Chicken Taco Stew

I think that I’ve mentioned this before on here, but because it’s relevant to this post/recipe I’ll say it again: I don’t like soup.

I never really have, even as a child. I didn’t really know why back then. Now that I’m older and have embraced my love of my food, I have a very clear awareness of what I like, what I don’t like, and the reasons why. My reasons for disliking soup can be summed up in one word: consistency.

I just don’t like the consistency of soup. When I was a child I can remember never really liking Campbells’ soup from a can, but I can also remember holding a particular preference, even a like for Dinty Moore’s stews. Looking back, I can say that the preference came from the consistency of the food.

I never really liked having to ‘slurp’ my food, the way you would have to slurp a broth. In my mind, slurping has just always been for beverages and chewing has always just been for food; the lines between the two just don’t need to be blurred. I like my food to have texture, richness and ‘body’ to it; body is just something that to me, most soups are lacking. They lack heartiness to me. I’m never full after I eat them, and for that reason I don’t cook or eat them very much at all.

What does that have to do with today’s post? Well, in the spirit of full disclosure, the inspiration for the flavors of this recipe came from another recipe that some of you may have heard of: taco soup. I’ve seen it floating around mainly Pinterest and it’s become pretty popular as most iterations of it are low calorie, low fat and great for dieting. The flavors in taco soup are supposed to emulate eating a taco; a food that is safe to say, not low calorie or low fat. I like tacos, for sure; soup? Not so much.

So this is my riff, or rather, my improvement on taco soup: Chicken taco stew.

I can’t speak for how low carb, low fat or low whatever my taco stew is, y’all. That’s really not my ministry. What I CAN tell you, is that it is absolutely delicious.

I make the base of my stews to be rather thick and hearty. Again, it’s all about the consistency for me. In my mind, the perfect ‘broth’ of a stew can form a coating on the back of a spoon. The thicker and richer the base, the more I can appreciate the flavors of the food itself.

Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients here. It’s mostly seasoning, and the actual process of putting everything together is very straightforward and easy to follow. Combined with the heartiness of the base, the chicken and the beans, this is comfort food to the nth degree. It really is like eating a bowl of tacos that wrap you and your stomach up in a warm hug.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe.

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Chicken Taco Stew

Recipe from Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 5-6lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large or 2 mediums yellow sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • (2) 14.5 oz. cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • (2) 4 oz. cans diced green chiles
  • (1) 15 oz. can corn
  • (1) 15 oz. can black beans
  • (1) 15 oz. can pinto peans
  • (4) 1 oz. packets of taco or fajita seasoning
  • (1) 1 oz. packet of dried ranch dressing seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  •  64 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 cup water or milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Divide the cubed chicken into two 1 gallon sized plastic bags.

In a medium size bowl combine 2 cups of the flour with the onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, black pepper, and cinnamon. Stir together with a fork.

Evenly divide the flour mixture between the two ziploc bags. Seal tightly, then toss to coat thoroughly, so that there is an even layer over meat.

Coat the bottom of a large non-stick stockpot or Dutch Oven with a few tablespoons of canola, vegetable or olive oil. Brown the floured meat over high heat on the stovetop. Don’t worry about it cooking all the way through, just cook long enough to give it some color. When it’s browned, temporarily move the meat to a sheet pan. Don’t overcrowd the pot, you’ll have to repeat/do this in about 2-3 batches to get through all of the meat.

When you’re finished browning the meat, add a little bit more oil to the pot, then add the onions. Cook over medium heat until they’re softened and translucent, 5-10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pot and place them with the browned chicken.

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of flour into the pot. Allow it to cook over medium heat until it’s browned and smells toasty, about 3-5 minutes (don’t walk away from it, it can burn easily.)

