Chicken Potpie Soup and Homemade Crackers

Today we are experiencing round 2 of winter weather in the south! This particular storm system has everyone on edge because we could receive up to half an inch of ice in between layers of snow! If the ice doesn’t form, we could get up to 8 inches of snow.  Today’s snow is the wet, heavy kind…just perfect for packing into snowballs!  Round 1 of the snow which came about 2 weeks ago was very dry and airy and not good for packing.

This is the view I had out my kitchen window this morning:

003Yes, that is my Christmas cactus blooming for the second time!  It had about 7 blossoms on it in December, and now it has about 8 more!

Snowy weather is soup weather for me.  I love hot soups on cold wet days.  A few weeks ago, a friend from my high school days shared a recipe for Chicken Potpie Soup.  It sounded just wonderful.  I have a pot simmering on the stove right now for a late lunch today.  It smells fantastic and reminds me of the chicken potpies my mother used to make!

2 Tbsp. butter

1 cup cubed potatoes

1 cup chopped onion

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 med. Carrots, chopped

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

3 14.5 oz cans chicken broth

Flour – to desired thickness (about 1/4 cup)

2 c. shredded, cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works great)

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen corn

 

Heat butter; add potatoes, onions, celery & carrots.  Stir until onions are tender.  Stir in *flour and salt and pepper until blended.  Whisk in broth, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer until potatoes are tender.  Stir in rest of ingredients.  Heat through.  Serve with homemade crackers!

 

Homemade “Crackers”

2 cups flour

11/4 tsp. salt

2/3 cup shortening (butter flavor best)

5-6 Tbsp. milk

 

Mix flour and salt, cut in shortening.  Add milk, shape into a ball and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for 30 min or overnight.  Roll dough on floured surface to 1/8” thick.  Cut in desired shapes and size.  Bake at 425 for 8-11 min.

 

Cranberry Pecan Muffin Mix In a Jar

We are already a week into December, and the Christmas festivities are in full swing!  Today I spent some time with a dear friend who helped me make a wreath for my front door, and tonight Sam is over on campus at the Christmas Carol Sing and Lighting Ceremony!

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Shopping is started (finally), and the challenge to keep to the budget is…well, challenging!  Homemade gifts are  always welcomed by those receiving them, and they are fun, thoughtful, and less expensive than purchased gifts.  Cookie mixes or muffin mixes in jars make wonderful gifts.  They are often easy enough to make that even small children can help create them.  Why not consider making some of these to give this year?

1-quart canning jar with a tight-fitting lid

1 c chopped pecans

1 c. dried cranberries

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1-3/4 c. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2-1/2 tsp. baking powder

Layer the ingredients in order in the 1-quart Mason jar. Lightly pack down the ingredients before adding the next layer.  Put lid on the jar and cover with a pretty piece of Christmas fabric using a piece of ribbon to hold it in place. Write out the following directions and attach to the jar.

1 jar Cranberry Pecan muffin mix

3/4 c. milk

1 stick butter, melted

1 egg, slightly beaten

Pour contents of jar into large mixing bowl. Combine milk, butter and egg in separate bowl, mixing well.  Add to jar mixture and stir until just moistened. Spoon evenly into 12 greased muffin cups.

Bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan for about 5 minutes. Remove to rack to cool completely.

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Pumpkin Muffins

Thanksgiving week already??  Where has 2013 gone?  I can’t believe we are in the last week of November, Thanksgiving is just days away, and that my Citadel cadet is home for a few days!  And even though you can’t go shopping anywhere without hearing Christmas music, I am still a firm believer in waiting for any Christmas decorating or even music until AFTER Thanksgiving!

These little Pilgrim candles are my favorite fall decoration.  My mom would set them out every November while I was a little girl growing up!  I can’t have Thanksgiving without them!

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As most of you know, I love all things pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon at any time of year, but especially during the fall months.  This morning I made these amazing pumpkin muffins from a recipe found in one of my Betty Crocker cookbooks.  They are easy to make and are just great for a quick breakfast.

1 egg

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. canned pumpkin

1/2 c. raisins (I used golden raisins)

1/4 c. butter, melted

1-1/2 c. flour (I used half whole wheat)

1/2 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Grease bottoms only of 12 medium muffin cups, or line each with cupcake paper.  Beat egg; stir in milk, pumpkin, raisins and butter. Stir in remaining ingredients all at once just until flour is moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. sprinkle 1/4 tsp. sugar over batter in each cup if desired. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, about 20 minutes.   Makes 1 dozen.

