Breakfast Sausage & Sweet Potato Muffins

I am a total fan of breakfast muffins as long as sausage is included. I mean what other kind of muffin does one want? One without sausage?  I may just cook sausage because I want some with real Maple syrup – from Two Pigs Farm. Hot breakfast sausage with really good real maple syrup – those two things are amazing.

dd_1635

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup mashed sweet potato
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 pound bulk hot sausage, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, oats, allspice, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl, combine sweet potato, eggs, butter, oil, and syrup. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed. Do not over mix. Fold in the sausage.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes  out clean. Cool for five minutes then move to cooling rack. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Source: ChowHound

“Keebler’s” Pecan Sandies

dd_1625I totally have a soft spot for pecan sandies – always have had. Over a decade ago I started making them from scratch and have never looked back. I have several recipes I like but so far my first one has been my favorite one.

This is a new recipe to try and displace my current leader.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Sugar for rolling

Sift together over waxed paper, flour, baking soda, cream of tartar,salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, canola oil, sugar, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat the egg in, then stir in vanilla.

Mix the flour mixture in the butter mixture. Mix in pecans. Chill for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll into sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake 10 – 12 minutes or until edges are golden. Do not over bake. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen.

~~ Now, can I compare this to the Keebler’s version of pecan sandies, probably not. That would involve buying cookies, and I just cannot rationalize doing that when there are so many more recipes to try. That said, these were good, but I still prefer my old reliable. Everyone else liked them though, so that is a good thing.

Source: http://buttercreambarbie.blogspot.com/

Thanksgiving 2016 – To Do List by Date

I will probably post this after Thanksgiving just to see if I can make it all happen – likely it will not happen in this particular way. We shall see.  Sad that I do not have a lot of confidence in this schedule. Or maybe pretty much everyone else is just like me – we think about too much and then start paring back because we have to.

18 Nov Thursday –  Check Ingredients / Grocery List / To-Do List by Date (this list)

19 Nov Friday – Grocery shopping in the afternoon.
Cranberry Sauce
Mini Cheese Ball mixture, no pecans yet
Tassie Dough

dd_165120 Nov Saturday – Spinach Dip
Roast Sweet Potatoes

21 Nov Sunday – Rosemary Cashews
Bake Tassies – nope, skipped this, at least for Thanksgiving. Dough will keep in the fridge for a bit. 

22 Nov Monday – Assembly Sunday Sweet Potatoes with topping separate
Roast Shallots – nope, didn’t do it. Mayhap next year.

23 Nov Tuesday – Warm Potato Salad. Keep bacon to the side to top on turkey day.
Final Grocery Run

24 Nov Wednesday – Catch Up Day
Make No Roll Pie Dough
Bake Pecan Pie
Make 2 pans of cornbread. 9 x 9 inch pans.

25 Nov Thursday – Oven dry broken pieces of cornbread 250 degrees for an hour. Turn half way through.
Make Dressing. Woo hoo – I think this is the deal.
Bake Sweet Potatoes
Heat ham (for The Boy)



Thanksgiving

So I have mostly always made my same Thanksgiving appetizer, and I have to say it really is pretty much amazing. Sweet potato biscuits with ham and horseradish cream.  Just going to say, thank you once again to JW because this was all him. He was the best caterer for UNC-Chapel Hill while I was there and I totally took the idea and ran with it.DD_0184

Even so, I wanted to find a new appetizer for this Thanksgiving. But I do think I will make my small little sweet potato biscuits with all the best things, just because I can. But maybe this year my excellent cranberry sauce will be part of this mix.  Indeed.

That said, I have been looking for Thanksgiving appetizers – they all seem to involve cranberries or Rosemary – thank you most overwhelming pinterest. Sigh. Do love some Rosemary, but isn’t there anything else?

When I was young, Thanksgiving was a huge deal at our house. The only downer part about it was being stuck at the kids’ table. Really? Ugh. I understand that my older brother and sister were a LOT older and were pretty much married by the time I was 9-ish, but I was stuck with my younger sister and nieces and nephews – it was just insulting.