Once you can smell it begin to toast, pour in the chicken broth, the diced tomatoes, green chiles, taco/fajita seasoning, ranch dressing seasoning, bay leaves, honey, and the water/milk. Use a wire whisk to stir to dissolve the flour clumps quicker.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Depending upon your taste preferences you may need to add a little more cumin, or onion powder too.  Allow it to cook for about 10 minutes, until it begins to thicken and the flavors begin to meld together.

Taste and adjust for seasoning, then add the chicken and onions back to the pot.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer stew, uncovered for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is fork tender.

Add the beans and the corn to the stew, stir with a large spoon and allow to cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with chips, salsa, sour cream, cilantro or melted cheese on top.

Linking this post to Fiesta Friday #355, co-hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook.

Giant Blueberry Bun

Hi y’all. What a week.

On the plus side, America made the right decision in our presidential election. No matter what that toddler says or whines on about, it was a clear, fair and decisive election, and he lost. We’re going to have our first woman, and woman of color Vice President. Those are all reasons to celebrate.

On the other hand… there’s everything else that’s happened in the election’s wake. I’ve fluctuated a lot between immense relief and immense apprehension over the past week. Cooking and baking has helped.

Now seems like a good time to announce that I do intend to resume my annual 12 Days of Christmas baking series for 2020. In my hiatus last year, I skipped it. That was a huge mistake. The holidays just didn’t feel the same to me and I realized that baking is an integral part of my holiday experience. It truly lifts my spirits, and in a year like 2020 I think that we all should be doing everything we can to lift those as high as we can. I’ve already gotten a headstart and I’m really excited about this year’s recipes. So stay tuned for that to kick off towards the latter end of the month.

Today’s recipe I’ve actually had in my drafts folder for a long time. It was one I made before my hiatus and never got around to posting, which is a shame because it’s really VERY good. As you can see, fresh blueberries are baked right into the dough, then they burst creating those lovely pockets of fruity goodness. I usually will ice a bread like this, but it was honestly good enough for us without it. The brown sugar inside gets exposed from the swirls and creates a delicious, textural sugary topping that’s plenty sweet enough on it’s own.

I also think that it would also be great to cube up the leftovers, leave them to dry out overnight, then make this into an AMAZING bread pudding. Just a suggestion.

One last thing. Y’all, know that this has been the year from Hell for so many reasons and that it’s still not over yet. I know that the holidays are coming up and that large family gatherings are the norm. But please. Please.

Don’t do it. Only leave the house if you absolutely need to, and social distance. Wear a mask. Things are as bad with this pandemic as they’ve ever been in the US and if we don’t all act responsibly and like sensible human beings with compassion for someone other than ourselves, they’re only going to get much much worse. This is not false hysteria or fear-mongering; this is science. I’ll say it again and I’m going to keep saying it:

Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe.

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Giant Blueberry Bun

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg

For Filling

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter which)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries

 

Directions

In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the butter with the milk over low heat until it reaches 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle yeast on top of the warm butter-milk mixture. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until yeast is proofed and frothy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large regular bowl) combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Beat the egg in a small bowl.

Add the butter-milk mixture and the beaten egg to the dry ingredients and use the paddle attachment (or a large fork) to stir just until combined. Switch to the dough hook (or continue using the fork). Continue to add flour to the dough in 1 cup increments.

Continue to add the flour in about 1 cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. (You may not need to use all the flour, this is dependent upon the time of year and your location).

Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour..

Place the dough in another greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm place for about an hour.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan or baking dish.

In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Make sure the remaining 1/2 cup of butter is softened.

Sprinkle flour on your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Lightly punch down and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Roll out the dough to a rectangle, around roughly 10 inches wide and 12 or more inches long.

Use a small spatula to spread the softened butter across the rolled out dough, leaving a one inch border all around the edge. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top of the butter; it will form a thick layer. Sprinkle the blueberries on top of that.

