Monday, January 30, 2012

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

This one of my all-time favorite lab recipes.  These drop biscuits couldn't be any easier, and they taste divine.  

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  •  1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried chopped parsley flakes                    
  • 1/4 cup Melted butter with a dash of garlic powder for brushing the tops of baked biscuits                   
  • Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
    2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder, garlic powder, and parsley. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You may use a pastry bender or a knife and fork to do this cutting in.   Make a well in the center of flour mixture. Add the milk and cheddar cheese; stir to combine. Do not overmix. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.               
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. While biscuits are baking mix melted butter and garlic powder.   Brush garlic butter over hot baked biscuits.  Yum!!

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Pizza Dough

    Pizza Dough

    A few notes on using yeast will be in order here.  You find the packages of yeast in a refrigerate d case in most instances for a good reason.  Yeast is a plant organism and can be killed with high temperatures.  Also, you will find a use-by date to which you should pay good attention..    Do not buy expired yeast!!  You can buy yeast in bulk , and thats what we do.  My husband bakes bread on a regular basis, so the bulk purchase makes sense. You get a whole lot for little more that you pay for just a few packets of yeast.   You can keep your extra yeast in the freezer to help keep it fresh. I have noticed over the last several years, "artisan"  breads are increasingly advertised.  I really noticed it when we visited  the Northwest  three years ago, and then again when we vacationed in Minnesota and Wisconsin..  Bread baking is, indeed, artsy and creative not to mention fun.   I have several good bread recipes that I plan to share.   The following recipe is the pizza dough we always made in class.  Before we ended block scheduling, we could make our crust and bake the pizza, eat it, and clean up all in one class period.   For the last few years, we baked the crust without the toppings until it was just "blonde."  We put the toppings on and baked the next day.  Works, but making the whole pizza in one session is definitely better.  Make it this weekend, and make your family very happy!!  By the way, this makes a large pizza. 

    2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    1 tablespoon yeast ( one packet, aprrox.)
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup very warm water
    2 teaspoons oil

    Combine all dry ingredients and stir well.
    Add the warm water(not hot--if you want to get technical, 110 degrees is about right and oil to the dry mixture.  Stir well to make a soft dough.  If dough seems too dry, add a little more warm water.  Conversely, if dough needs more flour, add just enough to correct the stickiness.  Remember, excess flour will make the crust dry and hard to work. If you are not sure about the dough, sprinkle a little flour on your clean surface to see how it kneads.  That will tell you what you need to adjust.  You want a soft, silky feeling )dough.   This is easy and so worth the little work it takes!  Knead the dough for about 8 minutes until it is smooth and satiny.

    Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes(20 minutes is pro!bably better)   with a clean towel or a piece of plastic wrap on top.  We always put a clean towel in the dryer at school to warm it up first and hasten this resting phase. THIS IS A CRUCIAL STEP IN THE PROCESS!  This allows the rising process to make the dough so much easier to work.  You can get the sauce and your toppings ready while this resting is taking place. 
    For the homemade sauce we always used at school, go to Mrs. Pickle's Marinara and you have it!  You can use spaghetti sauce or purchased pizza sauce, whatever works best for  you.  The marinara is hard to beat, if I say so myself and the price is right.  A can of tomato sauce is about a $.25.

    Now, you are ready  to put the pizza dough on the pan.  Lightly grease the pizza pan with oil or spray with non-stick spray.  I always just use my hands to flatten and stretch the dough a bit before I put it on the pizza pan.  Remember how I showed you to roll the pan around as you worked the dough into place on the pan kinda like the pan was a lazy susan?  It works! You do not need  to allow this dough to rise before you put on the toppings. It will rise as it bakes in a very hot oven.  Put on your sauce and whatever toppings you have chosen.  If you use pepperoni, you can put in the microwave for about 5 seconds and blot some of the excess fat with a paper towel.

