Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

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Never done a post from my iPhone with multiple pictures before so we shall see how ugly this turns out. It processes my photos as a bunch of code that I totally don’t understand, but it’ll make the rest of my trip back to Boston go by a little faster! I hope.

Something I’ve talked about recently on here is my need for good southern cooking. Usually, I head back to South Carolina every 3-4 months and I get my (butter) fix. We are now going on six months here and I’m starting to lose it. For the last month or so, I’ve been looking for the easy-peasy biscuits and gravy I remember eating as a kid. Everything I found was so complicated! Then, I found the Pioneer Woman’s post for drop biscuits and sausage gravy. Five ingredients or less for each component? Yes, please!

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For the biscuits, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix up 3 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of baking powder, and a hefty pinch of salt. Cut in a stick and a half of butter, and then gradually add 1-1/2 cups of buttermilk. You want a dough that isn’t too wet, but sticks to your fingers.

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Spoon blobs of dough onto a cookie sheet and bake until they start to turn good and pretty, about 15-20 minutes depending on how powerful your oven
is.

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The sausage gravy is even easier than the biscuits. Brown up some breakfast sausage, toss it with a couple tablespoons of flour, then add enough milk to cover it up. Stir occasionally until the magic happens and it becomes thick and gooey. Season with lots of black pepper!

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If I’d had my way, I would have used spicy sausage. I like it for the zing.

Enjoy!

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Ricotta Banana Bread

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I love, love, LOVE banana bread.  One day I discovered banana bread with nutella slathered on it and I gained 20 pounds.

Okay so it didn’t happen quite like that, but it was a pretty amazing discovery.  The 20 pounds, not so much.  I mean…bananas? Chocolate? Come on.

My battle with banana bread has always been finding a recipe that results in a luscious but fluffy cake that doesn’t involve pouring in a ton of melted butter.  Believe me, I love butter.  My hips don’t.

All I did was use this recipe from cooking light and substitute ricotta for the yogurt.  It was delicious.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas) 
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack

Enjoy!

 

 
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Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie (Thanksgiving Droolfest)

I get really excited for Thanksgiving.  It’s amazing because you get to spend time with your family without the stress of gift-giving, figure out an idea of what everybody wants when it’s actually time for gift-giving, and, most importantly, eat until you can’t breathe. When you’re a kid, you get to just show up and stuff your face.  Now that I’m older, I look forward to getting in on the action.  

Last year, I made an apple cobbler.  I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but I have some bad self control issues when it comes to delicious food sitting in my fridge that has a lid that can be removed without having to pull the whole thing out and make myself a plate of goodness.  Every time I opened the fridge, I slithered my hand into the pan of cobbler (more than once) and it magically came out with pieces of apples and that crumbly delicious topping.  Most of the time I would look for something in the refrigerator just to have an excuse to sneak some more cobbler.  Oops.

This year I went for something different.  I’d planned on making a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake, but ended up changing my mind to this luscious sweet potato pie.  If I couldn’t have cherry pie, I needed at least a little bit of the south in my Thanksgiving.  It was a hit!

The recipe will be at the end.  For now, enjoy the food porn.  You’re welcome.

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I almost skipped this step and boiled the sweet potatoes instead, but it ended up being really easy to steam them.  Plus, I was worried about having a bunch of water in the potatoes and then trying to bake them in a pie.

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I wanted to stop right here and just eat.  Forget pie.

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This pie gets it’s fluffy texture from whipped egg whites.  

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I ended up using a store-bought pie crust.  I woke up around 6:00 AM and went back and forth between using the one I already bought and sucking it up and just making one.  I was really nervous that the bottom of this crust wouldn’t cook because the instructions explicitly said not to prebake it.  It was tasty!  But next time I’ll make my own so I can get it flakier.

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All you have to do is fill the crust and bake it.  It will look really puffy and weird for a while, but after you take it out of the oven it will sink as it cools.  This is okay!

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I ate this pie for breakfast for the next two days.

From SmittenKitchen:

“1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled and chopped into a 1/2-inch dice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpoe flour
3/4 cup full- or lowfat buttermilk (or, you can make your own)
All-Butter, Really Flaky Pie Crust (a half recipe will yield a single crust), prebaked (instructions below)
Whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Pour 1 1/2 inches of water into a 3-quart stock part with a strainer basket suspended over it and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, cover and steam until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Place the steamed sweet potatoes in a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Mash them into a smooth puree with a fork or potato masher (though I suspect that a potato ricer would also do a great job). You should have 1 1/4 cups puree; discard any excess (by topping with a pat of butter, sprinkling with salt and making yourself a most-excellent snack). Add the butter, lemon juice if using, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula after each addition.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a whisk, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until they’re a creamy lemon-yellow color, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg mixture to the sweet potato mixture and stir until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated and the filling is a consistent bright orange color. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. Add the buttermilk and again stir until smooth and even.

With a cleaned whisk (or electric hand mixer), whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a clean, dry bowl. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the sweet potato-buttermilk mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the prebaked crust and bake on the middle rack of the oven until the center is firm and set, 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely on a rack. Serve at room temperature (or cold from the fridge; you can cover it with plastic wrap before chilling) with a dollop of whipped cream.”

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Jerad’s project was roasted brussels sprouts with bacon.  We had to cover it up before heading to his uncle’s house so I didn’t eat it all before we got there.  It’s so easy.  Cook bacon, toss sprouts in bacon fat, add minced garlic, salt, pepper, roast for half an hour at 350 degrees, top with cooked bacon.

