Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie
Have mercy, this pie was good!  Sweetie-Pie and I ate this at all three meals, it was so good.  If you had ever told us several years back we'd be eating and loving a sweet potato pie, your remarks would have been met with scoffs and firm denials.

I made one a couple of years back because of all the hoopla over sweet potato pie, and we were not wowed.  We are pumpkin pie eaters, and as far as we're concerned there is only one recipe for pumpkin pie and coincidentally both our mothers and grandmothers used the same recipe which was on the back of a New England product called One Pie.  Don't be trying to trick us into eating that other national favorite; we know pumpkin pie.

Anyway, back to sweet potato pie.  So I tried a recipe a couple of years back, and it had similar ingredients to our favorite pumpkin pie recipe so I was sure we'd love it.  It was okay in our estimation, but it just didn't work.  Well, no kidding, right?  Sweet potatoes are their own vegetable.  By chance I came upon this recipe, hemmed and hawed about it, questioned whether or not there was enough spices and what not.  I mean, it seemed so plain and simple.  How could it possibly be good.

Well, that's the beauty of this pie.  The spices and sugars enhance, elevate the sweet potatoes to a heavenly pie that don't try to run over or compete with the natural goodness of the sweet potato.  I can't recommend this pie enough.

SWEET POTATO PIE

2 eggs
Cooked, mashed potatoes to equal 2 cups
1 1/4 cups evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons vanilla
4 oz melted butter
One 9-inch unbaked, refrigerated (or frozen and thawed or your favorite homemade) pie shell

Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 55 minutes
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add the mashed sweet potatoes, evaporated milk, butter , vanilla, both sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Beat to combine, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake in the center of the oven for about 55 minutes, until filling is set.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

No Knead, Whole Wheat, English Muffin Batter Bread



I love my no-knead breads.  I love my kneaded breads, too, of course, but there are times, especially in the mornings, when I just want to get a dough in the oven without a lot of fuss and bother, and have a result that is beautiful, hearty, full of glory, grins.

My Sweetie-Pie surprised me a while back with a gorgeous bouquet of lilies, for no reason, just because he saw something beautiful and he thought of me.  How sweetie-pie is that?!  I'm telling you.  So, of course I had to bake him something that he particularly likes, whole wheat bread.

I'm an early morning riser, he tends to be a sleepyhead so it's no effort for me to have this ready and cooling by the time he finally makes it out to the kitchen.  Usually it's the aroma of something wonderful that awakens him and I see him standing there rubbing his eyes with his knuckles, sniffing the air, and mumbling, "What is that wonderful smell?"  Too cute sometimes.


NO KNEAD, WHOLE WHEAT, ENGLISH MUFFIN BATTER BREAD

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons whole wheat gluten (optional but gives a higher rise)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cornmeal, for sprinkling the pan

Lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or grease with shortening. Roll and shake the cornmeal around the sides and bottom of the pan.  Shake out any excess. Set pan aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, vital wheat gluten flour (if using), brown sugar, yeast, salt, and baking soda.

Combine the milk, water, and oil and gently heat until the liquid reaches the temperature directed by the yeast manufacturer, usually between 110*-120* Fahrenheit, but check package for manufacturer's recommendations. Stir the liquid together well before taking the temperature, and for best results, use an insta-read or digital read thermometer.  If you don't have one, temperature should be pleasantly warm but not hot.

Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients, then beat the mixture on high speed for one minute. The dough will be very soft, somewhat sticky, and moist, kind of goopy. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, then gently stretch it with your impeccably clean hands to make it as even as possible.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray or a clean kitchen towel, in a warm, draft-free place, until the dough just barely rises over the top rim of the pan, about 1 hour, depending upon the temperature of your kitchen. (Alternatively, you can place the loaf in your refrigerator to rise overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to baking.) Towards the end of the bread’s rise time, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400* Fahrenheit.

Once dough has risen, remove the plastic wrap and bake for 22 to 27 minutes, until it is golden brown and the interior temperature registers 185*-190* Fahrenheit, or sounds hollow when given a good thump with the back of  your knuckle. Check the dough at the 15-minute mark—if it's browning too quickly, lightly tent the pan with foil, then continue baking until the bread is done.

Remove the bread from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes in the baking pan. Gently turn the bread out from the pan and place on a cooling rack. Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.