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Raisin Buttermilk Coffee Cake

I am exhausted!  We just finished 5 days of VBS at our church, and we had more children this year than we have ever had before!!  Have you ever experienced the energy of over 150 children for 3 hours at a time??  It was a wonderful week, and I am very thankful to have been able to be a part of it!

I tried to make a special treat to take to VBS each day this week especially for the workers who volunteered their time to help out.  I didn’t try any new recipes, but used my tried and true ones!

And many  thanks to my readers!! We hit the 9000 mark for views to the blog yesterday!!!

This coffee cake recipe is found in one of my Best of Country Cooking cookbooks. I have made it quite a few times in the past for my own family.  It goes together easily and is a great treat for a mid-morning snack.

1 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. chopped nuts

1/3 c. butter, softened

2 tbsp. flour

4 tsp. ground cinnamon

BATTER:

1/2 c. butter, softened

1-1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs

3 c. flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 c. buttermilk

1 c. raisins

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in raisins.

Spread half of mixture into greased 13×9 pan. Sprinkle with half the crumb mixture. Carefully spread with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Makes 12-15 servings.

*I was out of raisins, so I sprinkled some mini chocolate chips over the top before I baked it.

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Bread Machine Bagels

004This recipe is absolutely delicious!!  A friend gave it to me over a year ago, but I had never made it until today.  Eaten just out of the oven or cooled and served with cream cheese, these bagels are great for breakfast or any time of day!

Put the ingredients into your bread machine according to manufacturer’s instructions and use the dough setting.

1 c. very warm water

1/2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

3-1/4 c. flour

1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder

1/2 Tbsp. yeast

1 egg white, beaten

toppings such as sesame seeds, coarse salt, garlic, etc.

After your machine is done, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Slightly flatten each piece into rounds and use your thumbs to make a one-inch hole in the middle of each.  Place on greased baking sheet, cover and let rise about 30 minutes.

In a large sauce pan, bring about 8 cups of water and 2 Tbsp. sugar to a boil.  Gently place just 2 bagels at a time into the boiling water and simmer for about 3 minutes, turning only once.  Using a slotted spoon remove bagels from water and place on greased baking sheet.  Brush each with egg white and sprinkle with topping of your choice.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

English Muffins

It’s hard for me to believe that we are already near the end of April!  The Cookbook Experiment will be 3 years old next week! Over these 3 years we have had almost 8500 views to our 220 posts!  Thank you, readers, for your support!

We have had lots of rain over the last several months which has brought us out of drought conditions for the first time in over three years!  I am so glad! We’ve gotten most of our garden planted recently, so I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to be cooking with fresh herbs and veggies again!  I am very excited to note that while I usually suffer from spring allergies with all the yucky pollen in the air, this year has been different! About a year ago, I began taking a tablespoon of local honey every morning with my tea. I’d heard that local honey helps with allergies.  I think that it certainly has helped me!  I have made it through the month of April with no allergy issues at all.

We loved English muffins when I was growing up.  They were part of my mom’s special Saturday Morning Breakfasts.  Until recently, I had not seen a recipe for English muffins. I do have a recipe for English muffin bread, but it is rather gooey and doesn’t hold its shape well enough to make it into muffins.   I found this recipe in a magazine I was reading a few weeks ago at the auto repair shop.  Since the magazine was several months old, I asked the owner if I could tear it out.  He just laughed and said yes!

I love the flavor of these muffins!  They are great toasted and served with plenty of butter and your favorite jam or some of that local honey!

2 c. buttermilk

3-3/4 c. bread flour, plus more as needed (I used all-purpose)

4-1/2 tsp. (2 pkgs) instant dry yeast

2 tbsp. sugar

1-1/2 tbsp. salt

2 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. butter at room temperature

Cornmeal for dusting

In a saucepan warm the buttermilk over low heat until just starting to steam. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, and salt on low speed. Add buttermilk in a steady streeam, then add honey and butter and mix until dough is almost smooth, about 3 minutes. Add a little more flour if dough is very sticky. You shouldn’t need more than an extra 1/2 cup.  The dough should pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl and can be shaped into a loose ball…still slightly sticky.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in refrigerator from 2 to 24 hours.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place dough onto a work surface generously dusted with cornmeal. Pat or roll out dough to about 3/4 inch thick.  Using a 3-inch cutter (I used a glass) cut into 12 rounds. Knead scraps together and reroll to get all 12.  Transfer rounds to the prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely and let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes.

