Never Send A Man To Buy Flour Unless He’s Alton Brown

Several months ago, maybe even a year, I asked Mr. Flower to bring a bag of bread flour home from the store. It never entered my mind that this was a Mission Impossible. Mr. Flower is pretty smart. I mean, he can read and everything so I didn’t think he’d have any trouble finding a widely available product clearly marked ‘BREAD FLOUR’.

bread floour

Boy, was I wrong.

“I didn’t see any bread flour so I got this,” he tells me, plunking down a five-pound sack of self-rising flour on the kitchen counter, “It’s the same thing, right?”

Well, no, it’s not the same thing.

Alton Brown would know this.

But not so Mr. Flower.

So I said, “Thanks, anyway,” and put the bag of undesired flour in the back of the pantry where it waited patiently for my tight-wad-don’t-waste-food gene to wake up, which took about three months.

If you google ‘recipes containing self-rising flour’ you will get a couple million links. Somehow, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only woman in America that has a husband that can’t ‘see’ bread flour in the grocery store. We are 2,000,000 strong!

Anyway, I happened to have some fresh apples on hand when I got the urge to not waste food, so that narrowed my search a little for a way to use the flour. That knocked the links down to about half a mil. Then I narrowed it to muffins, bringing it down to an easily manageable 100,000 links. hahahahaha

So, inspired to post by momoe and her recipes for the New Normal, here is one for Apple Cinnamon Muffins found online but adjusted by me…because I can never leave well enough alone.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

1 egg, slightly beaten

½ cup milk

¼ cup oil

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup peeled, grated apple*(this takes 1 or 2 apples, depending on their size)

1 ½ cups self-rising flour **

Topping

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons oatmeal

1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin very well, or use pan spray or baker’s spray. Don’t forget to grease the top of the tin too, as the muffins will stick to it when they rise and spread over the rims of the cups.

Make Topping mix first: In a small bowl, blend brown sugar, oatmeal and cinnamon together; mix in melted butter/margarine until mixture is crumbly. It may be necessary to add a bit more melted butter/margarine to achieve the crumbly texture. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl mix egg, milk, oil, sugar, cinnamon and grated apple. Add flour and stir just until all is moistened. Spoon evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle each with a heaping ½ teaspoon Topping mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees for 17-20 minutes.

Tip# 1

The best apples to use are the sweet snacking kind like McIntosh, Gala, Honey Crisp, or Yellow Delicious. Tart apples like Granny Smith are great for pies, but these muffins need the sweetness and ‘mushiness’ delivered by snacking apples.

*Tip# 2

To avoid having the grated apple turn brown, peel and then grate directly into the mixing bowl with the wet ingredients. An exact cup measurement is not imperative for the apple. An eyeball measure of this one ingredient will do. Usually one large apple or two medium/small ones is adequate.

**Tip# 3

If you do not have a husband that buys the wrong flour, all-purpose flour can be substituted for the self-rising with a few adjustments. To 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour add 1/2 heaping teaspoon of salt and 2 level teaspoons of baking powder. Whisk or sift to blend. Adding these ingredients will give you the equivalent of self-rising flour.

Tip# 4

These muffins keep well in the freezer! If the whole batch cannot be eaten within a day or two, wrap each one as tight as possible in plastic wrap or foil, then place inside a baggie or reuse a bread bag. This well wrapped, they will stay fresh in the freezer for a month to six weeks at least.

Banana Muffins

Banana muffins did not become a part of American cuisine until the second half of the 20th century.  Last night when I was looking for a scratch recipe for the muffins I could not find a recipe in any of my old cook books.  I had always made the Bisquick recipe off of the back of the box.  No wonder, I didn’t have one until I bought my last cook book a few years ago. There are so many recipes for banana muffins on the internet that it is easy to find one but they are really creative with the ingredients that you may not have on hand.  Many of the new cook books have muffin recipes that go way over board with fat and sugar not counting on things like imported spices not commonly found at the local store.

