SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

I am on a quest to make biscuits that taste better than what I can buy in a can. These are pretty darn close and they turned out pretty good for a novice biscuit maker like myself. I’m sure with practice, I will learn how not to overwork the dough and how to make my biscuits  even lighter and fluffier. These are fairly foolproof, though. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The kids asked for them later in the day for a snack and gobbled up the leftovers the next morning. If you fold the dough over on itself a few times before flattening it out, more air will be incorporated into the dough and will give you a taller, lighter biscuit. Just be careful not to overwork the dough.

If you mess with it too much, you will end up with a tough biscuit. A food processor can be used to make the dough and makes it a little bit easier to avoid overmixing. If you want to make these in advance, you can freeze the cut biscuits for up to a month. Just pull as many biscuits as you want from the freezer and bake them from frozen at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

2 c. all purpose flour
6 Tbsp. cold butter
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together and cut in butter with a fork or pastry cutter until butter is incorporated and mixture is crumbly. Pour in buttermilk and stir the dough, just until incorporated. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and lightly flatten the dough and then gently fold it over itself a few times. Gently flatten it out again with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick – do not use a rolling pin. Cut biscuits out with a biscuit cutter and place in a cake pan or on a rimmed cookie sheet very close together (this will help biscuits to rise higher when baking and will result in soft edges). Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the tops again with melted butter and serve warm.

*You can use a food processor to make the dough. Just be sure to pulse only a few times until the butter is cut into the dry ingredients, and then only a few times more until the buttermilk is incorporated.

Source: Adapted from Recipezaar

LEMON PIE

Lemon desserts say summer to me, and this is my absolute favorite. Something about the sour cream in this pie adds a little something special, and once I start eating, I can’t stop. I have to make this for a special occasion or for a time when we are having people over so it disappears quickly. Otherwise, I will be eating a slice every chance I get (for breakfast even). The filling is also very versatile. You can make this pie in a graham cracker crust, a traditional pie crust, or in mini philo or tart shells. Top with Dream Whip or homemade whipped cream and serve it cold. I promise, it will be a hit however you serve it.

Lemon Pie

I c. sugar

3 T. cornstarch

1 c. milk

3 egg yolks

1/4 c. butter

1/4 c. lemon juice

1 small carton sour cream

1 9 inch pie crust (graham cracker or regular, already baked)

Dream Whip or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, mix together cornstarch, sugar and milk. Over medium to medium high heat, cook mixture until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks in a small bowl and pour in a small amount of custard mixture and mix well. Slowly pour egg yolks back into pan of custard while stirring. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Cook for an additional two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and lemon juice. Stir in sour cream and pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, top with Dream Whip or whipped cream.

Source: Adapted from The Lady and Sons Just Desserts Cookbook by Paula Deen

SLOPPY JOE, SLOPPY, SLOPPY JOE!

I wonder how much money we could all save if we made a lot of those things that we buy in a packet, jar or can from scratch? I’ve tried lately to make a few of those things that I buy pre-made from scratch. Sometimes it’s cheaper and sometimes it’s not, but it’s amazing how much better things taste when they are made at home. It doesn’t take that much more work; measure, mix and done. It might take a couple more minutes than tearing open a bag or opening a can, but the final outcome is worth it. These sloppy joes are a great example of a little extra time for a huge payout. These are fantastic! I don’t know if I’ll ever use the canned stuff again.

Again, for those of you who like to cook once a month, or make double batches so you can put one in the freezer for another time, this is a great freezer meal. Put it in a large freezer bag and freeze, and when you’re ready to serve, thaw and reheat. Also, a great tip is to buy hamburger meat on sale in large quantities and then come home and brown it all. Separate it into approximately one pound portions and freeze each in a freezer bag or tupperware container. You can either put the meat in the fridge the night before to thaw, or thaw it enough in the microwave to where you can break it up and then finish thawing and reheating it on the stove. Having the already cooked meat in your freezer saves so much time. If you meal plan, you’ll know to thaw it beforehand and then half the job will already be done when you get ready to cook dinner.

To make these sloppy joes in the crock pot, either brown your meat or use your already thawed pre-cooked meat and add the other ingredients together with it in a crock pot. Cook it on low for at least four hours or all day. I think cooking it slow in the crock pot will allow the flavors to blend even more, and might even make for a tastier sloppy joe!

Sloppy Joes

2 ½ pounds ground beef, browned and drained

½ large onion, diced

1 or 2 bell peppers (any color), diced

5 cloves minced garlic

1 ½ cup ketchup

1 cup water

2 T. brown sugar

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 T. worcestershire sauce

2 T. tomato paste

salt and pepper, to taste

Brown and drain ground beef. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft. Stir together ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, tomato paste and worcestershire until smooth. Add this along with the water to ground meat and stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve on warmed or toasted hamburger buns.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

KEY LIME PIE CUPCAKES

It was food day again at work last week and I wanted to take something other than the usual cinnamon rolls. I can always rely on Peabody for an interesting dessert item and these cupcakes did not disappoint. They taste just like key lime pie! They have a graham cracker crust topped wtih a moist cupcake with just a hint of lime flavor. Inside is a creamy marscapone cheese lime filling and they are topped with a buttercream frosting that’s also spiked with lime. I used a large star tip to pipe the tops of the cupcakes. Peabody dusts hers with graham cracker crumbs, but I didn’t since they had to travel to work. As I suspected, they ended up getting smashed on the way, but they were still quite a hit.

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Crust:

¾  cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/8 cup granulated sugar
3-4 TBSP melted unsalted butter

Prepare two muffin pans with liners. In a food processor, blend together graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add 3 TBSP melted butter. Pulse a few times. If it seems like it needs more butter add the remaining TBSP.
Distribute evenly among cupcake liners and press to form a shell using a spoon.

Lime Cake

2 ¼   cups cake flour
1 T. baking powder
½  tsp salt
½  cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 egg whites
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½  cup milk
½ cup buttermilk
1 T. lime zest

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg whites, beating well after each addition. Add eggs, beating well after each addition. Add lime zest. Beat until blended. Combine milk, vanilla, and buttermilk in a small bowl together. Whisk until incorporated. With electric mixer at low speed, add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beating well after each addition. Pour batter evenly into each muffin cup on top of the graham cracker crust. Only fill cups about halfway full as they will rise quite a bit and will run together. Bake 20-22 minutes(for full size cupcakes) and 15 minutes(for mini) or until wooden toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on rack.

Key Lime Pie Filling

8 oz mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 cup sweetened condensed milk

Place all ingredients in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and blend for 2 minutes. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Key Lime Buttercream Frosting

1 cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 lbs. powdered sugar
3 to 5 T. key lime juice
Milk, as needed to thin frosting

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and mix together until incorporated. Add key lime juice while continuing to beat. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Add milk as needed to until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You can also use more lime juice if you want a more tart flavor. But remember you already have lime in the cupcake and the filling.

To assemble:

Take key lime pie filling and place into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip or in a ziploc bag with the corner cut off. Take tip and place into cupcake squeeze filling into cupcake  using the cone method. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with crushed graham crackers, if desired.

Source: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody