Happy Mother’s Day to ME!

When I was a little girl, we always went to Skyway East for special dinners. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Anniversaries, Promotions; you get the picture. Because I am such a creature of habit, I always (even now at 28 years old) would order the same meal. Deep fried shrimp with the salad bar and a twice baked potato. Skyway was one of those places when I was little where my brother and I were sure to be the only children in the dining room and we always had to dress up. I loved that they would have your name engraved on the matchboxes at your table and there was a cheese ball on the salad bar. But all that was nothing compared to the anticipation I felt upon ordering my twice-baked potato. I love the way the filling is creamy and cheesy and sometimes even piped in a nifty pattern. Over the years, I’ve made some fairly pathetic attempts at making twice baked potatoes or even purchased them from the (gasp!) freezer case, but nothing has compared to that memory. When Matt and I first started dating, I thought it would be fun to take him out to eat at Skyway. Not only was I disappointed to see that people now wear jeans there, but the waitress was rather snotty when telling me that they had “never” served twice baked potatoes in her 20 years of service. She’s wrong. I haven’t been back since. For Mother’s Day, I wanted beef brisket and potatoes. I got them. I made 8 potatoes, which is equal to 16 servings… all that is left from these potatoes are the 2 halves I put in the freezer last night. I might just hide them… they’re that good.

Twice Baked Potatoes

4 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed thoroughly and poked with a fork
3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 c. minced chives
1 1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. sour cream
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper

Bake the potatoes for about an hour (or until a fork easily pokes into the flesh) at 400 degrees. When they are done cooking, allow them to cool to a comfortable temperature before slicing them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inner flesh of the potato and mix it with the butter, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add in the sour cream, cheese, chives and bacon. You can either mix the filling together with a sturdy spoon or use a hand mixer on a lower setting until the potatoes are fairly smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated. Using a large spoon, scoop the filling back into the potato skins, mounding it nicely. (If you have time and a large enough piping tip, you can pipe the filling as a fancier option.) Once all the potatoes are filled, bake them at 500 degrees for 15 minutes. This recipe makes enough to serve 8 people.

I made mine the night before and refrigerated them over night, putting them in a oven for a full half hour before we ate. I made a double recipe and ate more of the potatoes than I ate the brisket. And that adorable baby? He ate a potato, brisket, asparagus, and his first taste of watermelon. All that and a few hours later, he demolished another potato. It’s a winner!
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Nutri-grain do over

I had this recipe and the two cookie recipes all typed out and ready to go earlier in the week.  Then my 10 month old decided that my SD card adapter for the computer was his next task for destruction and I didn’t have any photos to go with my posts.  Matt brought me a new adapter the other night, but things have been super hectic this week in our house so I am just now sitting down to publish my work from the week… 11 pm on a Saturday night.  Now, I told you that story but have no photos to show for my efforts on this recipe.  I have made these bars 7 times in the last month, tweaking the recipe a little more each time.  One would think that as much as I’ve made it, I’d have something to show from at least one of the tries, right?  Nope.  It gets eaten far too quickly!

Breakfast is a real challenge for me.  I don’t like it.  It takes up entirely too much of my valuable productive time in the morning and I totally resent it.  However, Liam is a huge fan.  In fact, it’s his biggest meal of the day followed by dinner.  Now that he is eating essentially 100% table foods, sitting down to eat with him makes breakfast a little less burdensome.  I just can’t get into pureed avocado in the morning, although I am in the process of a post on all the things I’ve learned with the pureeing and feeding of homemade baby food.

Anyway, I found this recipe on another blog and posted about it on my old blog.  I’ve since adapted it further so that it’s healthier and has less sugar… I’m not about to set something with lots of sugar in front of a already very busy little guy!  Liam loves this.  I can’t break the bars up fast enough for him!  I started out cutting it into little bit size pieces, but he is now adept enough with feeding himself, that I cut it into slices and he mashes it into his mouth.  I’m a huge fan as well, but I’m far neater when I eat.

Breakfast Crumb Bars

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. wheat germ
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. oats
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp.baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pieces

These ingredients form your crust and crumb for the bars.  I have no sophisticated method for mixing them together, I simply dump all the ingredients into the bowl of my mixer and turn it on.  The machine works everything until there’s a nice crumb about the size of a pea and then, I stop mixing.  I remove 2 1/2 c. of the mixture and press it into the bottom of a buttered 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish.  This is then baked for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.  In the meantime, I make the filling.