The old cook books start to show banana bread in the 1930’s but the muffins are simple quick breads slightly sweeten.  Most common is corn muffins and raisin muffins.  Later you see fruited muffins like blueberry and apple in cook books.  According to Wikipedia, Chiquita Banana Co promoted recipes for banana’s in their 1950 little cook book.  I know in the late 1950’s Bisquick added a banana muffin recipe to the back of their box and that is when I started making banana muffins in the summer time during school break.   For years they kept it on the back of their box.  Banana muffins, dumplings and shortcake was the things made from Biquick.  That was why I bought it.

Around 2000 I fell in love with a little kitchen ware shop that was featuring baking pans and bundt pans from Nordicware.  In the window in the fall was maple leaf shaped muffin pan that spoke to me.  I thought about it for a couple of weeks and finely gave in and went back and bought it.  It was an expensive purchase for me even then because it was $28.  The charming clerk told me to get Bakers Joy spray to use with the pan and be generous with it, that way nothing would stick.  I have enjoyed the pan ever since and bought a second one a few years ago even though my money was scares when Walmart had them for half price.  One pan only held 6 muffins and most recipes I made were for 12 muffins. I have gotten my money’s worth out of the pans and my collection of Nordicware is one of my favorite kitchen tools I have.

Here is the basic banana muffin recipe that I put together last night.  I didn’t want to use butter, butter milk, sour cream, spices, chocolate or baking mixes, just simple, in the pantry, ingredients that were low cost.  Just like the simple muffins in the old cook books I have.  I think I got it right because all 12 muffins are now gone.  It didn’t take them long to disappear.

Basic Banana Muffin

Preheat oven 400 degrees and grease or spray 12 muffin cup pan.  Do not use paper cup cake liners the muffins will stick to them when you eat them.

Sift together and set a side:

1 3/4 cups of flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

In large mixing bowl mix:

2/3 cup mashed banana

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

Beat wet ingredients until well blended.  Add half dry ingredients and mix on slow speed then add rest beating on slow speed first and on medium speed for a minute to blend.  Spoon into greased muffin cups and bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes and flip out of pan to finish cooling.  Mini muffins only take half the time to bake so set the timer for them at 8 minutes. 

 

This is just a simple recipe to use up ripe bananas that would go to waste. If you want to make just plain muffins, just leave out the bananas and add 1/4 cup milk more to the recipe.  You can add a few raisins or chocolate chips to it if you like. A streusel top can be made of equal parts of brown sugar, flour, and butter. I usually make it 2 tablespoons each. and mix it with my fingers until it is crumbly. Top before baking. Don’t use margarine it is too soft to crumble.  If I don’t have butter I use shortening.  I found many depression coffee cakes that used shortening in the streusel just add a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to the shortening streusel to give it some flavor.  For you dieters sugar is considered a liquid in a baking recipe, so when you reduce the volume of sugar you must put something in its place like apple sauce or baby food plums.  Or you will have little hard muffins.

Historically muffins has been a simple fair that was eaten by common folks. This recipe is a good addition to your recipes to have when your are out of money and out of ideas.

Crossed Post at Trkingmomoe’s Blog

Cooking For One (Chicken)

One of the hardest things to adjust to when living alone is cooking.  There is a few cook books that have been published for cooking for two but you end up only finding a few recipes that you like.  I have many retired single friends who have come up with some simple recipes for cooking chicken cutlets or other cuts of chicken for just one person.  You end up with usually a package of chicken breasts and thighs that will serve 4 each, which you will divide up into freezer bags for the month. Here is some wonderful ways to fix them.

Italian Chicken Cutlets

1 boneless chicken breast

Italian dressing

Bread crumbs

Potatoes, carrots or what vegetable you want to fix for yourself

Foil or parchment paper

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  You are going to be baking the chicken wrapped either in foil or parchment paper on a baking pan. Pour a little Italian dressing into a saucer and dip chicken breast into it coating both sides.  In a baggie or on a saucer place about a 1/2 cup of bread crumbs to coat chicken on both sides.  Then place the chicken on the foil. If you choose you can add some seasoned vegetables around the chicken.  Wrap and seal in the foil or parchment.  You will then bake the chicken 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and leave the foil open to brown the chicken and potatoes if you wish. 

Chicken Paprikas

1 serving of chicken (thighs, breast, legs)

1 teaspoon of margarine

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 slice of onion chopped

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup of sour cream

2 teaspoons of flour

In a small skillet or saucepan with tight lid, put margarine and onion on medium hear and brown lightly.  Add paprika, then add chicken with water and stew slowly until well done. Take sour cream, mix in flour.  Stir into chicken when done.  Do not boil.  Stir lightly and simmer slowly until sour cream mixture thickens slightly. Serve with noodles, rice, or mash potatoes. 

Chicken with Honey and Lemon Sauce

1 serving of chicken

2 tablespoons of honey

2 tablespoons of lemon juice ( 1 will make it less tangy if you prefer)

salt, pepper and parsley to taste

Julienne carrots

Foil or parchment paper

Cooked rice

Preheat oven 350 degrees. A sheet of foil or parchment paper and baking pan.

Combine honey and lemon.  You may want to taste to see if you want 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Place chicken on foil or parchment paper and pour honey/lemon over it.  Add carrots and season to taste with salt, pepper and parsley. Wrap and seal in foil or parchment.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.  Serve over cooked rice.

Quick Chicken Cordon Bleu

1 boneless chicken breast

1 slice of Swiss cheese

1 slice of deli baked ham

Bread crumbs

Melted butter or margarine

Foil or parchment paper

Salt, pepper and parsley to taste

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  One sheet of foil or parchment paper and baking pan.

Cut a pocket into the chicken breast.  Fold the ham and cheese together and tuck into the pocket.  Roll the chicken into the melted butter and then the bread crumbs.  Place on foil or parchment paper.  Add the left over butter to bottom of foil or paper.  Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle a little parsley over the chicken. Wrap and seal. Bake for 40 minutes and check after 30 minutes leave open so the chicken will brown.

 

Chicken Cacciatore

2 servings of chicken

1 Tablespoons oil

1 can Italian style stewed tomatoes

1 small can of mushrooms

1/2 green pepper cut in pieces

1/8 teaspoon of basil

Hot cooked pasta

Brown chicken in oil for 10 minutes, turning occasionally.  Drain oil and add tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and basil.  Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 25 minutes. Serve over hot pasta.

I thought these were great dishes for one person that my friends passed on to me to share with you.  It is not often that you see Chicken Paparikas or Cacciatore for one in a recipe.  I was told that the chicken cacciatore sauce was too much for one piece because of the can tomatoes.  So she always put a second piece of chicken in to eat the next day. Please enjoy!

Crossed Post on Trkingmomoe’s Blog

Caramel Swirl Bundt Cake (Easy and Inexpensive)

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Here in South Florida it is bargain time in the grocery stores.  The snow birds have left and there is items still in the warehouses left over from snow bird season that needs to be sold.  I take my time shopping and look for the mark down stickers. This week I got cake mixes for $1 and brownie mixes $1.15 a box.  It looks like Pillsbury is making some changes in their product line.  They have flavor packets to add to plain white frosting. The baking mixes that I found on sale was Pillsbury.  I got some canned frosting too that was marked down. Big Lots still had Pillsbury Valentine cookie mixes for $.65 a box.  They don’t expire until next year so I picked up some more boxes.  I can’t make a batch of cookies for the cost of a candy bar. I like making my own cookies because I am in control of what goes into them but a small budget makes me take advantage of what I can find inexpensive.  There are lots of things you can bake with a cake mix.  This one of my original recipes for a bundt cake using a mix.

Caramel Swirl Bundt Cakes

Preheat oven 350 degrees and spray with baker’s flour spray a tube bundt pan.

1 box yellow cake mix (follow the directions for mixing up the batter)

1 teaspoon of butter flavoring (added to the batter)

Mix together in small bowl:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Spoon in a layer of batter on the bottom of a prepared bundt pan.  Just enough to cover the bottom. Then spoon small piles of sugar mix on top of batter.

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You will now spoon another thin layer of batter on. Repeat with the sugar mixture.  You should be able to repeat the sugar layer 3 times all together. Ending with batter on top. Sprinkle what is left of the sugar on top.

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Now take a butter knife and cut through the batter without touching the sides and bottom and swirl the knife a little. Go around just once you don’t want to over swirl. 

