Tip Tuesday: Some Recipes from the Boxes of Baking Mix

Tip Tuesday

Happy April Fool’s Day!  The one day of the year (besides St. Patrick’s Day) that all teachers dread.

Tip:  Check the packaging of items that you purchase for recipes.

I have several recipes for baking mix in my very bloated Chrome bookmarks courtesy of the Pinteresting Blogosphere.  But I have bowed to convention (and convenience) and purchased baking mixes.  Yesterday purchasing some from Kroger would probably be my last batch.  I usually just make the biscuits mentioned on the back, but I noticed with the Kroger box (and my Pioneer canister where I store any that I buy because it has the neat lid), there are several other recipes.  I may have purchased the Kroger brand for the recipes.  Perhaps.

Here are the recipes from the Pioneer canister:

Pancakes and Waffles

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs

2 cups baking mix (leaving out the brand name here but you get the idea)

Heat lightly oiled surface to 350 degrees.  Mix ingredients until smooth.  Add 2-4 tablespoons melted butter, if desired.  Cook pancakes 1-2 minutes per side (turn only once); cook waffles 2-3 minutes.  Yield 12-14 5-inch pancakes; 10-12 5-inch waffles.


2 cups baking mix

2/3 cup milk

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 qt. chicken or beef broth

Quick Beefy Fiesta Bake

1 pound ground beef

1.25 oz package taco seasoning mix (or use homemade)

1 cup baking mix

16 oz. can refried beans (or 2 cups of homemade)

4 oz. can chopped green chilies

1/4 cup water

1 cup thick and chunky salsa (or your own variety of salsa mixed with a bit of pico de gallo)

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Optional garnishes:  guacamole, sour cream, green onions, sliced olives, crumbled corn chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare meat to taco package directions (or how you normally prepare meat if using homemade).  Set aside.  Combine next 4 ingredients.  Spread in 2-quart baking dish.  Top with prepared meat, salsa, cheese.  Bake 25 minutes.  Garnish with desired toppings.

Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie

1 2/3 cups frozen mixed veg, thawed

1 cup chicken, cooked and diced

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, or half of the recipe from Gimme Some Oven

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup baking mix

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix vegetables, chicken, soup, sour cream, and onions in a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.  Mix remaining ingredients until blended.  Pour over chicken mixture in pie plate.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Fruit Cobbler

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup baking mix

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2-21 ounce cans fruit pie filling

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix sugar and baking mix.  Cut in butter, mix in cream and vanilla.  Shape into ball and refrigerate 30 minutes.  Pour fruit into 7×11″ pan.  Heat 10 minutes.  Roll chilled dough out on floured surface.  Place over hot fruit.  Bake 25 minutes or until golden.  Brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Quick Marmalade Curried Chicken

1 cup baking mix

1/2 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground!)

4 boneless chicken breasts

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon of vinegar/lemon juice and milk to fill the rest of a cup measure to the top)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup orange marmalade

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix baking mix and pepper.  Dip chicken in buttermilk, then in dry mixture.  Heat oil in skillet.  Brown chicken.  Mix remaining ingredients.  Pour over chicken.  Cover.  Simmer 20 minutes or until tender.  Uncover.  Simmer 5 more minutes.

And here are the Kroger ones.  I must note (and my sister and mom will concur):  I will never again eat “Bisquick” pizza.  Long story.  I barely lived to tell about it.  Just kidding, Mom!

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

1 1/2 cups baking mix

1/4 cup hot water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped or stripped (or shredded)

1/2 cup diced red pepper

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 cup honey barbecue sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine baking mix, HOT water, and vegetable oil until a soft dough forms.  Beat dough about 20 strokes.  Let dough stand for 8 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine cooked chicken breast, red pepper, green onions, and barbecue sauce.

4.  Grease cookie sheet or 12-inch pizza pan.  Using hands dipped in baking mix, press dough into a 13-inch circle on cookie sheet, pinching up edges 1/2-inch or press into pizza pan.  Spoon barbecue chicken mixture onto dough and top with cheese.

5.  Place in oven on lowest rack and bake 12-15 minutes.  Refrigerate any leftovers.


2 3/4 cups baking mix

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine baking mix and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Add egg, milk, and melted butter or margarine.  Stir to form soft dough.  Turn onto surface lightly floured with baking mix.  Knead gently 8-10 times.  Pat or roll out 1/2-inch thick.  Cut with a floured 3-inch cutter.

Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes.

Separate shortcakes and fill with sweetened fruit or berries.  Top with more fruit and whipped topping.  Store any leftovers in tightly covered container.

Sausage and Gravy

1 pound pork sausage (preferably homemade)

1/3 cup baking mix

3 cups milk

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper (or more to taste, freshly ground please!)

In a 10-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until browned.  Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of drippings.  Place sausage in a bowl and set aside.

