tips & tricks – bits & basics (part 3)

Freerange_eggs

by Connie Tucker

Saving time in the kitchen conserves a cook’s energy and saves money. Seasoned cooks know many of these tips and basics, but if you’re new to the culinary world, you’ll appreciate learning these bits and basics.

Cooking is a sort of chemistry experiment, after all. Mixing acids and bases and applying heat qualifies as science, so results should be consistent and predictable. So even if you flunked chemistry in high school, you can apply these principles with great success! Check out part-1 and part-2 tips and tricks columns on this blog, too.

Tips & Tricks (totally random)

  1. Onions – Too strong and pungent? Learn how to slice them first: cutting down through the width into rings will give you a lot of exposure to ruptured onion cells thus lots of tears and smelly fumes. Cutting into the side of the onion will give you less cell rupture and more friendly slices.
    TIP: After slicing either way, rinse with hot water for 45 seconds. Trust me—the onions won’t wilt because the  pectin that holds the plant cells together won’t melt till 185°, and tap water is usually around 140-150°. Onion slices will now be sweet and less pungent.
  2. Beans – When cooking dried beans, always salt the soaking and cooking water. Salt helps the skin stay intact and tender, preventing beans from “blowing out.” And always add your fully cooked (softened) beans to chili or baked bean liquid. Cooking them in an acidic stew of molasses or tomatoes before they are soft will toughen them or blow them out.
  3. Crème fraîche is easily made at home by mixing 2 Tbs. of buttermilk with 2 cups of heavy cream. Set aside on the counter covered with a tea towel 6-12 hours till thick. Afterward, store in a closed jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  4. How fresh are your eggs? Most cartons display a sell-by date and a packing date. The packing date is a 3-digit number above the sell-by date with 001 for January 1st to 365 for December 31. Always use this to determine freshness as eggs must be packed no later than 30 days after they are collected. Refrigerated eggs stay wholesome for 70 days.
  5. Fresh farm eggs (not commercially distributed) need no refrigeration because they are laid with a built-in “cuticle,” a natural waxy coating that seals the eggs’ contents keeping bacteria out and moisture in. Commercial eggs are washed and lose that protection so they need refrigeration.
  6. Test your eggs’ freshness by submerging them in water to cover. Older (but safe) eggs will stand up because a little air has gotten into the shell. Really old eggs will float and should be discarded.
  7. Egg shell color has no effect on its quality or flavor. Color varies according to the breed of the chicken.
  8. Skin is easily peeled from many fruits and vegetables (peaches, tomatoes, etc.) by placing them in boiling water for a few minutes then lifting them and plunging in ice water (this is called shocking). Skins will peel right off.
  9. When beating egg whites for meringue or other uses, place egg whites in an immaculately clean metal or glass bowl, and be sure beaters are also completely clean. Any trace of grease or oil (or yolk) will prevent the whites from frothing properly.
  10. When preparing strawberries for shortcake, hull and slice them, then sprinkle generously with sugar, toss, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours. This will bring out the juices in the fruit.
  11. Muffin batter should sit for about 20-30 minutes before it is placed in tins. The extra time allows the baking powder to work its magic for higher, lighter muffins.
  12. Always let meat rest after cooking. Juices excited by extended periods of heat need to settle before any meat is cut. This means steak, roasts, chicken—anything.

PRINT THIS POST CJ-Tips Pt 3

tips & tricks – odds & ends – bits & basics

Saving time and trouble in the kitchen conserves a cook’s energy. Seasoned cooks know many of these tips and basics, but if you’re new to the culinary world, you’ll appreciate learning these.

tips & tricks (totally random)

  • Add ½ cup of water or beef broth to 1 lb ground beef (or chicken broth to ground turkey or chicken) for the juiciest burgers ever.
  • Cookie and ice cream scoops make life easy. How have I lived without them all these years! Use them to make uniform size cookies and meatballs, dip batter into muffin cups, the list is endless.
  • For sky-high muffins, let batter sit in tins for about a half-hour before baking.
  • If using coarse or kosher salt, double the amount called for in recipes calling for regular table salt. The opposite also applies.
  • Freeze ground meat packed in 1-qt zipper freezer bags, and flatten to about ½ to ¾ thick, distributing evenly. Freeze flat. This takes only a half-hour or so to defrost.
  • Wrap chicken or pork chops separately (I use cheap sandwich bags), freeze 2 hours; place in a larger freezer bag. Pull out only pieces you need. No defrosting huge blocks of meat for hours!
  • Never buy scallions for $1 a bunch again! Cut off the white root ends. Put them in a glass jar with an inch of water, place on a sunny windowsill, and they will re-grow! Keep trimming off when you need green tops, and they’ll shoot up again! Trimming encourages growth. Mine shot up 8 inches in a week. You can also plant them in a pot after a while.