One of those weird things that I remember was a glass dish that my mother would take out for Thanksgiving and put gerkins on one side and olives on the other. Olives = ick. Gerkins = loved them. Besides Bread ‘n Butter pickles, gerkins were the only pickles I ever liked.

I  can totally see that glass dish. Should have asked for it long ago and now it is too late. Let that be a lesson – do not wait –  ask for what you want from your parents because if you do not you will be forever disappointed. I know I will be giving things away very early – like my Dad’s mom did. Simplify everything.

That just got slightly strange – but on to the Thanksgiving plans. And planning is involved – lots of it.

Apparently spell check does not like the word gerkins. No, it sure doesn’t.

So we are about a week-ish out from the big day and, my friends, this is go time.

1. Make decisions on what to make and how much depending on your guest list – my list, this year, is small. But that is not a bad thing because The Boy will be joining us and that makes me very happy.

2. Develop a grocery list of what you need and when you need to buy it. And then develop the “making” list – ie. when you can/will make each thing, but do what I do … plan for a catch up day on the Wednesday before the big day. That day, with nothing planned, will save you.

3. Order your turkey from the butcher shop. And also call your favorite bakery to order Parker House Rolls – I have been doing this forever. No need to make yourself crazy at this point. They will, pretty much, be better than anything you can make – unless you are making biscuits for Thanksgiving – and in that case, I salute you.

4. Pick one, just one, no seriously just one, new recipe to try. I will try.

5. Figure out what appetizer to make. Just don’t go overboard – less is more in this case. See above.

6. Add staples (butter, eggs, heavy cream, lemons, chocolate chips, local pecans, etc.) to your regular grocery list.

7. Watch grocery ads for Thanksgiving specials. Traditional there are lots of them. Hello fresh cranberries.

8. Decide if you want girkins. Hope you do for my sake.

Lemon Crisps

I do not even have an excuse to make another lemon cookie. Nope, none at all. So there it is.  I am doing it again. These were really good. This is a new-to-me recipe and I just could not help myself. Indeed. Sometimes I just make cookies for me and eat, like 2, and then share them. It may not make much sense, but baking, and cooking, is just experimental for me. Once I’ve tried the result, I can make a decision about what to change and adjust. Or whether to abandon the whole idea – done that several times. But not this time. dd_1608

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Cream together butter and sugar and then add egg, juice, zest, and vanilla. Sift in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Drop by 1 1/2 tsp onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges.

Let cool on sheet one minute before moving to cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Lemon Glaze
4 Tbs lemon juice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Beat together and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Source: http://whisk-kid.com/2009/08/inner-child-lemon-cookies.html

Best Pecan Sandies, um, ever

These pecan sandies are just that – sandy. I am just not sure that another version could take their place – nope, but I have a couple of other recipes for pecan sandies just to try. And prove to myself that these are, by far and away, the best. I have no doubt about it.dd_1607

16 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla, but pretty much as you want
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, chopped – Renfroe’s to be sure.
Sanding sugar, for rolling

In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and 1/3 cup sugar and salt until light and fluffy.^ Add in vanilla, once again, as much as you would like. Add flour and mix, scraping the bowl down as you go. Add the pecans and mix until incorporated. Divide dough in half and form into two inch thick logs. Wrap tightly in cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Working with one log at a time, cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake 25 – 30 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden on the edges, making sure to rotate pans half way through.# Let cool on sheet for one minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I think slice and bake cookies are dead simple, and they are. And I will say it once again, this is my go-to recipe for pecan sandies.

^ what, exactly, does that mean. Really? Not sure.

# something you should always do

Butter / Egg Usage – September 2016

8 September 2016 – Rice Krispie Treats – 3 Tbs – regular plain old rice krispie treats that I love.

9 September 2016 – Brickle Bits of Snicks – 8 Tbs / 2 large eggs – for Chad.

dd_156222 September 2016 – Rice Krispie Treats with brown butter, vanilla, and sea salt – 4 Tbs

23 September 2016 – Apple Cake – 2 large eggs

Sad, sad month of baking/cooking. Sigh. Still damn hot outside. That is our life, but I will be wearing shorts a lot longer than most of you. Just saying.