Starting from the shortest end closes to you, carefully roll the dough into a log. If any filling falls out, just tuck it back in. If the dough sticks to the counter, use a bench scraper to gently pry it up. When done rolling, pinch the dough to seal it closed. Dip a very sharp knife in water and gently, but swiftly, slice the log down its entire length, creating two halves with lots of layers (kitchen shears will work for this too.)

Turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Press the two halves together at the top, then twist the halves around each other, creating a spiral. Press the halves together again at the bottom. Wrap the braid into a round, courounne shaped loaf.

 Carefully lift the loaf into the center of the greased cake pan.

Cover it with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until puffy and risen, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake on center rack of oven for 15 minutes. Loosely cover with foil, and bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), about 1 hour more. (Check it early though, mine baked fast)

Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.

Linking up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #354, co-hosted this week by Liz@Spades, Spatulas & Spoons

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

I debated very seriously whether or not to do a post this week at all. In light of the tense and stressful circumstances in my country right now, I wondered if making a post about food would be tone-deaf, insensitive or whatever you want to call it. Apart of me still feels like it is.

On the other hand, the truth is that for me personally, finding ways to mitigate feelings of anxiety is to focus upon things that make me feel happy, relaxed or at least distracted. Cooking is my sport, and a huge stress reliever for me– that includes posting on this blog.

One thing I knew I wasn’t going to do if I did post today was pretend as though the election wasn’t happening, that it didn’t matter, or that I don’t feel very strongly about who I wanted to win. If y’all have been following me for a while, you probably already know how I feel about it. My fingers are crossed, my breath is held, I’m knocking on wood, and hopefully we will be swearing in a new president come January 2021.

But regardless of what happens in this election, I’ve resolved to keep an attitude of trying to plan for the worst, hope for the best, and to keep my head up. Y’all try to do the same.

It’s now November, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean colder weather for everybody, around this time of year I still find myself craving stick-to-your-ribs comfort food.

There can’t be many foods that are more stick-to-your-ribs (and in my case, the hips, thighs and derriere) than biscuits and gravy. It’s such a simple but satisfying dish and I’m surprised it took me this long to get around to putting together a recipe for it.

Making sausage gravy really isn’t complicated. You probably have most of the ingredients that you need in your house already, and the whole thing comes together in little under an hour. Biscuits do take a tad bit more effort, but ohhhh how worth it that effort is for these.

I’m telling y’all, sour cream does godly (or ungodly depending on how you look at it) things to biscuits. They rise SO high, and still come out SO light and tender. I was ready for the best nap of my life after I finished eating this; isn’t that the best indicator for how comforting and delicious a dish is?

Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe.

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Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

Recipe from Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

For Sausage Gravy

  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 cups of milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 lbs ground pork sausage
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • salt (if needed, see note)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 bay leaf

For Biscuits

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3 cups self rising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • About 1/2 cup of buttermilk, plus more if needed

Directions

For Biscuits

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and brown sugar and stir together with a fork.

 Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the sour cream and buttermilk. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

For Sausage Gravy

Brown the sausage in a large skillet until no longer pink and formed into crumbles. Drain (but reserve the sausage grease!) and remove to a separate bowl.

In a large pot (I used my Dutch oven) over medium heat, pour in the flour. Stir with a metal spoon or spatula for about 1-2 minutes, just until you smell it start to toast. (Don’t let it get too brown, this is supposed to be a white gravy.)

Pour in the milk, water, oregano, sage, onion powder, black pepper and bay leaf.

(A thing to keep in mind: sausage is very salty on its own. In lieu of salt, I added a few tablespoons of the reserved sausage grease to the gravy so that it had both salt and meaty flavor. If you prefer to use salt, you can, but just be careful with how much you use.)

Bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring constantly until smooth. Lower heat to a simmer and allow to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, tasting and adjusting for seasoning. It should begin to thicken into a gravy-like consistency.

Pour in the reserved sausage, stir and turn the heat down to low, allowing to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Split the biscuits in half and serve with the gravy spooned on top.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #353

Butter Pecan Scones

Butter pecan is one of those flavors that draw a line in the sand with people’s taste buds.