freezing veggies

  • Most vegetables like peas and green beans should be blanched before freezing. Blanching means boiling for three minutes or so (varies by vegetable), plunging into icewater to “shock,” draining very well, and wrapping securely before freezing. Blanching ensures your veggies will maintain their color and won’t get freezer burn if used within a reasonable period.
  • I always blanch my bell pepper halves before making stuffed peppers because they bake up so much more colorfully. Fresh sliced, halved, or whole bell peppers, however, can be placed in plastic bags and frozen dry without any need for blanching. So can sliced apples and berries.

basic recipes i can’t live without

homemade ranch dressing is so good, and it is SO much healthier than the bottled kind, which is loaded with sugar (Really! Have you read the ingredients?) This mixes up quick and easy.

  • ¾ cup buttermilk (Shake well!)
  • ¾ cup real mayonnaise (Do not substitute with Miracle Whip!)
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp each dried tarragon and basil (Essential!)
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Whisk together and refrigerate for a couple of hours if you have time. Make it on the fly, and it still tastes better than that stuff hiding in the valley advertised on TV. Add some fresh chopped chives just before serving. (Mine are coming up! So stoked!)

crumb topping can always be found in my ’fridge. I make it in triple batches and never have an excuse not to whip up an awesome pie. This topping bakes up golden-buttery and sweet and makes that second crust unnecessary. I’ve used it on apple, berry, peach, and rhubarb pies with great success.

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ stick soft butter
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Mix with your fingers till crumbly. Pile an inch or more deep on top of your pie and bake as usual. Double or triple so you always have it on hand. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly closed container. Makes a great topping for coffee cake, too!

basic quiche is a springboard for endless variations you can whip up in record time, amazing your friends and family! Well, maybe not quite that fab, but it’s a handy, delicious, and filling meal and makes great leftovers. I love my homemade crust, but I use the prepared rolled crust for my quiche. Add grated cheese (any kind), ham, cooked mushrooms, or whatever.

  • 2 cups shredded cheese (Swiss is traditional but not required)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat eggs. Add milk and salt. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Spread cheese (or any other stuff) evenly over top. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit 15 minutes before cutting. Great cold the next day!

basic crepes (pronounced kreps) are a meal or a starting point for fancier dishes. Whether served with fruit and eaten like pancakes or stuffed with savory crabmeat filling and smothered in Swiss cheese sauce, crepes are not only versatile—they are also convenient since you can make up a bunch of them and freeze for a quick meal on busy nights.

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • Dash of salt

Beat well. Batter should be thin, so add more milk if needed. Prepare a 10-inch nonstick frying pan by heating to medium and spaying lightly with cooking oil. When pan is hot enough (a drop of water dances around and disappears), pour in one third cup of batter and immediately swirl pan around to distribute so batter covers entire pan surface. When top is set and edges brown and begin to curl, flip crepe carefully. Cook till second side is lightly brown. Slide on to a large plate and cover with a damp tea towel till all batter is cooked. These can be rewarmed in the microwave and served right away or stored in the refrigerator or freezer separated by sheets of wax paper or parchment and well-wrapped in plastic or foil.

basic brown butter sauce is a delicious way to transform a plain pasta or rice meal into something special, and the ingredients are usually on hand or easily obtainable. This is a basic recipe, but there are endless variations with the addition of mushrooms, Parmesan or Romano cheese, fresh sage leaves (yummy), lemons, hazelnuts, or pine nuts, vegetables like parsley, chives, blanched green beans, asparagus, artichokes or cauliflower, and proteins like lobster, mussels, crab, scallops, or chicken. I’ve been making this on the fly, so thanks for the great directions from CD Kitchen!

  • Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) of salted butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and place in a 2-quart sauce pan. Place the pan of butter on a burner over medium heat. Bring butter to a slow boil (about 5 minutes).
  • Once the butter begins to boil, stir constantly to prevent residue from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the butter cooks, it will start to foam and rise. Continue stirring, otherwise the butter foam could overflow (about 5 minutes) and catch fire.
  • When the butter stops foaming and rising, cook until amber in color (about 1 to 2 minutes). It will have a pleasant caramel aroma.
  • Turn off the heat and remove pan from burner. Let the sediment settle to the bottom of the pan for a few minutes.
  • Pour the brown butter through a strainer into a small bowl. Do not disturb the residue at the bottom of the pan.
  • You can keep it hot over a double boiler. Brown butter can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in a microwave as needed, but be careful!
  • Boil your pasta of choice until al dente. Drain pasta and divide into four servings. Spread with 1/4 cup of hot brown butter.