Add the reserved drippings to skillet and stir in baking mix until blended.  Gradually stir in milk until smooth.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Return to heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and stir in sausage.  Serve with biscuits.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Double Cornbread

1 cup baking mix

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

1 cup canned cream-style corn

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease 9x9x1 3/4-inch baking pan.

Sift baking mix with cornmeal, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, milk, butter, and corn.  Add baking mix mixture, stirring only until baking mix is moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared pan; bake 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester (toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean and top is golden brown.  Cut into squares and serve hot.  Store any leftovers in a tightly covered container.

Apple-Nut Coffee Cake

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups baking mix

1/3 plus 1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 medium apples, pared and chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9x12x2-inch baking pan.

Beat egg; stir in milk, apples, and oil.  Stir in baking mix, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, stirring just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy).

Pour into pan.  Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, pecans, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  Sprinkle mixture over top of cake batter and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Store any leftovers in a tightly covered container.

Chicken and Dumplings

3 pound cooked chicken or turkey, shredded, or cut into pieces (white and dark meat)

4 cups chicken broth

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (or half of this recipe)

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 small onion, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups baking mix

2/3 cup milk

Heat broth in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the cream of chicken soup and mix thoroughly.  Add chopped onion and mixed vegetables and stir.  Mix in chicken or turkey pieces.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the milk and baking mix until a soft dough forms.  Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto boiling mixture to make approximately ten dumplings.  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Cover with lid and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Remove lid and serve hot.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Hamburger Pot Pie

1 2/3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1/2 ground beef, browned and drained

1 can condensed cream of mushrooms soup (or homemade equivalent)

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

1/8 teaspoon black pepper (or more to taste–freshly ground!)

1 cup baking mix

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (finely shredded)

1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together vegetables, cooked ground beef, condensed soup, onion, and black pepper in an ungreased 9-inch pie plate.  In a small bowl, stir together baking mix, milk, and egg.  Fold in cheddar cheese.  Pour over beef mixture.

Bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown.  In a small bowl, blend melted butter or margarine and garlic powder.  Brush over top of baked pie.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

That’s a whole bunch of recipes to enjoy with baking mix!  What I love about recipes like this is that they are fairly basic, so you can change them up as you wish and make them your own!


The Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge: Soft Pretzel Bites (The Slow Roasted Italian)

New Recipe Challenge

I may have mentioned already that I love The Slow Roasted Italian’s website, haven’t I?  Everything pretzel and buffalo, plus lots of sips and eats to warm the tummy.

I had originally intended to make this recipe Friday (when I wasn’t planning a new recipe and didn’t feel like cheating everyone), but the Homemade Hamburger Buns intervened.

Not to change the subject (at all), but I try to make sure that Muffin isn’t with me when I go to Walmart during midday to night because invariably I hear this plaintive cry, “I wanna prentz-ul!”  And, to save the ears of everyone in the tri-state area, I tend to give in WAY TOO OFTEN.

That’s why I was super jazzed when I ran across this recipe by The Slow Roasted Italian herself:  Soft Pretzel Bites.  A recipe that requires no rise time (the only one I’ve found that doesn’t), so if you have your game on (and I didn’t), you can finish the recipe, start to finish, in 30 minutes.  Seriously.  I did not have my game on, so it took closer to an hour, but if I can hold homemade pretzel bites over Muffin’s head (offer Muffin the option of helping me make homemade pretzel bites, I mean), we might leave Walmart without shelling out the big bucks to Auntie Anne’s (yes…an Auntie Anne’s inside Walmart…that’s cruelty to parents).

We all got into the action making these, and, as I said, if we had prepared a bit beforehand, it would have gone much faster.  I followed the recipe on The Slow Roasted Italian verbatim, but next time I would probably brush them with butter instead of egg wash for salting.  The eggy taste was a bit prominent.  We had these for lunch with pepperoni slices (I know; totally healthy, right?) and strawberries.  Josh and Muffin ate theirs with cream cheese (Josh discovered the joy of stuffing his with cream cheese) and I ate mine straight up with yellow mustard.  Here’s a picky of the yummy results.

This is Muffin’s plate.

…and my plate!

Makes ya just kinda want one right now, doesn’t it?

Here’s what I did (The Slow Roasted Italian does mention options for those without stand mixers, but I figure you want to learn from my mistakes):

By the way:  The recipe makes 64 bites.  After about five, I started to get full.  They puff up bigger than the pretzel bites at Auntie Anne’s.  And, if you do butter instead of egg wash (since it would be difficult to half an egg), you could easily half the recipe.

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (I used the yeast from Sam’s.  I have moved it to a zippy bag, so I’m not sure if it’s active dry or not, but it really worked.)

1 1/4 cups warm milk (110-120 degrees Fahrenheit)  I put mine in a Pyrex cup for one minute in the microwave on high.

2 tablespoons honey (remember:  local is best!)

3 1/4 cups flour (plus possibly more on standby if the dough is too sticky)  I only used 3 1/4 cups.