They either absolutely love it or they absolutely hate it.

I’ve even seen it become an age debate; supposedly, ‘old people’ like butter pecan while for the young folks, it’s a no go.

I don’t know what kind of logic goes into that argument. But I guess that makes me old, guys. Cause I’ve always loved butter pecan. Roasted pecans and rich vanilla flavored butter is my kind of carrying on. Outside of cake batter, I’d say that butter pecan was my favorite ice cream flavor. It’s so simple, but still so rich and divine.

Typically butter pecan is a flavor that is reserved for ice cream. I haven’t seen it pop up in too many other recipes. This past week I was trying to decide what to make for brinner and although I decided upon scones, I wanted to do a little something different with them that I could share here on the blog.

I knew that I had some unused pecans in the pantry that I wanted to use up (nuts are way too expensive to waste) but I didn’t want to just throw them into a regular scone dough and call it a day. Because I’m extra like that.

Adding pecans to a recipe doesn’t make it butter pecan. You have to create those rich, warm, vanilla flavors to go along with the nutty goodness.

Rich and warm flavor brings one thing to my mind.

And thus, the browned butter chronicles continue on Cooking is My Sport.

 

I’ve said before that there are very few ways of improving upon butter; browning it is one of them. Browned butter creates a rich, warm and nutty flavor to it that I thought would be perfect for a butter pecan flavored scone. After browning the butter, I froze it, just like I do with all of my biscuit/scone recipes. From there, I went with my usual formula.

In lieu of white sugar, I used brown to give it extra caramel-y flavor. I added sour cream along with buttermilk because in the first place, it really gives the dough a tender texture that is needed, as the nuts soak up a lot of the moisture from the buttermilk.

These came out even better than I expected them to while they were baking, filling the house with all kinds of wonderful aromas. They’re not overly sweet, but that buttery, pecan flavor sure does come through. I are mine sliced in half, toasted with a smear of pumpkin butter. It was absolutely delicious.

(As a brief but very important aside, if you live in the United States, please exercise your right to vote in the upcoming election. We can’t have four more years of this; we just cannot.)

Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe.

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Butter Pecan Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar (preferably dark, but light will work fine too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 to 2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cups buttermilk* (The amount of milk to use is going to vary depending upon the time of year and the location you’re in because of the varying moisture levels in the air. I always start with one cup, then gradually add more as I deem fit).

Directions

For browned butter:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Let it cook and watch it closely until 3-5 minutes until the butter begins to foam, forms a golden brown color and browned bits form on the bottom. (It will have a sweet, nutty smell). Immediately remove it from the heat. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then place butter in a small bowl, and freeze until solid, about 2 hours.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar and stir together with a fork.

 Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Add the pecans. Stir with a fork.

In a small bowl combine the eggs with the vanilla extract and stir until the yolks are broken. Set aside.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg mixture and sour cream and buttermilk. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the scones will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut scones to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, 18 to 23 minutes. You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

(Linking up to Fiesta Friday #352)

Cortadillo Mexicano (Mexican Pink Cake)

Hi everyone.

It’s been…a while, hasn’t it?

The last time I posted I had just turned thirty and was sharing my birthday cake with y’all, which had become a yearly tradition for me on the blog.

By now I’ve already turned thirty one and SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED in the past year, both in my personal life and in the world.

Many of you that follow this blog are bloggers are yourselves, so I don’t really have to explain to you that this is more than just a passing hobby; it takes up a lot of time and effort. Last fall at around the time of my last post, I was making a huge move and a taking lot of new steps that ate up a LOT of my time. I wanted to still be able to blog, but with the less and less free time I had, the more my priorities just had to shift.

But the truth is, I missed it. I missed it a lot. Cooking is still a sport for me, but doing it without blogging took more of the joy & pleasure out of it that I got before than I expected. I wasn’t looking for, or trying out new recipes or techniques. I wasn’t taking my time with it. Cooking became something I was only doing because we had to eat and eating out all the time is expensive and not feasible.