NOTE: I live in the desert, my kitchen is always warm and almost always no humidity, grins. Cooling a kitchen to 75* Fahrenheit is a lot different than heating it, grins.  My flours are parched! There was not nearly enough liquid so I ended up adding close to another 1/4 cup of lukewarm water.  The rising time for my dough was only about 40 minutes.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Creamed Spinach and Baked Eggs Breakfast

Every now and again we get a little bit (for us, grins) adventurous and we try something that we'd never thought we'd eat in a hundred years.  This time it was spinach for breakfast.  With eggs.  I suppose on the surface the combination does sound disconcerting when one has a long history of presweetened cereals or eggs simply prepared with no spinach. We love all the ingredients but just had never put them together for a breakfast meal.  So it took a bit of doing to work up the courage to try it, but this was definitely worth the test.  We are converted!  This is company worthy, would be marvelous for a brunch or special occasion.

CREAMED SPINACH AND BAKED EGGS

6 slices bacon (or more depending how many you're serving)
1/2 onion, diced
15 ounce bag of frozen spinach
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 8 large eggs (depending on how many you're serving)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
plain bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 400* Fahrenheit.

In an ovenproof skillet, fry the bacon until crisp.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined dish.  Remove all but one tablespoon of bacon fat from the frying pan.

Add onion to the bacon fat, stirring occasionally, until light golden and softened.

Add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Carefully pour off some of the liquid.  Season the spinach with the salt and pepper.  Add the cream and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Using a spoon, make wells in the spinach, one for each egg you are going to serve.  Crack an egg into each well.  If the eggs slightly flow into each other, that's fine.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Transfer to the oven and bake 6 to 8 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks are still slightly runny.

I sprinkled with bread crumbs towards the end for a little extra color but that's totally optional.

Spoon onto plate to serve with the bacon.  Toast points are a nice addition to dip into the soft yolk.  YUM!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Chicken That Makes Its Own Gravy

Chicken That Makes Its Own Gravy

Can one have too many chicken recipes?  I think not, especially when it's as simple and flavorful and as comforting this one.  This is one of those mom meals that make adult children pine for childhood Sunday dinners at Grandma's.  The aroma alone while it's baking will have you hanging around the kitchen anxiously awaiting mealtime.

I originally saw this recipe in a cookbook which I love (and one of two cookbooks that I own two of because I love them so much) entitled Best Recipes from the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars by Ceil Dyer.  Originally the recipe was included on the back of the back of the Carnation evaporated milk in the early 60's and became much beloved.  I can our voices to the chorus of praise for this meal; Sweetie-Pie and I raved about it for hours after.  Yep, it's a keeper in my files.

I made a couple of small changes to the recipe for my ease of preparation, portion, and method of seasoning, but otherwise followed the recipe.

CHICKEN THAT MAKES ITS OWN GRAVY

3 to 3 1/2 pounds frying chicken pieces (I used 2 thick breasts cut in half)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter
2/3 cup undiluted evaporated milk
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup (4 ounces) grated American processed cheese (I used real cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium sized onion, diced
1/4 pound mushrooms sliced or some small can mushrooms drained
dash paprika

Preheat over to 425* Fahrenheit.  Melt the butter and add to the bottom of  a casserole dish.  Add the chopped onion.

Coat chicken with flour.  (I put the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a plastic bag with the chicken pieces and shook the chicken in the mixture until well covered, to improve the flavor of the chicken.)
Arrange the chicken in a single layer in the casserole dish atop the onions.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.  Turn, bake and bake another 15 to 20 minutes until brown.

Remove from oven; reduce heat to 325* Fahrenheit.  Pour of any excess fat.

Combine the undiluted evaporated milk, cream of mushroom soup, mushroom slices and cheese and pour over the chicken.  Give it a little stir to combine with the onions.  Cover the dish with foil and return to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken tests done (is easily pierced with  fork or has an internal temperature of 165* Fahrenheit with a meat thermometer.)

The gravy goes especially good with mashed potatoes, though noodles would be equally good.

COOK'S NOTES:  The original recipe called for the seasonings to be added with the cream of mushroom soup, but when I've done that with similar past recipes, the chicken tends to be bland.  The chicken needs to be seasoned before baking to enhance its flavor.  Also the recipe called for a one pound jar of drained onions, which I never have on hand (must've been a pantry staple back in the 60's), but I do always have fresh onions, which I used as a substitute.