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup baking soda

1 large egg + 2 tablespoons water (or 4-6 tablespoons melted butter)

kosher salt for sprinkling on the pretzels

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a half sheet pan with foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

Pour milk into the bowl of the stand mixer.  Add milk and honey.  Stir.  Allow yeast to much on the honey for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.  This is something good for your almost-four year old to monitor and give you status updates while you set the rest up.

Fill a Dutch oven or small stockpot with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  At this point either beat the egg and water together with a fork or melt the butter in the microwave.  Set either aside for now.

Add flour and salt to mixer.  Nudge it to the stir setting and allow the dough hook to work its magic until all of the flour is incorporated.  After that, kick the mixer into speed at 4 and allow the dough hook to do the kneading for you for three minutes.  At this point check to see if the dough is sticky (if it sticks to your fingers) or tacky.  If it is still sticky, add more flour in a tablespoon at a time until it becomes tacky.

Remove the dough from the hook and the bowl and form into a ball.  Use a pizza cutter or a butter knife to divide the dough into four equal wedges.  Roll each wedge into an 18-22-inch “snake” or rope of dough.  Cut this into four equal pieces.  Reshape the ends slightly and divide each of those pieces into four pieces.  You should have, after dividing all of the dough, 64 pieces.

Add the baking soda to the now boiling water.  It will bubble explosively for a few seconds.  Enjoy the drama at this point. Place the dough bites in the water, 8 at a time, for 30 seconds each.  Evacuate with a slotted spoon to the prepared pan to cool.

After you have boiled all of them, arrange them on the foil so that they are not touching (with my trusty half-sheet pan, I just barely had enough room).  Brush egg wash (or butter) onto each one and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake 10 minutes until the tops are delightfully browned.  (The Slow Roasted Italian recommends 7-9 minutes, but I wanted a bit more brown on mine.)

Serve with your choice of sauce or mustard or cheese for dipping/spreading.

Muffin Approved

The Recipes for Date Night (Roasted Fowl and Poached Pears): The Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge

New Recipe Challenge

I am going to do another date night post, but I figured I would include the recipes that I cooked as part of a separate challenge post.  Both recipes I had my doubts about, but turned out superstar! fabulous (think the Molly Shannon skit and movie–I feel like doing that superstar! move after eating both).

I will explain the rationale behind each tomorrow in my date night post, but here is the lusciousness (as it seems date night is in two parts):

Roasted Fowl

Adapted from Wired.com’s Geek Mom

6 chicken legs (but this recipe would rock the clock of any chicken parts–yes!  it’s that good)

olive oil

fresh rosemary leaves/needles, minced

basil, dried

oregano, dried

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

(I am not listing amounts for the seasonings because I put a random–nearly equal–amount of each in a bowl and sprinkled and rubbed my heart out)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Give the chicken legs a shower in the sink and path them dry with paper towels.  You want them as dry as possible at this point.  Think kale leaf dry.  On second thought, forget the kale chip disaster all together.

Rub the chicken legs with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle with the seasoning mixture (I did roughly a teaspoon of each).  You want them to be really seasoned.

Line your half-sheet pan with foil.  Spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  For an aromatic touch of whimsy, I placed a spring of rosemary in the center of the pan.  Place the drumsticks in the pan.  Bake for 45-55 minutes (or longer), turning halfway through so that more sides become golden brown and delicious.  The chicken is done logistically when the juices run clear.  Remember that dark meat is cheaper and more forgiving heat-wise than chicken breasts that tend to dry out fairly quickly.

Serve warm or cold.

Verdict:  This chicken was loved by all.  I would love to try it with thighs (my favorite selection of chicken) next time.  Date night spoiler:  this tasted VASTLY BETTER than the chicken I had that time at Medieval Times (although Josh insists we need to take Muffin).


Red Wine Poached Pears

Adapted from:  About.com

5 peeled, cored, and sliced pears (I used Anjou), fairly ripe (but not necessarily to the point of eating out of hand)

1 1/2 cups red wine (I used an Australian Shiraz that I purchased on clearance at Albertson’s for $2.99–a $10 wine!  Yay!)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

zest of one lemon (small)

2 tablespoons lemon juice (I used two small Sunkist lemons)

2 teaspoons vanilla (although I wonder what a vanilla bean would have done to this)

2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground

Combine all ingredients, except pears, and bring to a boil.  Once the wine mixture is boiling, turn heat down to a simmer and add the pears (two pears at a time).  Simmer until they turn a shade of red that makes you happy (10-12 minutes before turning them and cooking for an additional 8010 minutes).  Remove pears and let them cool.  Boil the wine sauce until the liquid is reduced by half.  Avoid the overwhelming dictate by your taste buds to down the entire contents of the wine sauce.  Take a taste (to make sure it’s yummy).  Take another taste.  Ignore the voices telling you to down it all.  Pour sauce over pears and serve over ice cream.  Make sure that you spoon extra sauce on the ice cream and pears because that’s the best part.