I missed cooking and baking for much than just because I had to eat; I missed cooking and baking to make me feel good–blogging provides that for me.

So over a year later, here I am. I’m going to re-shift my priorities again to try and make room for this blog and that ‘feel good’ place of cooking that I needed much more than I realized.

My birthday was nearly a month ago, but hey: why not still celebrate with cake?

There are dozens if not more of Mexican panaderias around where we live. I’ve been meaning to experiment with some of the delicious and pretty desserts I’ve seen displayed inside some of them myself for a while now, and today’s recipe was always one of them.

Mexican Pink Cake is actually a light and spongy vanilla cake that’s spread with pink frosting and sprinkles. I’ve seen some that are filled with jam, but I kept mine pretty simple, which is how I’ve often seen it done in panaderias. And let me tell y’all, it couldn’t be easier; there’s no need for mixers, creaming butter and sugar, or even multiple bowls. I had this baby put together and in the oven within 15 minutes. It was done in a less than an hour.

If you’re scared of baking or just need a super quick and painless but still delicious dessert to throw together, then this is it. Apart from that, isn’t it preeeeetty?

Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe. 

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Cortadillo Mexicano (Mexican Pink Cake)

Recipe Adapted from Karen’s Ordinary Life

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk

For Frosting

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • red or pink food coloring
  • nonpareil sprinkles

Directions

For Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with parchment paper or spray thoroughly with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the baking powder and the salt and stir a few times with a fork. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract together with a wire whisk or a fork.

Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately to the sugar-eggs mixture, starting and ending with the flour.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and tap it a few times against the counter top to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

For Frosting

Cream butter until it is fluffy, then sift and mix in powdered sugar, one cup at a time.

Add the vanilla, the food coloring and 1 tablespoon of the milk. You may not need to add all the milk, it depends upon your preference for how stiff or loose you want the icing to be. 

Spread it over the cake with a spatula. Add the sprinkles.

Linking this post to Fiesta Friday #351, co-hosted this week by  Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Apple Cider Pound Cake

It’s that time of year again.

Even though I live on the West Coast and the seasons don’t really ‘change’ here, late September is the time of year that I finally start to accept that autumn is upon us and that I can and should start baking those autumn flavored foods.

Oh yeah. Late September is also my birthday.

I turn thirty today y’all. 3-0.

It’s not that I think 30 is old, but it feels weird that I’ve reached it. I have literally no idea where the last decade went. It’s been a whole lot of change and transition. I can honestly say I never would foresaw any of it. But I am grateful. My 20s were…something lol. I’m looking forward to 30 hitting much differently.

My birthday usually passes by without very much fanfare. But for the past few years, I have given myself a tradition/present of baking myself a birthday cake. I had a little less time this year to go all out than I did last year, but I still wanted my cake, so I just went with something nice and easy–but still delicious.

If there’s one thing that autumn put me in the mind of and the mood to have, it’s apple cider. I’m a Midwestern girl, so cider mills, cider and apple cider donuts and the like are a huge part of my childhood. It feels weird if I go without them. This year for my 30th birthday on the West coast, I thought I would give myself a present that would remind me of the Midwest.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve seen that I have a huge interest in making a bunch of variations on pound cake. It’s a Blank Canvas recipe; wonderful on its own, even better the more flavor variations you can give to it.

This pound cake is flavored with all of the autumn spices, as well as one full cup of apple cider. The smells alone while it baked reminded me of being back in the Midwest. After it finished baking, I rubbed it with a cinnamon sugar coating. It’s that cinnamon sugar coating that really made me feel as though I was biting into a denser, richer apple cider donut. It’s truly delicious.

Happy autumn to all, and Happy 30th to me.

