Bill E’s Bacon – Fairhope, Alabama

You know I love my husband. The other day I asked him to go to the Apple Market which is not close to our house, but not terribly far either. It is just one of those place I do not get to often enough. I wanted some ham salad for Easter and it was great ham salad. [See post about letting others do things if they can do them better than you.]

Well, since the MotH had not been to Apple Market in donkey’s years, it was like a field trip for him and he just kept sending me photos at the office. One really struck a cord – Bill E’s bacon out of Fairhope, Alabama. It wasn’t ridiculously priced and, well, I am a sucker for local foods of all sorts. “Serenaded by Songwriters. Savored by Carnivores.” Interesting, if nothing else. Still not sure what it means. D&D_1831

Damn, I fried up a few strips to adorn the deviled eggs and the German potato salad for Easter brunch. That is totally gilding the lily.

Now, what do I do with the rest of it. Ah, we shall see. I love bacon-wrapped dates (or any dried fruit for that matter) stuffed with cheese, or even better some other piggy parts. Although that may be over kill.

This bacon is really smoky, so I think going with a dried fruit and some kind of neutral cheesy-ness that I think might be just amazing.   D&D_1833

Sour Cream, Chocolate Chip, & Butterscotch Chip Cake

Yes, I take the Oxford comma seriously. That said, this kind of cake just sounded a little too good to be true. However, I think it delivers. Sour cream gives it a tang, and chocolate chips are really pretty good, but add the butterscotch chips and it seems a good balance – but I do have butterscotch thing. Always had. My father used to buy me butter rum lifesavers and bring them home after work. I seemed to always be checking his shirt pockets for lifesavers and the butter rum and cherry were my favorites. . The MotH* tried it and had some suggestions that I think will be good the next time I make it. His idea is to leave off the butterscotch chips and add some chopped pecans (Renfroe Pecans = local pecans) and to be honest, I think I could do without butterscotch and chocolate and just put in the pecans and this cake would be just, pretty much amazing.dd_1549

1 1/2 cups (6.8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanillla
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips

Vanilla Icing – sorry did not do this, but if it works for you – go on then.**
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan – I just love baking spray – it makes this part easier.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda together over a piece of waxed paper.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the cooled butter, sugar, vanilla, sour cream, egg and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and stir until blended (batter will be thick), then stir in the chips. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then carefully turn from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

*Man of the House.

**Again, did not do this – it seemed to be gilding the lily, but I am not a fan of overly sweet things. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add the confectioners’ sugar and stir to coat it with butter – it will be thick and pasty. Slowly add the milk about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, mixing well and adding more until you get the consistency you like. Stir in the vanilla. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

Again, I think this vanilla icing is so not necessary. Just me though. To each her own.dd_1548

Source: Cookie Madness – once again. A great site with lots of recipes I really like. That does not mean I will not try modification of this idea – because that what people who cook/bake do. Everything is a springboard to something new.

Chicken Salad – one of my favorite things

I seem to get into a mood for chicken salad every so often. It really is kind of dead simple, but it takes, to my mind, a bit of finesse.

I poach the chicken breasts in just plain water. I could do it with salt, peppercorns, and a bay leaf or so, but if I do that I cannot share the chicken water with the pups. I would never deny them one of their favorite things – chicken water. It is amazing how fast they (or I should say Hood) realize what I am up to. I think it takes about a nano-second. Top it off with hard boiling some eggs and dogs just about lose their minds. It is kind of fun. To make your dogs so happy, by doing something that makes you happy too. I will not wax on about how I want another German Shepherd Dog at this point, but I really really do want another. He would never be Duke, but …. yep, I will just stop right now.

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No GSD will ever be better than my Big Dog. I miss you.

Back to chicken salad. I know you can make it with rotisserie chicken, but I am old school and like a poached chicken in this application. That along with a couple of hard boiled eggs*, a shallot, and some (peeled) celery. Of course Duke’s mayonnaise – a requirement in the South, a good pinch of salt and some pepper, and maybe a little lemon juice, just to brighten things up a bit. Then all you need is some fresh white bread spread with a little more Duke’s mayonnaise, and maybe another pinch of salt. That is amazing lunch.

MotH’s mom makes chicken salad with grapes and nuts and I do so love her for that, but I know the MotH and the Boy would just boycott that, even though it would be great for me. And it usually is – we share chicken salad and boiled collards. The boys just do not get it.

* The easiest way to make an excellent hard boiled egg that is still lovely (read: not green around the edge), is this: Put eggs in a pot, cover with about an inch of water and bring to a rocking boil. Then remove them from the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let sit for 13 minutes and you really have just about the best boiled eggs there are – just cover with cold water and crack them a bit against the pot and then shell. There it is – just make sure you have at least a couple for your dogs.

July, although hot beyond words, it my favorite month.

This is the month when I married the best man I have ever know, besides my dad. It was 14 years ago and the Boy was young, but very happy. We were so relaxed – it was almost stupid simple.

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Duke – the best GSD ever is in the background – too funny

I was an event planner for at least a decade before, although not a wedding planner – thank goodness! I planned events for a couple of universities. And to be honest, once you have been an event planner, it seems to me that planning – well it just does not matter much any more.

We were living in North Carolina together, but only after we were engaged and my dad had given his consent – so old fashioned I am. The MoTH drove to Chapel Hill and said, “Honey, I’m home.” And I knew I was done. It was the best thing ever.