Verdict:  I want to bathe in the sauce.  Seriously.  Or make sorbet from it.  Its siren’s song is calling me now.  Josh liked it over ice cream, but he felt that the taste of the poaching liquid was too strong by itself.  Whereas I could guzzle the sauce all down.  It might be good as a soda.  Or as a topping for the Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug.  Or by itself.  Really it’s worthy of anything.  I think it could do wonderful things to ham, in fact.  Did I mention that I ❤ the sauce?  It makes me happy.

So, date night spawned two great, repeatable dishes (even in different contexts).  I consider that a success!

The Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge: Breakfast

New Recipe Challenge

I have a confession to make.  Make that two confessions.

Confession #1:  There may not be any more of the Homemade Hamburger Buns left in the house.  Oopsie!  But don’t be sad; they met their just desserts.  (Haha!  Just desserts!)

Confession #2:  I think I just put the best thing ever in my mouth for breakfast.

Are you ready for it?

I don’t think you are.

If your sure…

Okay.  Here goes!

Mounds 2-Minute Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Cup!

The hamburger buns really did get their just desserts!  Josh, who pooh-poohed this recipe last night when I was gushing on the blog, now has his add-ons he wants to try (after being all “I just want maple syrup and cinnamon and powdered sugar on it.”) and even grudgingly agreed to a sprinkling of chocolate chips before it went into the microwave..

I love this method because you can literally dress it up or down as much as you wish.  If you leave out the vanilla and sub in black pepper for the cinnamon, the savory options are endless!

And just to gush again:  this recipe is done in the microwave.  Meaning your kitchen does not get heated in the summer.  Just sayin’.  Sometimes air conditioners can’t keep up with Louisiana summers (especially if the oven is on).

Here’s what I did for 2 1/2 servings (the half was Muffin’s).  I changed it up a bit from Pretty Prudent/Prudent Baby.

2-Minute Frenchy Toast Bread Pudding in a Cup

Adapted from Pretty Prudent/Prudent Baby

Around 5-6 cups torn bread of your choice (I used the remaining Homemade Hamburger Buns)

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup plus one tablespoon dairy (milk, half-n-half, cream, coffee creamer)–We used 2% because that’s what we have.

cinnamon to taste

1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the caviar of one-half of a vanilla bean (if you are feeling particularly decadent)

Any extra sauces, syrups, mix-ins, add-ins, or toppings

powder sugar to dust the tops with

Melted butter to grease your cup (I forgot this for Muffin’s and Josh’s and did for mine.  The beeping microwave reminded me that there was butter in there for the second day in a row.  They didn’t stick at all, but I imagine that mine tasted the best because it was buttery.)

In a bowl, tear the bread.  (I want to try croissants next time with dark chocolate chips and chunks to mimic my favorite breakfast bread item at Central Market, chocolate filled croissants)  I tore mine into fairly small chunks.  Mix the eggs, dairy, cinnamon, and vanilla (I will update when I try a savory one) in a separate container.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the bread.  I mixed it with my hands to best judge how the bread absorbed the liquid.

If you are adding nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate (any add-ins that need to be added to the whole batch before cooking), mix these in by hand as well.

Transfer the mixture to the cup(s) of your choice. I layered mine a bit putting a couple of tablespoons of bread, pressing them down a bit, drizzling maple syrup, sprinkling with sweetened shredded coconut, and sprinkling with chocolate chips before layering on another half a cup and drizzling with maple syrup.  I filled the cup the rest of the way with bread, tamped it down, and drizzled on more syrup.  I layered Muffin’s with maple syrup.  I layered Josh’s with maple syrup and sprinkled on a few chocolate chips before microwaving.  For Muffin’s half cup, I microwaved the mixture for a minute (and the egg was done).  Josh’s, loosely packed in the container, took one-and-a-half minutes.  My packed cup took two minutes.  For service, I dusted powdered sugar on the tops of each, sprinkled Muffin’s with chocolate chips, and sprinkled mine with chocolate chips and coconut.

We ate this with sausage patties (not homemade and again I found the processed patties that I had previously gobbled down lustily to be salty, gristly, and tasteless) and strawberries (WalMart had 2 pounds of strawberries for under $4).

Want a bite?

Too bad!  You’re going to have to go make your own.

I also want to try my sister’s recipe for bread pudding, scaled down (and minus the raisins) but with the lovely sauce.

This just in:  We have pears growing on the trees!  Both trees!  Just last week one of our trees had beautiful blooms like this:

And now the blooms are going away with little burgeoning pear-letts behind them!  Yay!  Hopefully we will have more than three pears this year (that Muffin eats all of).

The Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge Day 7: One Whole Week and Possibly the Best Recipe Tried So Far

New Recipe Challenge

My son is a carnivore.  He’s also a fruititarian.  He can eat a pound of strawberries in one sitting and move onto several other varieties of fruit.  In.  One.  Sitting.  He also likes his carbs.

No.  You don’t get it.  He LOVES carbs.  Gluten free, we are not.  I’m fairly sure that gluten threads make up some of his tendons (and mine).