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Apple Cider Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 10-16 cup Bundt pan.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, spices, salt and baking powder and stir together with a fork. Set aside. Combine the apple cider with the vanilla extract in a small bowl, set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a large bowl and a hand-held one, cream together the butter and flour until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula in between.

Add the flour and the apple cider mixtures alternately the the egg-butter mixture. Start and end with the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Pour and spread the batter in the bundt pan. Lift and tap the pan against the countertop a couple of times in order to prevent air bubbles while baking. Place the bundt pan on a sheet pan.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven, for about 50-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine baked fast, so check it early, especially if you have a gas stove) Cakes are done at an inner temp of 195F-200F.

Transfer cake to cooling rack set inside baking sheet and cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert directly onto cooling rack.

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating: Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle warm cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto sides.

Cool cake completely for about one hour before serving with whipped cream or ice cream.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #295, co-hosted this week by the wonderful Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Lemon Ginger Sweet Rolls

When you’re the unofficial ‘designated cook/baker’ in your house, a part of the job is cooking to suit the tastebuds of your audience. Special requests excluded, it’s not all about you; gotta feed everybody. Plus, there’s no point in making something that you have to to eat all by yourself (I also can’t really afford to do that).

I think I’ve mentioned here before that my sister doesn’t like cinnamon rolls. I do. But I’m willing to compromise. So I’m always having to find and bake alternatives that satisfy both our tastebuds. This was one of them. Because one thing she does love is citrus, this was another.

Recently I’ve been doing a bit more baking with lemon and really enjoying it. Even though we’re in September and rapidly approaching fall, global warming has us still experiencing those intense summer temperatures. So it becomes a bit easier to still have a taste for the summer flavors, and we all know lemon is certainly one of them.

With my last citrus rolls, I went with a combination of orange, ginger and cardamom to great results. This time around, I only needed to make a couple of adjustments. Ginger and lemon is a classic flavor combination, so I decided to really go for it here.

The dough is flavored with lemon and ground ginger, but for the curd filling I decided to go ahead and add minced crystallized ginger, just to give it that added spiciness. You can always buy crystallized ginger from the store, but my personal recommendation is for you to just make it yourself. It’s easy, cheap, and you get more bang for your buck. There’s a tutorial on my Instagram page if you’re interested.

I mean, what can I really say about these y’all? You’ve got eyes. The lemon in both the dough and the lemon filling keeps the flavors fresh and sharp. The icing on top (that is perfectly optional by the way) of course adds sweetness, but then that ginger comes in to give it that spicy kick that offsets the sweet.

These are really, really, REALLY good and I don’t say that lightly. I did good.

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Lemon Ginger Sweet Rolls

Adapted from a Previous Recipe on Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 2 teaspoons active yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100°F
  • 1/2 cup  (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 4 tablespoons, (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup candied/crystallized ginger, finely minced

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Directions

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk, then sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of white sugar on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, use the paddle attachment to combine the butter, eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and 1 cup of flour with the yeast mixture until smooth and combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour, along with the salt, ground ginger and nutmeg . Knead for about 5 minutes, until a soft slightly sticky dough is formed.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and knead with your hands about 5 more minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. Grease a separate bowl and punch the dough down into it, then flip it back up so that both sides are oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

In the meantime make the filling: in the bowl of the standing mixer use your fingers to rub the sugar together with the lemon zest until fragrant. Add the butter and beat together with the paddle attachment until it’s creamy. Add the ginger and nutmeg. Slowly drizzle in the lemon juice until it’s thin, but still creamy. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until you’re ready to fill the rolls.

Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and roll out to a large rectangle, about 10 x 15 inches. Use a spatula to spread the lemon filling on top of the dough. Sprinkle the crystallized ginger on top of the filling in an even layer. Roll the dough up from the long end tightly to keep filling from spilling out. Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide in half. Divide each half into 6 pieces so that you have 12 rolls. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake rolls for 35 minutes or until dough inner temp reaches 190°F. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the icing together in a bowl. Pour/spoon some of the icing on top of the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving, but they are best eaten still warm.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #193.