Next time we’ll post additional basic recipes you can tuck away in your recipe notebook (you do have one, right?) and pull out when you’re in a bind or on a tight schedule. Add your own personal touch, and you’ll impress even your toughest critic.

Print this revised post: CJ-5-13-15-TIPS

“them that works hard eats hearty!” (part 2)

The Pennsylvania Dutch are known for their hard-working lifestyle where almost everything is done by hand. Imagine doing the family laundry in a tub? And can you appreciate the work that goes into plowing fields while walking behind a team of horses?

The bright side is that once you’ve expended all that energy, you can eat pretty much anything you want! This is one of the reasons the Amish and Mennonites are famous for their amazing desserts and breads. Here are a few of my favorites.

shoo-fly pie
While working at a commercial blood bank in West Philadelphia, I would go on a weekly “blood delivery run” to a Pottstown hospital that sat right on the edge of Amish country. Roadside stands were a welcome site, and I always stopped to buy a shoo-fly pie. If you like molasses, you’ll love this, but I warn you, it is an unconventional way to make a pie!

Ingredients
9-inch unbaked pie shell (easy crust recipe follows)
½ tsp baking soda
¾ cup boiling water
¾ cup molasses
½ cup brown sugar
1½ cups flour
¼ cup butter, margarine, or lard, softened

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium bowl, dissolve soda in boiling water, then stir in molasses.
2. In another bowl, combine sugar, flour and butter, and use your fingers to rub together to make crumbs.
3. Place a third of the crumbs into the pie shell and gently ladle all the molasses mixture over it.
4. Place remaining crumbs on top to cover evenly. Do not stir. Bake 35 minutes or until nicely browned.

pat-a-pan pie crust
This amazing crust needs NO mixing bowls and rolling pins! You mix and pat it in your pie pan. So easy and so Amish! If dough is too “short” and crumbly, add more milk a teaspoon or two at a time till dough holds together well.

Ingredients
1½ cups of flour
1½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil
3 Tbs cold milk

Directions
1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the pie pan and mix with fingertips until evenly blended.
2. In a measuring cup combine the oil and milk and beat until creamy.
3. Pour all at once over the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until the flour mixture is completely moistened.
4. Pat the dough with your fingers, first at the sides of the plate and then across the bottom.
5. Flute the edges. Shell is now ready to be filled.
6. If you are preparing a shell to fill later or your recipe requires a prebaked crust, preheat oven to 425°.
7. Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork and bake 15 minutes. Use pie weights or check often and prick more if needed.

amish coffee cake
This is quick, delicious, and needs no eggs!

Ingredients
1¼ cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour milk, buttermilk, or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
For the Topping: ½ cup brown sugar mixed with 1 Tbs cinnamon

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix the sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Then add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
2. Pour into a greased 13×9 inch pan. Sprinkle topping on top of batter.
3. Bake 45-55 minutes till edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

amish half-a-pound cake
This starts out in a cold oven—no preheating needed—and so nice for warm weather baking. You just need to remember to set the eggs and milk out on the counter for a couple of hours to warm them up a tad.

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
½ cup milk (room temperature)
½ tsp mace or nutmeg

Directions
1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 20 minutes.
2. Pour into a greased tube pan and place in a cold oven. Turn oven to 350° and bake for 1 hour till golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
3. Cool 20 minutes before removing from pan.
4. Run a knife around the perimeter and tube sides to loosen, then invert on a plate.
5. Dust top with powdered sugar.

jan hagels
These cookies are delicious as a treat year round. They are so easy to make and the almond flavor is wonderful.

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add egg yolk and almond extract. Stir in flour.
  3. Turn dough on to an ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 jelly roll pan or a similar size cookie sheet with raised sides. Spread evenly to edges.
  4. Beat egg white till foamy with very soft peaks. Spread over dough, sprinkle nuts over entire top. Combine 1 Tbs sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over top.
  5. Bake 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Cut into diamond shapes. Finish cooling in pan before removing to a plate to serve. Yummy! 

potluck supper apple cake
Most Amish farms include an apple orchard or at least a few trees, since apples are a staple in their diet. This makes a large size dessert and is great if you need to use up some fresh apples, and even if you don’t. Everyone will love it. Serves 15-18.