“Meyer” Lemon Bars

I have this habit of asking people what they would like me to bake or cook for them. It keeps me interested in baking and cooking and pushes me outside of what I typically do. I do it at work, “what do you guys want me to make for the pot-luck?” and I do the same thing at my favorite restaurants. I think restaurant staff is not appreciated enough. Guess that comes from being a server ages ago. I hope they appreciate it, but it is more to get me to try to do different things.dd_1599

So I asked Berta, at my beach local, to tell me what she would like in the baking department, and she said my baking nemesis – lemon bars. I have not had good luck with these in the past – at all. That said, I was going to give it another go – it is a challenge after all. And I never back down from a challenge.

This is a recipe on my little USB drive of recipes that I have been working on for ages and I just sort of picked it out of the two I had. It was daunting – I have to admit that I was not comfortable trying this idea again. I did this on a Thursday because I figured if I fucked it up, I would have Friday to try again. And I am really not scared in the baking department, but you never know if things are going to go pear-shaped.

I have to say, I just cut a corner out of this and just got stupid over how good it was. That is, indeed, a good sign. I guess when I get silly about something in the kitchen, that makes me happy and pleased with myself. And that makes me think it will be something other people will like too.

Personally, I would like to keep the entire pan of these lemon bars to myself, but I won’t. But I will damn sure to make this recipe again. The original called for Meyer lemons, but I only have those when my (precious) little tree produces Meyer lemons and this is totally the wrong time of year, so I just used regular lemons. It was amazing. Stupidly so. Yeah me! yep.

Meyer Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

I think I made a few friends with these – at least I really hope so. Berta loved them and her daughter asked for them on her birthday at the end of November. I guess there are more lemon people than I had imagined. I shared one of my favorite lemon things ever – lemon, white chocolate chip cookies – they sound slightly weird, but they are stupid good.

And then in my head – lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another person that is a lemon person. I think we have to stick together. There just are not that many of us. Lemon People Unite – or something?  No, that just does not work. I guess you chocolate people have us outnumbered. Again.

Shortbread

Shortbread is an odd little cookie if you ask me. It is not sweet, much, and can be a bit difficult to work with, but I am a fan. Although it is not the first thing I would go for in the baking/cookie department. I think is pretty much amazing with tea though, I guess that is because it is a Scottish biscuit in origin. And I have to say, I do sort of mess with the general idea of shortbread – see: vanilla and sanding sugar.dd_1583

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted*
1/2 -3/4 tsp vanilla (optional, well, not really)
Sanding sugar (optional, nope, not really)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until slightly lighter in color and smooth. Sift confectioners’ sugar and salt over a piece of waxed paper. Beat with butter until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add a bit of vanilla if preferred.

Sift flour over waxed paper. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Scrape soft dough onto plastic wrap. Cover with more plastic wrap and pat until a bit thin. Rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour – it needs to be firm to the touch.**

Using flour, roll out shortbread dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Use your favorite cookie cutters (my mom’s) or a biscuit cutter and put the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cool the cookies in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or whatever sugar you feel inclined to use.

Bake until the tops are golden, about 12-14 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

* confectioners’ sugar always needs to be sifted. It is just a given.

** I chilled overnight because I am kind of lazy that way. Well, not really. Here’s the deal – I make a dough one night and bake it later, usually the next day. It works because I can do each step – make and then bake the next day – because during the week my baking occurs after work. I also justify this by the fact that I have read that cookie dough gets better with a bit of time in the fridge. Sure – that works for me – after all I’m making cookies during the week, not just on the weekend.

I have had this recipe in my cookie binder, yes, I have that, for a long time and I think trying to find the source of this recipe when the title is only “shortbread” is nigh on impossible. So I won’t but will thank the gods that be for a pretty good recipe that I messed with just enough to make be really happy.