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Bake as instructed on the box for tube bundt cake.  It takes about 50 minutes,

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Wait at least 10 minutes before turning out the cake. Some of the caramel with stick to the pan on the bottom.  I just pick it out and put it on the top of the cake.  Be carefull it will be hot.  You don’t want to wait too long to remove the cake or it will stick on the bottom.

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Once you get the little bit of caramel that stuck to the bottom of the pan on the top of the cake where it pulled off, you can sprinkle it with a little bit of powdered sugar. It helps make it look like a bakery cake.

It is so good. My family ate 3/4ths of it today. The butter flavor give it the right amount of buttery flavor to go with the brown sugar that it tastes like rich caramel with a hint of cinnamon.

Enjoy!

Crossed post at Trkingmomoe’s blog

Red Beet Pickled Eggs

ImageMy dad loved these and were made often when I was growing up.  I continued to make them for my own family.  My parents were from western Pennsylvania and the cooking was influenced by the Germans that settled there.  Red beet pickled eggs today is considered Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. When the chickens laid too many eggs farmers would pickle them for future eating.  They are easy to make today because all you need is a can of pickled beets, a few spices and onion.  I keep an old quart jar to make them in because the beets stain plastic.

The last shopping trip the store I found a can of pickle beets for 68 cents.  I thought I had picked up just beets because I was planning to make beets with pineapple.  What must of thrown me off was the price, you pay a little more for pickled beets.  They are usually in glass jars and have onions already in them.  But for pickled eggs the plain pickled beets work just as well and it is easier and cheaper.  There was still some eggs left from last week bargain find of a dollar a dozen, so I really needed to use them.  Older eggs are better to hard boil and peel.  The shells don’t stick to the eggs like the fresh ones do.

Now it also depends on how you boil your eggs to keep the shells from sticking.  What I do is put the eggs in a pan of cold water enough to cover them. Then I bring them to a gentle boil and let them boil gently for 2 or 3 minutes and turn off the stove. A tight lid needs to go on the pan and you let them set in the pan covered and forget about them.  When you remember you were making hard boil eggs, they should be cool enough about room temperature to handle.  They will be easily peeled and cooked all the way through.  This is the way I was taught and I don’t have much trouble peeling the eggs. You can give this a try if you have trouble making the perfect hard boiled egg.

Red Beet Pickled Eggs

6 hard boiled peeled egg

1 can of pickled beets undrained (the juice is needed to pickle with)

1 onion thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

5 whole cloves

1 can of water

In a small sauce pan heat the pickled beets with juice, water, onion, bay leaves and cloves just to a boil.  I usually taste the beets to see how sour they are, sometimes they need a tablespoon of sugar added for taste.  Heating is important so the spices release their flavors.  Put the eggs and beets in jar and pour over the juice.  Place a lid on the jar and let it cool.  Then chill over night.  They will be ready in 24 hours.

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With a ladle, in a clean quart jar, put some beets and onion in the bottom. Then add two eggs and continue to alternate between beets and eggs.  Then pour the juice over the eggs  in the jar.  If there is not enough juice add more hot water to fill up to the top.  Put the lid on and give it a gentle shake to mix the water in.

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You can only get 6 or 7 eggs in a quart jar, so if you are planning on doing more, you will need to double the recipe and have two jars for a dozen eggs.

They make pretty deviled eggs too.  I find the men like these eggs and always ask, here in the south, were did you get those.  The stores down here sell large jars of spicy hot pickled eggs.  I guess red beet pickled eggs are new to them.  The beets can be used in salads or served as a side dish.  I don’t keep them past 5 days.  The eggs get eaten and there is always a few beets to toss out.  I try to use all the beets but the kids turn their noses up to them. I used to make the pickled beets from scratch but using the canned ones don’t stink up the house because you aren’t cooking the brine for 20 minutes.