Ingredients
4 cups diced apples
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan with grease and flour.
  2. Do not use an electric mixer. In a mixing bowl, combine apples cinnamon, and sugar thoroughly. 
  3. Add eggs, oil, vanilla, soda, and salt. Stir gently.
  4. Add flour then nuts. Turn into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

PRINT THIS POST Amish pt 2 blog

holiday fare 2 colorful and tasty

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Many folks serve lasagna on Christmas Eve. Prepared ahead, it’ll feed an army. Instead, I like to make a colorful pan of stuffed peppers, and keeping all those holiday treats and calories in mind, I make it vegetarian, served with a nice salad. Double them if you’re entertaining. Here’s your complete, mostly red and green, Christmas Eve (or any eve) supper from breakfast with Overnight Coffee Cake, an appetizer, salad, and entrée for dinner, and a classic Wassail that you can make ahead.

cranberry orange cheese ball   A lovely combination and a great way to start a meal.

Ingredients for the Cheese Ball

  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 pkgs (8-oz ea) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

Ingredients for the Caramelized Pecans

  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs sugar

Directions

  1. Chop cranberries in a blender or food processor. Add cream cheese, juice, and sugar, and blend till well mixed.
  2. Use a rubber scraper to turn mixture out onto a piece of wax paper and shape into a ball as best you can. Place in a bowl and wrap with the wax paper. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. add pecans and sugar and stir about 3-5 minutes. Do not let it burn! Spread on sheet of wax paper or parchment to cool.
  4. When ready to serve, remove cheese from ‘fridge and shape into a ball. Pat pecans on to cover. Serve with crackers, celery and carrot sticks, or pita chips.

broccoli salad   This is Trisha Yearwood’s recipe. It is very good, and the sunflower seeds are a nice touch.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 cups broccoli florets, blanched for 3 minutes, shocked in icewater, and very well-drained
  • ½ small sweet onion, minced
  • ¾ cups golden raisins
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ jar pimentos, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 slices bacon, diced and browned
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix mayo, sugar, vinegar, raisins, onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Add broccoli and pimentos to coat.
  2. Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with bacon and seeds just before serving.

saucy stuffed peppers   I make these with tempeh, a fermented soy product found in the vegetarian section of your store. Healthy, tasty, and very good for you, you won’t miss the meat. (Of course you can use ground meat if you wish.) You can make these ahead without placing in sauce, wrapping the stuffed peppers individually in clear wrap or a plastic bag. 

Ingredients

  • 3 colorful bell peppers (I use red and green this time of year!), halved lengthwise, and seeded
  • 1 8-oz block of tempeh (I like the one with flax seed), crumbled
  • 6 lg or 12 sm fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3 Tbs Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 24-oz can Hunt’s Original spaghetti sauce (or your own homemade—even better!), divided
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Blanch seeded pepper halves by boiling five minutes. Handle carefully with tongs. Shock in icewater. Drain well.
  3. Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish with sauce reserving ½ cup for filling. Nest all six pepper halves into sauce, cut side up. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, place olive oil, and heat on medium till shimmering; add onions and garlic,, stirring often, for about four minutes till soft. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Add tempeh and press with a fork to improve the crumble texture.
  5. Add mushrooms and ½ cup reserved sauce, stirring to coat.
  6. Add bread crumbs, ¼ cup of the parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir well.
  7. Fill pepper halves with tempeh mixture, dividing evenly. Cover with foil and bake 20-25 minutes or till sauce is bubbling and peppers are tender..
  8. Mix mozzarella with remaining parmesan. Remove foil, sprinkle with cheese mixture; return to oven till cheese is melted and browning. Serve orzo pasta topped with a pepper half or two and a dollop of sauce.

Variation: If you need to double the servings to six peppers (12 halves), you can increase the filling without needing more tempeh by adding 6-8 more mushrooms, a can of well-drained petite diced tomatoes, and a half bag of washed baby spinach. Increase oil to 3 Tbs and double the breadcrumbs and cheese. Cooked rice can also help stretch it.

no-hassle wassail   Serve this tasty hot drink when the carolers come home from a frosty night of song. Or just anytime you’re in the mood for a sweet, spiced treat. You can cut ingredients in half for a smaller crowd. The rum is optional, of course!

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • ½ gallon apricot nectar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups dark rum
  • 6 cinnamon sticks

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Simmer until a heavenly aroma fills the kitchen.
  3. Transfer to a crockpot and keep warm while serving. For a fancier look, float orange slices decorated with cloves among the cinnamon sticks.

overnight coffee cake   Serve this to overnight guests or your family on Christmas morning. They’ll think you’re wonderful!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ¼ nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Grease a 9×13 pan. Set aside. Place flour, white sugar, sour cream, butter, half of brown sugar, eggs, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  2. Beat at medium speed till blended. Spread in prepared pan.
  3. Combine remaining brown sugar, nuts, and nutmeg. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  4. Next morning, preheat oven to 350°. Remove cover from pan and bake 35-40 minutes until it tests done.