Cranberry Orange Almond Bread

Hey y’all.

I know. It’s been like a month since my last post. I didn’t mean to let this much time go by, but there’s been a lot going on.

Long story short, we made another move. Not as far as the one before, this time only from Norcal to SoCal.

But moving anywhere is tedious, time consuming and stressful. Then after the move comes the ‘settling in’ period to the new place and location.  I meant to set aside some time for blogging during that time, but it didn’t work out that way.

If I’m being perfectly honest, with the way my life and schedule is going to adjust while we we’re here, my blogging and posting might become less frequent. I hope that it doesn’t, but should it come to that I’m still going to aim for doing at least one post a month. Knock on wood.

But anyway, let’s just get to today’s recipe, which is kinda apropos for the subject matter of not having a whole lot of time to get something done, but still wanting/needing for it to be. Quick bread was one of the first things I learned how to bake. It’s a great place to start for someone interested in baking bread who’s still scared of yeast. The reason is written right in the name itself; baking powder and egg takes the place of the leavening agent and cut down on the overall labor and bake time.

Most people’s exposure to quick bread comes through either banana bread or zucchini bread, as those tend to be the most popular. There are endless possibilities to the flavors and ingredients you can use though, some of which I’ve already shared on the blog. Today’s recipe takes one of my favorite flavor combos to bake with in general, and puts it into quick bread.

I was making brinner for us one day and didn’t feel like the added labor of pancakes, waffles or biscuits. I also didn’t have a whole lot of time. My solution was to make a quick bread using some spare ingredients I already had lying around the kitchen.  The cranberry and orange of course go together great, but the almond extract is actually my favorite ingredient in this loaf: it gives that subtle but present ‘bakery flavor’ that just can’t be duplicated any other way. The loaf also isn’t too sweet. I took a piece or two, toasted and smeared them with butter. It’s delicious.

It’s quick, it’s easy, it tastes great. What more do you really need to know?

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Cranberry Orange Almond Bread

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the dried cranberries and orange zest.

In a small bowl combine the egg with the milk, oil and extracts.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, stirring just until combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with white sugar.

Place on a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #292, co-hosted this week by Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

 

Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

For weeks leading up to this post, I had a crazy craving for two things: chocolate chip cookies, and M&Ms. It was a busy time for me so I didn’t have a lot of extra time to bake. Plus, every time I went to the grocery store, I kept forgetting about my craving and didn’t just grab some M&Ms from the check out line. Figures.

When things started to slow down and my attention span to the kitchen was able to improve, you can be sure that I got to work on satisfying my craving. It wasn’t too hard a fix. M&Ms are pretty readily available pretty much anywhere. And when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, I don’t think I’m blowing my own horn too loudly when I tell y’all that I have that on lock.

Whether we’re talking about in life, or the kitchen: once you find the Right One, there’s just no need to go looking for another. I’ve been using the exact same recipe for chocolate chip cookies for several years now. I don’t need to try any others. This one is perfect.

A few months ago I made a post where I talked about a practice I called Recipe Recycling. It’s basically where you take the bare bones of an existing recipe, then make some additions or substitutions to turn it into something slightly or greatly different. I shared my Right One chocolate chip cookie recipe years ago on the blog. Now I’m here to share the Recycled Right One chocolate chip cookie recipe.

You guys ready for the super complicated, lengthy process of recycling this recipe? Pay attention. It’s a real doozy.

Swap out the chocolate chips for M&Ms. Keep everything else the same.

And that’s it. Seriously.

One small little ingredient change makes such a wonderful difference, and dare I say, an improvement. M&Ms have a little bit more of a bite to them than normal chocolate chips and chunks, and I was surprised by how much I loved the flavor of the candy in the cookie. Craving = completely satisfied.

