Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bacon Pancakes

You win some, you lose some.

This recipe wasn't a hit for us. In fact, I was the only one who tried them.

Onto the list of complaints...the pancakes themselves were rubbery and flat. I've made better pancakes. The pancake area surrounding the bacon was soggy and not the sort of texture I'd want to experience first thing in the morning.

As far as praise...the flavor? Amazing. Matt suggested cooking the bacon first, chopping it up and adding it to the pancake batter then frying the pancakes in a small amount of bacon grease to retain the flavor but to omit the strange texture. I thought that was a good idea.

I love the look of the pancakes, though. They're neat. Sorry, Martha...we didn't really dig this one.

Bacon Pancakes
Martha Stewart
Makes 8

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
8 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 200F.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter and egg. Add flour mixture and mix until just moistened with small to medium lumps.

Cook bacon over medium high heat in a large skillet. Drain all but 1 teaspoon fat from skillet. Heat skillet to medium.

Pour 1/4 cupfuls batter into skillet and top each with a bacon slice. Cook until bubbles appear on top of pancakes, about 2 minutes. With a spatula, carefully flip pancakes and cook until browned on underside; 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter with bacon side up and loosely tent with foil. Keep pancakes warm in oven and repeat with remaining batter.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chicken Strips

In an effort to sway the Bear's opinion on chicken strips (he doesn't like them - whaaaat??), we tried this simple, kid-friendly recipe and accompanied them with homemade honey mustard dip and french fries (he likes french fries!). To add a bit of 'healthy' to the meal, I threw together a broccoli salad.

There's nothing fancy about these chicken strips - you'll notice a distinct lack of herbs or spices, and the coating is also very simple. They are perfect for choosy kids or for a quick, easy meal. Don't skimp on the buttermilk marinating time - it renders the chicken moist and tender instead of dry and tough. Don't have buttermilk? Add a half tablespoon vinegar to a half cup regular milk and allow to sit for ten minutes.

We found that baking wasn't enough to brown the coating. The chicken cooked through moist and juicy but the panko crumbs stayed an anemic pale color. Since we had a pot of oil going for the french fries anyway, we gave them a quick fry to crisp and brown the coating and that worked well.

Don't forget to serve some sort of dip alongside the strips - plum sauce, ketchup, whatever you like!

Side note - these would make fantastic appetizers. Cut the chicken smaller than you would for dinner portions, thread onto a skewer and bake as below. They could be served set in small glasses of your chosen dip or set out with a selection of dipping sauces for guests to choose from.

Chicken Strips
Simple Bites

1 lb chicken, fillets or breasts cut into strips

1/2 cup buttermilk

salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 cup corn flakes, crushed into fine crumbs

1 cup panko bread crumbs

In a small bowl, mix buttermilk, salt, pepper and paprika. Add chicken and marinate at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F. Combine corn flakes and panko, season with salt and pepper (plus any other herbs or spices you desire) and place on a plate. Coat one or two pieces of chicken at a time in the breadcrumb mixture and place on a greased wire rack on a baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked and golden.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

I've been MIA for awhile, haven't I? The new year brought about several changes for we three, and our home, that have kept us busy....

Our basement flooded just over a week ago, due to a foot of snow melting in twenty-four hours plus endless, heavy rain that started the day after the snow fell and continued for the next five or six days. It was as unpleasant as you can imagine. Thankfully, the water has now stopped seeping up through the foundation, the house has a functioning sump pump, and our basement is unfinished so nothing was damaged save for our weary backs.

The Bear is developing in leaps and bounds. He's talking a mile a minute, in full sentences! He will, for example, request a specific movie (Cars being the current favorite with CHiPs reruns a close second) or tell us where he's driving his Hot Wheels car (Grandma's house, usually). We're regaled with stories of preschool (baking cookies) and he loves to pray for his meals (mentioning everyone he can think, of during said prayers). Bear's physical ability is steadily improving as well. He is able to walk quite far without any assistance and thoroughly impressed his preschool aide this past week by walking independently from one play center to the next.

Now that it seems we've settled back into normalcy (fingers crossed, knock on wood), I'm feeling the desire to bake and cook again. Enter buttermilk biscuits.

Ok - I am loving these. They're the perfect texture and make a beautiful vehicle for sweet and savory (grape jelly! eggs!). We dipped them in a ham and cannellini bean soup. Matt thought they needed a bit more salt; I'd used unsalted butter and although I found them fine, I'll probably use salted butter next time around.

Buttermilk Biscuits
Honey & Jam who adapted it from Food & Wine

4 cups flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup salted butter, cubed and chilled, plus more for spreading

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400F and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk and stir until a shaggy dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface; knead until it comes together. Pat the dough 3/4 inch thick.

Using a 3 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out as many biscuits as possible. Reroll the scraps and cut out more biscuits.
Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and risen, shifting the pans halfway through baking. Let the biscuits cool.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quick & Easy Seasonings

As one of our homemade Christmas gifts, I mixed up these seasoning blends. Easy, inexpensive and delicious. Packaged them in small jars found at the thrift store with labels easily printed out at home.

Rubs should be applied lightly with fingertips and don't need time like a marinade does - rub on, grill (or bake/roast/what have you).

Who needs sodium-packed storebought blends when making your own is as easy as this??

Chile Rub

Makes 10 teaspoons
Martha Stewart

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Suggested uses include whole chicken or turkey, pork and most cuts of beef.

Curry Rub
Makes 10 teaspoons
Martha Stewart

4 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Suggested uses include lamb, chicken and shrimp.

Spicy Paprika Rub
Makes 9 teaspoons
Martha Stewart

4 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Suggested uses include salmon, skirt steak, pork and whole chicken - fattier the better.

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