Very aromatic, warm, and delicious.

Holidays are the perfect time to share food and fun with family and friends. I hope yours are blessed.

PRINT THIS PAGE: CJ-HOLIDAY2BLOG

mother’s day breakfast

CooksJ_logo

Most of the dishes I feature are personal favorites, some are new, and many come from family and friends. I pull recipes from all kinds of sources, including you! Just comment at the end of any post if you have any suggestions for additions or improvements to my recipes, or drop off a note to me at the Aroostook Republican office in Caribou, and I’ll get back to you.

These are the recipes that appeared in the newspaper this week, May 7, 2014. I’ve also added two bonus recipes that weren’t in the paper and will probably do that every time. I have found a way for you to easily print these from online. Just look for the link at the end of the post. This blog is still emerging, and the layout might change over the next few weeks as I get a feel for the formatting tools, but my goal is to make it as easy to navigate as possible. —Connie

MOTHER’S DAY RECIPES
Kids and Dads love to prepare breakfast on Mother’s Day. These recipes are so easy but so delicious. The first two recipes are similar but one is savory and the other sweet; both start out with a Yorkshire Pudding or “popover” kind of base.

Warning: Do not use skillets that cannot go into the oven, like teflon-coated or pans with plastic handles! Cast-iron or Guardian aluminum are best.

Toadinthehole
toad in the hole
Kids will get a giggle out of the name of this dish, which originates in England and is thought to get its name from how it resembled a toad poking its head up out of a hole. Serve it with a nice fruit cup or sliced strawberries on the side to provide a bit of texture variation and some acid to counter the richness.

1 scant cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
½ cup water
2 eggs
Half a pound of uncooked breakfast sausages (I like Jones brand)
1 Tbs butter

Preheat the oven to 400°. Mix the batter first so it has time to sit: Put the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl and pour in the milk and water. Whisk together, then beat in the eggs. Whisk until completely smooth and set aside.

Place a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat and put in the sausages. Cook, turning often, until they are browned on all sides. Put in the butter and let it melt; make sure the pan is well coated with fat (you might be able to skip the butter if your sausages are fatty enough). Arrange the sausages evenly in the pan, then give the batter another stir and pour it over. Pop the pan in the oven and bake 20 minutes, then turn down the heat to 350° and bake another 10 minutes.

Serves four if everyone behaves, but you might want to double it.

gigantic apple popover
This is a fun dish that will delight any mom!

2 apples, peeled and sliced
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar (or substitute Splenda)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp oil
2 packed Tbsp brown sugar (or substitute Splenda)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 425°. Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet and saute the apples over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add the sugar and cinnamon and cook just a little more, until soft but not mushy. Scrape them into a pie pan, arranging them to cover the bottom, and let cool.

Place the eggs, milk, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and beat well, then stir in the flour and salt. Whisk vigorously, and make sure it’s smooth, or you can use a blender or a hand mixer.

Pour the batter over the cooled apples and put the pan in the oven. Let bake 20 minutes, then turn down to 350° and bake another 20 minutes or until golden on top. DO NOT open the oven door while the popover is baking!

Cut in thick wedges, and serve hot or cold.

BONUS RECIPES

overnight coffee cake
This was my mother’s recipe. It is easy for kids to make the night before, and it will create a tantalizing aroma in the morning!

2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (divided)
1 cup sour milk, buttermilk, or sour cream (if available, but regular whole milk will do)
2/3 cups butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, your choice)
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl place flour, white sugar, milk, butter, ½ cup of the brown sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed till combined, then add eggs. When well-mixed, pour into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine remaining brown sugar with nuts and nutmeg. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

Next morning, preheat oven to 350°. Uncover pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Top should be golden brown.

Not just for Mother’s Day. This is great for Christmas morning or to serve to overnight guests. They’ll think you’re amazing. And you are!

PBSmoothie

peanut butter banana smoothie
This dish will intrigue and surprise Mom, but be sure to make enough for everyone!

2 bananas, broken into chunks
2 cups milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbs honey, or to taste
2 cups ice cubes

Place bananas, milk, peanut butter, honey, and ice cubes in a blender; blend until smooth, about 30 sec. Makes 4 servings. This one is addicting.

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