There is something very therapeutic about it.  
4 large Idaho Baking Potatoes 2 Eggs 1 t salt 1/2 t pepper 1-1/2 Flour
Wash and pierce the potatoes with a fork.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until tender and done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.  Cut the potatoes lengthwise, in half.  Scoop out the flesh.  (Set the skins aside and make some Smokey Potato Skins).  Do not cool the potatoes too long.  You want to work with the potatoes while they are still warm.  It helps in making a light and pillowy gnocchi.  
Place the potato flesh in the center of a mixing board or mat, so they are all i…

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie.
CRUST 1-1/2 c crushed graham crackers 3 T sugar 5 T butter, melted
PIE FILLING 2 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk 8 large egg yolks Zest of 2 lime 1 c key lime juice (approximately 20-30 key limes, depending on how juicy they are)
Few tips:  For the Key Lime juice, you have a couple of choices - you can squeeze fresh key limes or you can use bottled Key lime juice.  If you choose to use the bottled juice, pick one that is not "imitation".  You have plenty of options.  If your supermarket carries it, they will shelve it with the bottled lemon juices.  If not, has Nellie & Joe's by the bottle or by the pack.
I like a thicker pie, so this recipe makes a filling that when set is 1 to 1-1/2 inches.   If you like a thinner filling, reduce the filling recipe in half.

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 2.  In a medium bowl, add crushed graham crackers and sugar.  Mix together thoroughly with a fork or a whisk.  Add melted butter and stir until all crumbs …