Simple eats for small budgets.

cross post at Trkingmomoe’s Blog

Corn Casserole (Comfort Food)

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A couple of years ago, on my local television station,  a local restaurant chef was invited to cook one of the resteraunt’s specialties.  It was one of the upscale eateries in Sarasota, somewhere I would never be able to afford.  The chef went on to tell the host that his corn casserole was one of the most requested items on the menu.  Well that caught my attention, so I ran and got a pencil, to copy down the recipe while he was demonstrating how it was made.  With full attention I started writing down what he was doing. When he got to the box of Jiffy Cornbread mix, I realized I was making the same recipe for years.  I quickly pulled my recipe card and sure enough it was the same recipe.  I got a chuckle out of that because wealthy retirees were paying top dollar for inexpensive comfort food.  The only thing he did different was put a couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce in it, to give it a little heat.  He then pulled out the finished dish and plated it up.  He did the squirt bottle of some kind of red sauce around the edge of the plate and threw a few garnishes on it.  The host loved it as he tasted and said no wonder it was the most requested and what an excellent chef he was.  He probably got the recipe from dear old mom.

Now every time I make this, I still chuckle at that memory.  I used to serve this as a side dish or take it to a pot luck.  Now it has become the main coarse out of necessity and sees me through to the next shopping trip.  As a main dish I usually add crumbled bacon to it or fry a quarter pound of sausage to add.  This way my family is not complaining about eating a meatless dinner.  Today I served it with pickled red beets and pickled eggs to round out the meal.

Corn Casserole

1 can of creamed corn

8 oz. sour cream

1 stick of melted butter or margarine

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix

1 can of whole kernel corn, drained

1/4 cup red pimento chopped

1/4 cup green bell pepper chopped

1/4 cup onion finely chopped (optional)

fried sausage or bacon crumbled (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

couple of dashes of hot sauce to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a casserole dish, set aside.

Mix the first 6 ingredients with mixer until blended.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients until blended. Pour into prepared casserole and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  If you use a 13 x 9 inch dish it takes about 10 more minutes to finish baking.  A toothpick should come out clean.  After it is baked the top will settle a little bit, this is normal.

For those of you that have small families or just cooking for one or two.  This can be baked in small casseroles and frozen to eat later in the month.  My mother did this to this recipe after she had a empty nest.

I will post the pickled egg recipe tomorrow.  It is also a yummy pot luck or picnic favorite.

Please give this recipe a try.  You will make over and over again because it is yummy comfort food.

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Crossed Post at Trkingmomoe’s Blog

 

Strawberry Bread (Heirloom Recipe)

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Strawberry Bread and Cream Cheese

There is just a little bit of strawberries left from my last trip to the green grocer.  The strawberries are now very ripe and soft, just perfect to use for old fashion strawberry bread.  My mother raised strawberries and sold them in front of our house when I was growing up.  In fact she continued to raise them until she sold the house at the age of 75.  We lived on a main highway and people would start stopping in May asking if she would have any to sell.  When I was little I would sit out there in the sun, under an umbrella waiting for customers.  My mother would be busy out back in the garden , so my job was to take the money and make change. My older brother and I would take turns doing the selling.  She would pay a nickle for every quart I sold.  Strawberry season lasted only about a month, so by the time the month was over I would have five or six dollars to spend on something.  This was in the 1950’s and $6.00 would buy something really nice.  When I was 8 years old I bought my mother a birthday gift with my strawberry money.  It was pair of tomatoes salt and pepper shakers.  I still have them and they have humbly sat on the back of my stove ever since I left home. They are a little chipped and getting old but still full of strawberry season memories.

One of the most favorite sweet breads that I like is strawberry bread.  This is the original recipe that was enjoyed during strawberry season.  It is a simple inexpensive recipe that makes a small loaf just perfect for a very small family or one person.  There is nothing more delicious then a slice of strawberry bread and cream cheese. They make the perfect companions with a cup of coffee or tea. Enough said about me…lets make strawberry bread.

Strawberry Bread

2/3 cup crushed strawberries

2 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray and 8×4 inch loaf pan with vegetable spray and cut a piece of wax paper or parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Use spray to make the paper stick to bottom.  The bread will easily drop of out pan when you remove it with the paper.  Clean and crush strawberries and set aside. Beat eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients and beat well.  Add crushed strawberries and beat in.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes.  The loaf does not rise real high like modern quick bread recipes.  Cool in pan.  When cool remove from pan by turning over in to a plate. Peel the paper off the bottom and flip over.

It smells so good.  You will have a hard time waiting for it to cool enough to remove from the pan.  But it slices better when it is cooled and the cream cheese spreads better if you set it out to soften as you are waiting.  Please give this little recipe a try.