Today’s recipe offering was a last-minute find.  I made Homemade Hamburger Buns from Life in the Lofthouse (Life as a Lofthouse) that I discovered while cruising blogs for recipes.  I found enough for several dozen recipe challenges.  I started EARLY this morning (like right as Josh was leaving), putting ingredients in the Kitchen Aid.  If anything, this recipe proves that three things are indispensable in the kitchen:  a Kitchen Aid stand mixer (which has gotten a hefty workout this week–and will continue to through the weekend), half sheet pans with lips (thank you, Pioneer Woman for steering all of us to the necessity of these), and parchment paper.  I ❤ parchment paper.  Sometimes I want to wrap up in it and sleep in it…um…did I just admit that?  Seriously.  My love of parchment paper knows no bounds.  It saves my tush when making truffles in the fall/winter.

I would like to say that you could also spray the pan with Pam and be okay (and that you can use a cookie sheet).  You could also mix up the dough by hand and place it in a ziptop bag and allow you or your young’uns to take their frustrations out on the bag-o-dough.  For seven minutes.

When Muffin saw the buns are perfectly risen and brushed with butter (and so delightfully puffy), he started to snatch one off of the pan, and which point, I screamed in my wicked witch voice, “Don’t!!!  You’ll deflate the buns!!!”  Seriously.  It was causing full panic.  I had visions of hockey pucks instead of puffs of yeasty goodness (that’s happened a few times when I’ve made rolls…it’s very sad–deflation from being pressed by a human hand–usually mine, by accident).

So, Muffin waited impatiently for the 18 minutes to bake (the oven wasn’t entirely up to temp when I made it, so I went for the full 18 minutes), then for me to brush them with butter, then for them to cool to the point that slicing one open wouldn’t burn my fingers.  He ate half of one while it was still warm!

Then, while I was munching on the second half, he came back and asked for more.  So, after eating less than half of my half, I had to relinquish my bun to Muffin.  Which he devoured.  Seriously.  Like birds of prey devouring carrion.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.  Then, he wanted another “tasty bread,” as he called it.  To say this recipe was Muffin Approved is kind of an understatement.  (I must add that it is perhaps my favorite recipe that we’ve tried so far, and Josh, who came home for lunch, liked it, too.

Lunch was the leftover halved Monterey Chicken breasts made into a sandwich with the “tasty buns.”  These buns were this chicken’s correct destination of serving.  I liked the chicken when we had it; don’t get me wrong.  But if I had eaten on one of these buns first and then eaten it as a chicken breast by itself, I wouldn’t have liked it, if that makes any sense.  Of course, it photo bombs very humbly (in fact, it doesn’t prefer the limelight), but it’s beautiful on the inside.  And tastes absolutely fantastic amazing.  If I had purchased store brand buns, this sandwich would have been a disappointment.  Trust me on this:  if you make the Monterey Chicken into a sandwich, you need to make these buns.  Don’t let this sandwich be a disappointment, please.

I’m going to include my process below, but for the truly beautiful photographs of the buns, please visit the original recipe posting.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Source:  Life in the Lofthouse

(I really like that you can dump it all in the mixer and just let it go, like the Artisan Bread).

1 egg (The original calls for it to be beaten, but I just cracked it in)

3 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)

1/4 cup granulated (white) sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon yeast (I used some from the Sam’s package–You save a lot of money if you buy yeast in bulk from Sam’s, if you do much baking at all)

1 cup warm tap water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit…when it feels like warmer than your body temperature bathwater, but it doesn’t scald your hand)

2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (10 seconds in the microwave if you didn’t have it set out) + 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Use your Kitchen Aid with your dough hook (or your upper body muscles) to combine the egg, flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and water.   Be reminded that you forgot the butter when the microwave keeps beeping (yes, this happened at 7:30 this morning while I was starting to watch the mixer knead the dough).  Dump the butter in while muttering expletives (“bumpers”).  I used the stir setting until it all came together and then kneaded on setting “4.”  If you are going to take the muscle power route, once all is incorporated, place your dough in a zip top bag and start beating it (kneading it) for the next 7 minutes.  You may need to take the dough out of the bag and fold it over a few times in the process.  The purpose is to have the surface soft, smooth, and elastic.

Butter or grease a large bowl (ceramic, if you have one), roll the dough around in the bowl, coating the surface, and let it rest (ball-like) in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel.  If it is a cool day, turn on your oven for 1 minute to make the oven a good “rising” spot.  If it is warm in your kitchen, simply let the dough hang out.  Regardless, you need to let the dough rise until doubled in size.  In my warmed oven, it took one hour.  The original recipe posting said 1 1/2 hours.

Line your pan with parchment paper or spray it with Pam or grease with shortening.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (the original poster recommends using a kitchen scale to weigh out 3.25 ounces of dough each, but my scale was MIA).  I used my best judgment and my rolly pizza cutter (the Zyliss-style one that Alton Brown used on Good Eats) to divide them in a “rustic” manner.  Make a smooth ball out of each piece by forming a loose gluten cloak (a la Artisan Bread) and smoothing the bottom.  Arrange each ball on the prepared pan with even (and hopefully generous) spacing between.  Flatten the balls gently with your hand so that they become hockey-puck shaped (at this point a bit of deflation is okay).