Our anniversary is coming up this weekend. I am so very fortunate. We are the best of friends and can basically finish each others sentences. We do it all the time – yes, really all the time. Jinx, personal jinx, you owe me a soda. There is the Boy again. Yep.

I do wish we had at least Duke when we got married, because he would have been involved in the ceremony. As it was, the event woman at the Highland Lake Inn did not understand how I really did not care about much of anything – I’ll call the local florist and see what is left over from last weekend. See, we were married on a Tuesday. That tells you all – I just wanted him to be my husband. He makes me so happy. I am blessed beyond words.

I will post all the recipes that I made for our pre-wedding reception – it was pretty damn good – if I say so myself.

 

 

Apple Carrot Muffins – Leap Day

Leap Day – 29 February 2016

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Carrot, Apple, Walnut Muffins

I don’t think there is any Leap Day food, I look at is an extra day to make something in the kitchen. Bake, cook, maybe trying something new.

Yes, I think try something new. But what?

So after the Boy and I made an excellent carrot cake from a recipe from my friend we had some extra grated carrots left and I remembered having recently seen this recipe and thought it looked good. Also nice that I had everything on hand. Bonus! Another breakfast food, at least in my opinion. Carrot, Apples, Walnuts – um, duh.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups grated carrots, about 3
1 1/2 cups grated Granny Smith Apple, about 2
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you can get good ones)

Frosting:
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Find some spiffy cupcake liners (this is a new thing for me). Line cupcake pan with liners.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a measuring cup, mix together oil and eggs. Break the eggs up. Make a well and add oil and eggs, mix to combine. The add carrots, apples, and walnuts.

Spoon batter into liners, 3/4 full. Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Sift in confectioner’s sugar. Apply frosting to cooled cupcakes.

Source: adapted from a recipe at Simply Recipes.

I made these one night and thought I would frost them the next day but I tried one after they had cooled a bit and decided to skip the frosting. They are great with no frosting. Even MotH likes them and that is saying something. I guess if you frost them then you can call them cupcakes. But I’ll stick with the un-frosted muffin. Besides, that way I can eat them for breakfast and feel good about eating carrots, apples, and walnuts …. for breakfast!! Woo Hoo!

Another Brownie Cookie

Why am I doing this? I am not, again. a chocolate person. But since I made the first version and they were, on the whole, successful when I saw this, I figured what the hell. I mean, right? Let’s try to figure out a really good way to make the brownie taste in a cool cookie form. Cookies are so much easier to transport and deal with and to be honest, I may not be a huge brownie fan, but if I am going to have one – it MUST be an edge piece. And I make so much lemon stuff that my friends put up with, sometimes you do something that may not be your favorite, but that others will enjoy. I am pretty sure that being “that lemon person” does not win you any popularity contests in the baking world.

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Brownie Cookies

I also have to admit that this recipe kind of caught my eye for the name. Since we are very near to Christmas and I only watch two cartoons from my childhood any more – 1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 2. A Charlie Brown Christmas – great music in both in my opinion. But it is Lucy in ACBC that says,  “of all the Charlie Browns, you are the Charlie Brown-est.”

Yes, the cartoons also date me just a bit. That will be theme to this year. But it is better than the alternative.

The Browniest Cookies

1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter
4 ounces (115 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup (190 grams) dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1/2 cup (45 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, any kind will work
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (225 grams) chocolate chips or bitter- or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together — you can do this on the stove over very low heat, stirring constantly, in a double-boiler or in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each — and taking the chocolate out when it’s almost, but not fully, melted. Off the heat, stir until it is.

Whisk sugars into melted butter and chocolate, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Whisk in baking soda and salt. If your cocoa powder is lumpy, sift it right onto the surface of the batter, other wise, just add it to the bowl. Add flour, too, and then stir until just combined. Add chips or chocolate chunks and stir until combined.

Place bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes, and up to a few days. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Longer than 30 minutes, they become difficult to scoop, but you can let them warm up slightly before you do. Here was the issue for me. Once they were in the fridge for a couple of days, they were a nightmare to scoop and to be honest, didn’t spread at all. So I baked for 11 minutes, turning half way through, and then kind of smashed them a bit to finish them of for another 2-3 minutes so they got a great soft interior with a bit of crunch on the outside. Me being an edge person, this worked really well for me. Minor quibble, but worth mentioning in my opinion.

Scoop into about 1 1/2- to 2-tablespoon sized mounds and space evenly on parchment lined baking sheets, allowing room for them to spread a little – a very little.  Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, and if you want a fudgy cookie be done with it, but if you are like me and like a bit of crunch, mash them just a bit (with wet hands – melting chips do burn) and give them another minute or two.  Let set on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool the rest of the way before eating. Dust them with confectioners’ sugar sifted through a sieve just for looks, but I liked it.

Do ahead: The cookie dough keeps in the fridge for up to a week and longer in the freezer. The original recipe says that if you want slice n bake cookies, after 20 to 30 minutes in the fridge, scrape dough onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper and form into a 1 1/2- to 2-inch thick log. I may do that next time, but it worked fine just the way I did it this time.

I’m not sure which brownie cookie I like best. I’m waiting on the Boy’s vote. He is the lover of all thing brownie, but the MotH really like these, and that’s saying something.

Source: Smitten Kitchen