    Your oven should be a very hot 450 degrees, preheated,  and you will want to put the pan on the lowest rack setting.  Check the doneness by using a metal spatula to lift up the edge of the crust .  You want the bottom of the crust to be brown.  A white bottom crust will mean the pizza crust will taste "doughy." Pizza is generally done in about 20 minutes.  This is another recipe that the kids can get into the action.  Let them help and make some happy memories.  The kitchen is the heart of the home!!  I believe it.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Quilt Pin Basting Tip

    Went to school today to pin baste my Lollypop Trees quilt.  One thing that kept me teaching as long as I did was the great sewing lab and the big tables where we could easily pin baste our quilts.   The new teacher is a very nice person to allow me to come and use the tables.    The tip I want to give you today, I just dreamed up this very morning!  Lots of people probably know about this, beacause it is such a simple fix!  I always end up with sore fingers from the pinning.  I tried that pin basting notion years ago, but it just didn't seem be a natural fit for me.  Today, I sucessfully solved the sore finger problem with two flexible fabric bandages.   I just wrapped my index and middle fingers firmly with the bandages.  It was just enough extra padding and protection to make a painful chore a whole lot more bearable.   Try it if you have a similar problem.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Sewing, sewing, sewing!!

    From all my posts so far, one might think that I am spending all my time in the kitchen.  Banish the thought!  I am just going to make an effort to put at least 5 recipes on per week to get some of my requests fulfilled.  What I really am doing with all mywonderful spare time is to sew, sew, sew.  I will show you my latest creation in just a few days.  Stunning, if I say so myself!!

    Spanish Rice

    Now for the Spanish Rice I have made for 40 years.  I don't even have to consult the recipe for this one!!  Let me say that I don't skimp when I buy rice.  Cheap rice just doesn't cut the mustard for me.  Mahatma long grain is what i normally buy, but if you can get your hands on some Basmati rice, go for it!  I think I have seen it at Walmart,but not sure.  I buy it at Sam's, and it comes in a BIG bag, not sure how many pounds.  I split it with friends it is such a big bag.  Worth it, I tell you!   It is aromatic and cooks with the biggest, fluffy grains.   Always remember that you cook regular  rice in a 2 to 1 ratio--2 parts liquid, 1 part rice.  Don't stir rice while it is cooking, and leave the lid on to keep the steam in and it's hard to go wrong .  One cup of raw rice will equal 3 cups cooked rice.   Now for the recipe:

    1 cup long grain rice
    2 tablespoons oil (olive oil is what I usually use)
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 tablespoons bell pepper, chopped
    1 toe of garlic , chopped or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth or beef broth
    dash red pepper
    salt to taste
    1 teaspoon cumin

    Rinse the rice in a collander.  Now, if you are in your twenties and are reading this, you probably call this a strainer, but it is a collander.  I have a small plastic one I got at the dollar store that has smallish holes in it.  Do this washing of the rice gently, because you don't want your rice washing down the sink! A strainer has wire mesh.  Certainly, if you have one of these, use it because the rice really would not wash out of it.  I just don't have one, and you might not either. This step removes some of the starch and just works nicely in this recipe.  Let the rice drain while you chop your vegetables.  Heat the oil in pan with a tight fitting lid that will accomodate about 3 quarts.  I acutally use an electric skillet when I make this.  Mine has a non-stick surface and works really well for this.   Put your drained rice, chopped onion and peppers in the hot oil  and stir until the rice begins to turn a pale golden color and the vegetables begin to soften--just takes a couple of mintues.  Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Now, turn the heat down to a low simmer, put on your tight fitting lid, and leave it alone for about 20 minutes.  At the end of this time, you should have delicious Spanish rice to go with your enchiladas!  Note that this recipe has a little more liquid that the 2 to 1 ratio.  This makes for a very moist dish.  I sometimes use canned chopped tomatoes or salsa in place of the tomato sauce.  Make this your own recipe!

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Monday Chicken Enchiladas

    Are you intimidated by rolling enchiladas?   No need to be, because this recipe solves some of the hassle.  I developed this recipe to use leftover baked chicken and gravy that we often have on Sunday, hence the name of Monday Chicken Enchiladas.  However, you can still make it if you have no leftovers.   We never made this in class, but we should have!   I made this today and measured as I went, so I can give it to you.  The chicken mixture is very moist, so the enchiladas are a snap to roll--none of that putting a little chicken down, then a little onion, then a little cheese.  You get the picture.  Very simplified, these enchiladas.  Also, a huge bonus is the fact that the tortillas don't have to be softened in hot oil.  You put 5 or 6 at a time in the microwave for about 40 seconds.  Magically, they are softened and ready to roll!