Warm them with the tea towel blanket and stash them again in the warmed oven.  Let them rise until they are puffy buns (around 40 minutes).  Mine were touching at this point, but the original pictures on Holly Lofthouse’s blog weren’t.

When the timer beeps, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brush the rolls with half of the melted butter.  Panic when they deflate a little.  More expletives.  Bake 18 minutes, checking to make sure that the tops don’t get too brown.  I like mine more on the light mahogany end, rather than golden.  Remove from the oven (inhale the yeasty goodness with a touch of sweet…contemplate a way to bottle the scent) and lavishly slather with the remaining butter…each little bun.  Make sure you show some butter love to the nooks and crannies.

The original recipe says to cool completely before serving.  That might work of you were carbphobic and gave birth to a carbphobic child.  Simply:  try not to burn your fingers too bad as you split this and eat part of your half while your ungrateful child gobbles his half and then demands the rest of yours.

Contemplate hoarding the rest or eating all of the buns immediately.

Serve with burgers or sandwich fixins.

I added to my cholesterol count today further at lunchtime when I slathered butter on the insides, placed the buns insides-down in a hot skillet, and griddle cooked them until slightly charred.  I spread the bottoms with mayo, topped with the warmed Monterey Chicken leftovers (added pickle slices to Josh’s and Muffin’s–I had my slices on the side), and topped with the other half of the bun.  Serve with “yellow” chips (original flavored potato chips).

It should be noted that Muffin ate his bun in its entirety at lunch and then begged for more tasty buns (and ate another half) immediately after lunch.

All of the ingredients (minus the butter…grrr) in the mixer bowl.

The sandwiches…being coy.

Did I mention that this recipe was Muffin Approved?

Muffin Approved

Day 5 of the Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge: Monterey Chicken and Others

New Recipe Challenge

Today was a pretty low-key day.  I spent time researching preschool home school options (My sister offered up excellent suggestions via Facebook text and when I talked to her on the phone today).  I spent time with Muffin, watching him play with trains and just be an almost-four-year-old boy.  Lots of snuggles and cuddles, as well (although no nap to speak of, except napus interruptus right around lunchtime).

I also (very quickly) prepped two components/ingredients for tomorrow’s meal (the Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops):  I made the Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup from Gimme Some Oven and the Homemade Ranch Seasoning also from Gimme Some Oven.  I left the buttermilk powder out of the Homemade Ranch Seasoning, so I will probably add a bit of “buttermilked” milk to the Crock Pot tomorrow.  Here are the pickies:

The cream of chicken.

The cream of chicken soup tasted spot on, and I love that it didn’t taste so chemically as the canned version has tasted lately.  Plus, I got to add in some of the Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken to it.  Bonus!  And one recipe makes two cans worth, and I needed to cans for the recipe tomorrow.  Did I mention that it was easy peasy?  Seriously.  Came.  Together.  Perfectly.

The ranch seasoning minus the buttermilk powder but with a bit of paprika thrown in for color.

It’s seriously a disease.  I can’t help but change a recipe up.  I’ve decided something must be wrong with me.  I would recommend using the link for the cream of chicken (because I actually followed that recipe verbatim, for once), but the ranch seasoning…well…I followed the cream of chicken recipe verbatim.  Here’s what I did:

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

Heavily adapted from Gimme Some Oven (Link above)

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons dried onion flakes

1 teaspoon ground black pepper (freshly ground!)

1 teaspoon dried chives, slightly crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika (I used Spanish)

Layer ingredients in an empty jar (I used an empty jelly jar that had previously held another recipe of ranch seasoning).  Cover and shake shake shake.

Gimme Some Oven suggests using 1 tablespoon mix with 1/3 cup mayo and 1/3 cup milk and whisking to combine.  I plan on adding in 1 tablespoon plus a bit of “buttermilked” milk tomorrow when I make the Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops.

But now, for the main event.  And if you notice the discrepancies between the Ranch seasonings, this is so much worse.

In my defense, I kept the ingredients the same.  I changed some of the amounts and definitely changed the process.  I would also make a few tweaks before next time.  I will say that this was another LFam Approved recipe.

Let me just write it as I did it.