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Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land O’Lakes

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups M&M candies

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, combine butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

Add eggs (1 at a time) and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl down with a spatula often, until well mixed.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until well mixed. Stir in candies.

Refrigerate dough for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-14 minutes or until light golden brown. (Do not overbake.) Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #288, co-hosted this week by Angie and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

Sausage-Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

When I get into conversation with people about my love of food and cooking, sometimes I’ll get questions about how I learned. Sometimes I get asked for advice as to how to help someone else, who isn’t a huge cooking fan, still become a better one.

I’ll tell y’all like I was told by the cooks I learned from: start with something simple. Something so simple, you would have to go out of your way to mess up.

Once you pull that dish off, practice it a few more times until you get comfortable with it. Maybe even so comfortable you don’t need the recipe itself anymore–you just throw the stuff together and it still turns out, because it’s just that easy. Once you reach that level of comfort, that’s when you can start experimenting and flex a few more of your cooking muscles.

Trust me, they’re under there.  You just gotta work em out a little bit more to see them.

Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, everyone needs to have a set of what I like to call ‘Go-To’s’ for the kitchen. Go-Tos are recipes that can be thrown together with minimal ingredients, minimal effort, and a minimal recipe and still turn out a perfectly satisfying meal.

Breakfast Casserole was one of the first simple recipes that I began practicing when I was first learning how to cook. It’s simple, it’s minimal, it’s nearly impossible to mess up. Because the recipe itself is versatile, there’s plenty of room for experimentation and variation in the ingredients. To this day, it’s one of my Go To recipes that I always find myself coming back to when I know I’ve got to cook something for dinner, but don’t feel like putting up much of an effort. Cause that happens, even to me.

A breakfast casserole is basically where you throw all of your favorite omelette fillings together, pour beaten eggs and milk over them, then bake it in the oven until it’s firmed up. All of us love different things in our omelettes, so that’s where the versatility of this recipe comes in. This exact recipe is what I like, but don’t feel as though it’s carved in stone; swap out the individual ingredients to fill it with whatever you prefer to eat in yours.

The most important thing to ensure that breakfast casserole turns out is to make sure you’re using enough eggs and milk to cover all of the solid ingredients in the pan. Too little liquid and the ratio of the bake gets thrown off and it won’t hold together when you cut into it.

That’s really all there is to it, y’all. This one goes into the “You Can’t Screw This Up Category” for sure, so I would recommend trying it out for yourself. It’ll brighten your day–or weekend.

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Sausage Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork sausage (or turkey)
  • 1 lb spicy ground pork sausage (or turkey)
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 2 bell peppers, finely diced
  • 1 30 oz package of Frozen shredded hashbrowns (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • Salt and pepper, onion powder
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese  of your choice (I think Cheddar or Swiss would work fine for this)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 11 x 13 baking dish.

Brown the sausage in a large greased skillet, until no longer pink. Drain and set aside in a bowl, but save about 1/3 cup of the sausage grease.

Pour a few tablespoons of the reserved sausage grease back into the skillet, then saute the onions and peppers in it until they are softened and have a bit of color to them. When they’re done, remove them to the bowl with the sausage crumbled and stir together. Set aside.

Prepare the hashbrowns according to the package instructions, using the remaining reserved sausage grease to cook the hashbrowns in, seasoning them generously with salt and pepper. When the hashbrowns are finished, stir them together with the sausage and veggies.

In a large bowl combine the eggs, milk, using a large whisk to stir until the yolks are all broken up. Season the mixture generously with salt, pepper and onion powder.

Spread the meat and veggie mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the egg mixture over the top, using a spatula to make sure the filling is coated and mixed in thoroughly with the eggs.

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan, then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until puffed/firmed up and the center is clean when pierced with a butter knife. In the last 15 or so minutes of cooking, sprinkle the cheese on top and move the baking dish up one row in the oven to help it brown more on top.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #287, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Rita @ Parsi Cuisine.