    I used about 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped (you could use canned chicken or rotisserie chicken--I prefer to cook my own)
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 small can chopped green chilies
    1 small onion, chopped
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste
    dash garlic powder
    dash red pepper
    1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
    3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 can green enchilada sauce plus 1/2 cup sour cream.
    About 1 cup grated cheese
    18 corn tortillas

    Saute the chopped onion in a very small amt. of olive oil.  I indicated 1 tsp., but use your own judgement.
    Mix the cooked chicken that has been chopped with the soup, sour cream, green chilies, sauteed onion, and all spices. You might want to taste to see if your seasoning needs tweaking.  You are ready to roll!!  Grease a 9 by 13 inch pan with a little oil, butter, or spray. Mix the enchilada sauce with the additional half cup of sour cream.  I put just a bit of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan.
    Heat a few of the tortillas in the Mwave for just long enough for them to soften.  I used about 2 heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture per tortilla.  This goes fast!  I rolled 18 enchiladas and laid them in the pan with the seam side down.  Pour green enchilada sauce on top.  Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until it is bubbly.  Toward the end of the baking time, I sprinkled the cup of cheese on top.

    We eat this once, and then eat it leftover for another meal.  They just get better!
    Another option for this recipe is to use cream cheese instead of the sour cream.  Made it once like this, loved it!!   I used 8 oz. cream cheese.  You could also use this same technique and make cheese enchiladas or use ground beef.  You be the chef and adjust all to your own taste! Just remember the tips of having the enchilada filling in a very creamy mixture and softening the tortillas in the Microwave.  Any recipe can be adapted to this time-saving, fat saving technique.  Next time I will give you my Mexican Rice recipe that is the perfect complement to the enchiladas.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Mrs. Pickle's Marinara and notes on pretzel dough

    Now for the all important Mrs. Pickle's Marinara!   I do intend to site my sources for the recipes I add if I can remember.  The Pretzel recipe is a version of one I found long ago in a food lab manual.  It, of course, was tweaked to fit my food lab situation.  A few notes on the pretzel dough is in order.  You can refrigerate this dough and bake them the next day, if desired.  Allow it to come up to room temp and it will work much better than cold dough, however. You could probably freeze this dough for later use, but I never have.  This is a great recipe to get children involved.  They can knead the dough, and they absolutely love shaping pretzels.  Let then shape their names in pretzel dough.  Now, for the Marinara.  As the name would suggest, this is one that I made up.  We were tired of eating the pretzels with mustard!

    2  small cans (8 oz. each can)  tomato sauce
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    2 teaspoons sugar
    dash garlic powder
    dash pepper
    salt to taste
    1 teaspoon Italian seasonings

    Mix all in a small saucepan.  Simmer for a few minutes and enjoy.  Olive oil is the SECRET to the success of this concoction.  It will not taste like mine if you substitute.  All the other seasonings can be adjusted to your particular taste, more of this, less of that.   This is also the sauce we used on our pizzas.  Pizza dough recipe soon.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012


    Soft Pretzels

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees
    1. Put into a large bowl and stir until dissolved:
      1 ¼ teaspoon dry yeast
      ¾ cup very warm water
    2. Stir together in a small bowl
    1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon sugar

    ½ teaspoon salt

      1. Gradually add flour mix to liquid mixture stirring in just enough extra flour to correct the stickiness. The dough should be soft, but firm.
      2. Knead the dough for 5 full minutes. Remember, put your body into it so you don't wear yourself out!! My students know what I am talking about!
      3. Grease a cookie sheet OR line it with parchment paper. Divide dough into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope shape that is about 10 inches.
      4. Loop each piece into a pretzel shape and place on baking sheet.
      5. Beat an egg. Brush each pretzel with the beaten egg. If you put coarse salt on the pretzels at this point, do so very sparingly!
      6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

    If you want these to be softer, you can allow the dough to rise until doubled in size after the pretzels are shaped. We never took the time to do this in class. Also, this recipe can be doubled or tripled, even. ENJOY!

    I must say I am very technology challenged, to say the least. So what am I doing with a blog?!!! What I am is a passionate quilter and a lover of things domestic.  Recently retired as a teacher of Family and Consumer Sciences, my former students still want my help with recipes.  This blog will be the ideal place to put my lab recipes and also showcase my quilting.   Look for lab recipes and other tried and true recipes we like.  The first one I will post will be Pretzels with Marinara.