Monterey Chicken

Heavily Adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff

2 huge boneless, skinless chicken breasts, excess skin and tendons removed, halved to make four moderate sized breast pieces

salt and pepper

barbecue sauce (The original recipe calls for one cup, but I probably put more on each piece)

8 pieces of bacon, cooked using the method described below, and broken in half

3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, hand shredded (or more until it makes things cheesy)

3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, hand shredded (I didn’t and I regretted it)

fresh diced tomatoes

diced green onions

A few notes and disclaimers:  Like the Pioneer Woman, I am becoming less inclined to use pre-shredded cheese, especially if it’s something that I wish to melt.  She’s right about most things, including that.  Pre-shredded simply does not melt as well.  I grated the Monterey Jack but not the cheddar, and I could tell the difference in meltability.  And yes, I know that isn’t a word.  But it should be.  That is not to say that grating cheese is my favorite kitchen chore.  It isn’t.  At all.  But it does produce better results.  Also, I tended to go with more is better in terms of barbecue sauce, cheese, tomato, and onions.  And while I know this is supposed to be a copycat of a Chili’s recipe (that I never consumed), I would probably want to add sauteed mushrooms somehow in one of the layers–maybe on top of the bacon.  Also, I used Kraft Honey barbecue sauce.  I wish I had used Garland Jack’s or Sweet Baby Ray’s.  Kraft products, in general, seem to be more processed than most, and rather than tasting barbecue sauce in the final product, I tasted Kraft chemicals.  (Can I please go back to the days when I thrived on processed foods?  Please?????)

But now to what I did.  I actually pre-baked the bacon a few hours in advance because I wanted to give it time to cool, drain, and stiffen up.  Limp bacon is not wanted here.  If it bends when you go to break it, you have not cooked it long enough.  And I baked mine.  Alton Brown swears by it as well as several other people in the Pinteresting Blogosphere.  And it produces flat, evenly cooked, bacon.  I’m a bit picky that way.  However, it takes 25 minutes to produce perfectly cooked thick-sliced bacon.  And I had to do it in two batches.  So keep that in mind if you are using this method.  On a lipped cookie sheet (size doesn’t matter) place a small baker’s rack (one that will fit inside the cookie sheet).  Arrange slices of raw bacon over the rack, taking care to ensure that they are not touching.  Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (remember to preheat) for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, take the bacon out and turn each slice.  Bake another 10 minutes.  Evacuate to a plate to drain and cool.  Once drained and cooled, break the bacon in half.

Reserve the bacon drippings for searing the chicken breasts (go ahead and pour them into the skillet you plan to use).

Gently pound the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness with a mallet or (if you cover the breasts with plastic or wax paper) your rolling pin.  Don’t mutilate the chicken, however.  This is not a project to take your road rage out on; just sayin’.  Season both sides of the breasts generously with salt and pepper and seal in a zippy bag for the seasonings to do some work.

When ready to continue the cooking process, heat the bacon over medium-high heat until hot.  Arrange chicken breasts in the pan (I fit three out of the four pieces).  Cover and sear for 3 minutes.  If you don’t cover, expect bacon fat splatters.  Trust me, they are not as much fun as confetti being thrown at your face and arms.  And they hurt a lot worse, too.  After three minutes, use your trusty spring loaded tongs to turn over the chicken.  The chicken may be stuck at this point.  Finesse it off of the pan with the tongs (Translation:  Scrape as hard as you have to to get the chicken off the pan so that it doesn’t burn).  Cover and wait three more minutes.  Realize as you notice the spatters on the lid how lucky and smart you were to cover the pan (because you would be wearing those spatters–it may have taken me the first half of the cooking process to realize I needed a lid).  Evacuate the chicken to a glass 9×13-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat with remaining chicken breast(s).

Pour (Glug) barbecue sauce over chicken.  The point here is flavor and coverage.  You want the maximum of both.  The barbecue sauce provides a grout for the bacon tiles to come.  Arrange the bacon artistically (you may have to break one of the halves into smaller pieces) over the chicken breasts, 4 bacon strip halves per breasts (a total of two complete bacon strips).  Cover with Monterey Jack and then with cheddar.  Here’s where I made a huge deviation from the original:  sprinkle liberally with the tomato and green onions.  Cover with foil.  Place in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  Uncover.  Turn your oven broiler to HI, and broil until the cheese bubbles on the surface (browning would be great here as well!).  Serve with Parmesan Garlic Toast and a salad.

And, since, I can’t leave you hanging in suspense, here is the “recipe” for Parmesan Garlic Toasts:

Parmesan Garlic Toasts

Source:  Me!

2 hot dog buns, split along the split and separated into four halves total

2 teaspoons margarine spread (or butter), softened

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes, crushed finely with the fingers

2 tablespoons grana padano (or another Parmesan-style cheese), grated with a Microplane grater/zester

Spread the “white innards” of the hot dog buns with the margarine spread or butter.  Sprinkle with garlic powder, pepper, and parsley flakes.  Grate the cheese directly over the buns until the surface resembles snow drifts (low, small snow drifts, but still…snow drifts).  Broil until the cheese is melted delightfully and the surface is browned.  Eat.  Repeat.

As the untoasted toasts entered the oven.

Garlicky, Parmesan toasty perfection!

There were leftovers.  I could only eat about half a breast.  Other sources for the Monterey Chicken mention that it is served as a sandwich, so I cut the remaining breast pieces in half and plan to make sandwiches with them tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

How did your dinner plans go today?

The Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge Day 4: Quick and Easy Cheeseburger Pies and Hamburger Topping Salad

New Recipe Challenge

Half of today’s dinner challenge holds a special nostalgic component for me.  Years ago, when I would eat school lunches in the cafeteria, they would serve burgers (of questionable patty components).  While I ate the burgers, I was most fascinated by what was on the side.  They always served a “salad” on the side (that I’m pretty sure was meant to go on the burger, but I ate it on its own) with lettuce, diced tomato, onion, and one or two pickle slices all in a watery mayonnaise dressing.  Sounds disgusting when you hear the description, but it tasted the BEST!

When I decided to add the Quick and Easy Cheeseburger Pies from Pocket Change Gourmet to the challenge, I decided to tackle a remake of the salad.  Instead, Muffin ended up making it.  Today he has been my sous chef on pretty much every dish (except for the pies themselves).

Hamburger Topping Salad

4-5 large iceberg lettuce leaves (the ones beneath the two large lettuce leaves), torn by hand into consumable bites

3/4 cup finely diced onion

1/2-3/4 cup finely diced tomato

6-8 dill pickle slices (hamburger chips), diced

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons pickle juice (from the jar of dill chips)

pepper to taste

pinch of sugar

Note:  Approach this like a marinated vegetable salad.  The lettuce will wilt; that’s part of its charm.  Layer the first four ingredients in a salad bowl (or have your almost-four-year-old sous chef do so).  In a Pyrex-style measuring cup (1-, 2-, or 4-cup is fine), slowly whisk pickle juice into mayonnaise with a fork (drizzle it in slowly to avoid lumps).  It should be the consistency of cream or creamy cole slaw dressing when you finish.  Crack in pepper to taste (freshly ground only).  Add a pinch of sugar and whisk again with a fork.  Pour over salad and slowly turn the salad so that the leaves are moistened.  The dressing will sink to the bottom, which is okay because you are going to re-turn the salad before serving.

The ketchup-and-mustard-decorated items above were the main dish…the Quick and Easy Cheeseburger Pies.  Of course, Muffin’s plate was more picturesque.

But then, he didn’t eat the salad he prepared.  He was saving space for ‘Zert, but that’s another story.  He ate the pickles and the pie though.  Josh ate four of the pies, and I ate two.  These were definitely an LFam Approved meal (and the pies were Muffin Approved).

I had originally planned to double the batch and freeze the leftovers for other meals or work lunches, but I decided to do a trial run first.  I do know this:  I can see myself trying other variations:  meatball sub pies with meaty spaghetti sauce, taco pies with taco meat and cheese, and the like.  I like this method, and I like the fact that it was a muffin meal.  And a Muffin meal.

But here’s how the dynamic duo at Pocket Change Gourmet recommended doing it:

Quick and Easy Cheeseburger Pies

Meat Mixture

1 pound ground beef (I used some that we ground on the Meat Factory Bee-Sheen, according to Muffin, the other day)

1 cup onion, chopped finely

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (I used a bit more because I was finishing up a bottle)

1 teaspoon garlic salt (I used 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (The next time I make it I made extra and sprinkle it on the top)

Baking Mixture
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 cup biscuit baking mix (I used Pioneer brand buttermilk baking mix)
4 eggs
Brown ground beef with onion over medium heat.  I like my meat mashed up really fine, so I really worked the arm muscles with this batch.  This batch must have come from the Eye of Round roast because there was very little fat in the mixture.  If there is a lot of fat, once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, drain the mixture.  Cool the mixture for five minutes.  I took this opportunity to whisk together the baking mixture in a mixing bowl with a fork.  I worked really hard to remove the lumps (again with the arm muscles).  After cooling the meat mixture for five minutes, add in the remaining ingredients and stir.  The cheese will start to melt and the mixture will become gooey.  This is good.  I took this opportunity to preheat my oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin pan (you will need a 12-cup tin) with cooking spray.  As my muffins mounded out of their cavities, I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND making sure the area around each muffin cup is sprayed, as well.  Learn from my mistake.  Trust me.  I really liked how Pocket Change Gourmet gave exact measurements for filling the muffin cavities (rather than 2/3 full or 1/2 full as some recipes state).  You begin by placing one tablespoon of baking mixture in each cavity.  Follow that with 1/4 cup (or just shy of 1/4 cup) of the meat mixture.  Then seal the deal with another tablespoon of baking mixture over each cavity of meaty goodness.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Loosen the pies from the pan with a knife and serve with ketchup, mustard, pickles, tomatoes, any toppings you desire, and/or the Hamburger Topping Salad.
Muffin likes his with ketchup and mustard on top and pickles on the side.  I like mine with ketchup and mustard on top and Hamburger Topping Salad on the side.  Josh likes his with ketchup and mustard on the side for dipping with Hamburger Topping Salad.
As I said, this recipe was definitely Muffin Approved.  Next time I will definitely be doubling and freezing the portions.
Muffin Approved
What was on your dinner plate tonight?