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My first fried turkey!

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They made three turkeys.  Wow.  So much, so good.

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I like to fill my plate with a little bit of everything…multiple times.

I am thankful, happy, and full.

Enjoy!

 

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My Laziness, My Promotion, and My New Knives

I blame my lack of posts on the lack of daylight.  I go to work in the morning, come home in the dark, and have to force myself to stay awake once I hit 8:00 PM.  This means that I haven’t done a lot of creative cooking and even less writing.

Curse you, nature!

I mentioned in one of my last posts that I was getting promoted.  At the time, it was all very up in the air and the beginning of the holiday season added to that confusion.  I am now officially a Tommy Hilfiger selling specialist (for the ladies) at the Macy’s downtown Boston store.  Basically, I get to promote Tommy and build a client base.  It’s all very exciting.  I have power, mwahaha.

If you want your sweater world rocked and you live in the area, come see me.

Finally, I have fancy sharp things!  My birthday gift from my grandma was going to be a knife set, but I couldn’t settle on anything so I picked two big knives instead.  I absolutely love them and they’ve cut my prep time in half.  Thanks, grandma!

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The first is a Henckels 8″ chef’s knife.  Forged, full tang, nice and hefty.

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My other baby is a Wusthof Santuko knife.  It’s also forged (as opposed to stamped, blech), full tang, but it’s a lot lighter than the Henckels.  I used this to cut up some cauliflower last night and it sliced through it like butter.  I’m in heaven.

I’m a few meals behind now so you can definitely expect some deliciousness on here this week.

Enjoy!

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Restaurant Review: Crumbs Bake Shop

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Very quick review today! This cupcake was good in all the ways I expect a cupcake to be. Icing is delicious without smacking you in the face, cake was moist and flavorful. Will go here again, because I sure love cupcakes!

Enjoy!

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Fig, Apple, and Sage Pork Tenderloin

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To all of you, my lovely readers, I’m sorry that I’ve put off posting for almost a week.  Every time I would get started on something I would think, “Wow…I am so boring, forget this.”  I was also swept up in the fact that I’m supposedly getting promoted to something really cool at work.  I’ll announce what that’s all about when it’s official.  While I haven’t been posting as much as I would like, I’ve still been cooking up a storm.  Plenty of deliciousness is coming your way!

I don’t cook pork tenderloin often because it has a tendency to dry out and get chewy, an issue that comes with cooking lean cuts of meat.  For now, I’ll get to this amazing meal, but stay tuned for some tips for achieving a perfectly moist tenderloin every time.

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First of all, when you buy this cut, make sure you find one that is an evenly shaped as possibly.  If you find one that is thin at one end and thick at the other, it’s going to be overcooked on one side and undercooked on the other.  Not tasty.

Let’s ignore how phallic that looks.  The other picture was worse.  You would have been clutching your pearls, clutching them hard.

The tying is really easy.  I used a video on youtube!  Not only does it look all fancy, but it helps the meat cook evenly.

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Tuck some leaves of sage under the twine and season the whole thing with salt and pepper.

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This step is optional, but the pig gods were telling me that I should encase all this goodness in saran wrap until I was ready to sear it into golden bliss.  It’s also a good idea if you didn’t already bring it up to room temperature like I did.

At this point, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

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Chop up an apple, a shallot, and some figs.  I used the dried figs from Trader Joe’s.  They’re like gourmet raisins.  Yum!

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At this point, I totally spaced out on you guys.  Start by browning your pork tenderloin on all sides.  Remove it from the pan (I used my trusty cast iron skillet) and add the shallot, apple, and figs.  Get a little color going, then push all those goodies towards the center of the pan and perch the pork on top.  Put the whole thing in the oven until the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees, about 15 minutes.

I know this sounds low but this is actually the approved temperature for pork!  Plus, it should raise a few degrees while it’s resting for ten minutes.

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The inside should be slightly pink, but not bloody.  I served up mine with a slice of fig jam-smothered toast.

Enjoy!

 

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Apple and Cheddar Scones

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I would like to start by thanking Smitten Kitchen for this recipe.  Everything about it is perfect.

I didn’t realize how much I enjoy scones until this past year.  I especially got hooked on them when I started making my own, not because I think I’m a magical and superior baking goddess, but because scones are best the day they are baked.  The last few times I baked them, I planned my day so I could have scones for at least two meals of the day, if not all three.  These scones are slightly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and are so perfect for a fall day that you might as well plop down on the couch with a warm cup of tea and call it a day.

Have I mentioned that I love fall?

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Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Chop up two tart apples (I used Granny Smiths) and spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake the chopped apples until they’re slightly cooked and dry to the touch, 15-20 minutes.

Your kitchen will smell amazing.

Let them cool, chop them up even smaller, and throw them into your big mixing bowl.

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In another bowl, mix your flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Someday, I’ll get a sifter.  But, for now, I’ll just whisk away.

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Back in your big bowl, add the cheddar, cold butter, cream, and egg.  Cream does magical things to the texture of scones.

Add your dry ingredients.  I started by mixing with a spoon so my hands wouldn’t melt the butter, and finished with my hands when the spoon just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

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Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape it into a thick disk.  It’s going to feel weird, but try to contain the apple chunks.  Cut it into six wedges.

Finally, brush with a beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for about 30 minutes until golden and beautiful.

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We ate all of them, throughout the day, of course.

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I’m planning some crazy scone experiments.  Get ready.

Enjoy!

 

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