  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 pound of fruit
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

(It should be noted that I have had more fun playing with the fillings for these bars than I did when I was learning to make cheesecakes!  I have made strawberry-rhubarb, blackberry, red raspberry and apple/cream cheese fillings.  Oh!  I just looooove trying variations!)  This batch of ingredients is dumped into a sauce pan and cooked together.  On my recipe card, the note I made was to achieve a “compote-y” consistency.  I like to have a smoothish filling, but still some of the structure of the fruit is there for contrast.  Once you are pleased with the consistency of the filling, pour it over the crust and top it with the remaining crumb mixture.  Finish by baking it for an additional 40 minutes.  The longest this recipe has kept has been a week, sealed in a container in the fridge.  The shortest was 20 minutes at a brunch.  It’s a winner!

Soft Sugar Cookies

This isn’t so much a new recipe as a revelation.  I love sugar cookies, but sometimes, I don’t want a crisp, iced disk.  I want something that is soft and a little on the fluffy side.  So off I went in search of that.  I’ve been fighting with recipes and eating far too many cookies, when it occurred to me last week while I was weeding.  What if I tweaked my Snickerdoodle recipe?!  I’m such an over thinker!  Good grief, here I’ve been wanting a cookie that is the snickerdoodle, just without the dusting.  Although, now that I’ve typed that out, I don’t know why on earth anyone would want snickerdoodle with out the dusting… Anyway.  Here’s another cookie recipe for you to enjoy!

 

  • 2/3 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Cream together the butter and the sugar.  Add in the egg, followed by the vanilla.  Mix together the dry ingredients and incorporate them thoroughly.  Lay out some plastic wrap on the counter and put the dough on it.  Form the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the dough up and chill for 30-45 minutes in the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Slice the chilled dough into 1/4 inch thick disks and arrange them on a lined baking sheet so that they are not touching.  This cookie doesn’t really spread, so you don’t have to keep them too far apart on the pan.  Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Enjoy with a cold glass of milk.

Comforting Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Was your mom a cookie baker?  Did she perfect pies?  Or was she the go-to lady for cakes?  One would have thought based on the huge cookie jar on our counter that my mother was a cookie lady.  She was not.  She liked cakes.  Now, given that she baked them in a home with 2 teenagers, it worked out ok.  My husband works all day and really isn’t into cake… so it sits on the counter and taunts me all day.  I don’t bake cake all that often.  And when I do, I give as much away as possible.  However, cookies are not only safer, but you can hide them in the freezer adn forget about them.  I have always envisioned myself as the type of mom who would pack an awesome brown bag lunch with a neat treat inside.  Or the mom who always had cookies available for when friends came over.  Those cookies would cause my children and their friends to feel loved and safe in my home.  Our home would become a refuge and everyone would know where they could go, no matter what happened that day.  This is all beautiful and idyllic, but I do not have the innate ability to be that mom.  Mainly because cookies are out of my scope of culinary skills.  Matt loves chocolate chip cookies, but for the entirety of our marriage, I’ve made them mostly from bagged mixes or those horrible tubes of dough in the freezer case at the grocery.

I’ve been testing cookie recipes for months… the waistband on my pants condemns me on a daily basis.  If I am going to eat a cookie, I want it to be soft and chewy in the center and crisp around the edges.  I want it to be a comfortable size and not too sweet.  Matt doesn’t quite agree, but I’m the one doing the baking, so he can just eat the experiments and hope I decide to make the monstrosity he considers to be a serving size with the left over batter.  Also, in the case where there are bits of chocolate, I don’t want chips, I want chunks.  There is something about a rugged hunk of chocolate that melts in your mouth compared to a bit of uniformly shaped chocolate.  If I were the type to drink milk with my cookies, I think it would be perfect with these.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

  • 2 cups flour (you can use half white and half whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 c. Chocolate chunks

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with either parchment paper or a silpat.  Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Slowly add in the eggs and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Add in the dry ingredients until there are no streaks and everything is fully incorporated.  Then mix in the chocolate by hand.  Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before forming the cookies.  Using a small ice cream scoop, take 2 scoops of the dough and form it into a ball.  Place each of the balls of dough about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets and pat down gently.  Bake for 15-17 minutes.  Makes about 2 dozen medium sized cookies.