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Heat oven to 350. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until very hot. Brown both sides of each muffin round about 3-5 minutes each side. Return to baking sheet. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until puffed, golden brown and the sides feel set but still soft.

To serve, split with a fork and pop into your toaster. Spread with butter and your favorite jam!

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The Club Orange Rolls

It certainly is spring here in the south! Last week it was sunny and about 73 degrees. Yesterday was rainy and only 38 degrees with a wind which made it feel even colder!  Today is sunny and 68!  I really don’t mind the cooler temperatures!  It will be very hot in just a few short weeks and we will be wishing for cooler air.

This recipe was shared with me by my friend Lisa. Lisa and I met when we were college freshmen many years ago.  We recently reconnected on Facebook and have had fun catching up.  I had wanted to make these for Easter breakfast, but since they are yeast rolls, they do take a bit of time. I made them on Saturday instead.

1 pkg yeast

1/4 c. warm water

1/3 c. sunflower oil (I used coconut oil.)

1 c. sour cream

1/4 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. salt

3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

1/2 c. sugar

1 c. flaked coconut

2 tsp. grated orange rind (I used 3 tsp.)

2 tsp. melted butter

Glaze:

1 c. powdered sugar

1 tbsp. grated orange rind

1 tbsp. orange juice

Dissolve yeast in water in large mixing bowl. Add oil, sour cream, sugar, eggs, and salt mixing well.  Add flour to make a soft dough. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled…about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Combine sugar, orange rind, and coconut in small bowl.  Punch down dough and divide into two pieces.  Roll each piece out into rectangle about 6×10 inches or so. Brush each with melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar/orange rind mixture. Roll each rectangle up from the short side and pinch shut.  Cut each roll into 6 pieces and place pieces in greased muffin tin.

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Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes. Bake in preheated oven at 250 degrees (Yes, that is correct!) for about 20 minutes. Do not brown!  Mix glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm rolls.  Enjoy!

Sour Dough Raisin Nut Bread

A few weeks ago when we went to Charleston for Corp Day at The Citadel, we stayed with our friends, the Walters.  As in the past, I came home with another delicious recipe. This time it was for a variation of the sour dough bread that I usually make on a weekly basis.  This bread is just amazing!  The whole family loves it!

Awhile ago I shared my recipe for making sour dough starter and bread.  Here is the recipe for the starter again and the new recipe for the nut bread.

STARTER:

In a one-quart mason jar pour 1 c. hot tap water; 1/2 c. sugar; 3 tbsp. potato flakes; and 2 tsp. yeast.  Stir well to dissolve most of the sugar.  Screw on the lid and leave the jar sitting out for 12 hours. Refrigerate for a few days.  Feed the starter a day or so before you want to make bread to increase your amount of starter.   To feed, add 1 c. hot tap water; 1/2 c. sugar and 3 tbsp. potato flakes.  Stir well and cover.  Leave out on counter for 12 hours.  Refrigerate or use to make bread.  Once you get enough starter, you should be able to  feed your starter after you have taken out what you need for your bread.  Make sure to keep it in the fridge after the 12 hours on the counter!  Many people say that you must feed  your starter every 3-5 days whether you use it or not.  I have found that not to be necessary.  My starter seems to thrive on neglect!  I just feed it when it is getting low!

RAISIN NUT BREAD

This recipe calls for three ‘standing’ times, so plan to make it a day or so before you actually want it.  I followed this exactly the first time I made it, but cut back on the standing times the second time.  The results were the same!

1-1/2 c. starter

1/2 c. oil

1-1/2 c. warm water

1/3 c. honey

2 c. bread flour

1 c. raisins and/or craisins

Mix all of the above ingredients well and let stand 4 to 24 hours.

After standing time, add:

1 tbsp. salt

2 c. bread flour

2 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. sunflower seeds or 1 c. chopped pecans (or a mix of both!)

Mix well and let stand 8-24 hours.

After standing time, knead bread. Divide into 2 large or 3 medium sprayed bread pans. Let rise 8-12 hours.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

*I used my standing mixer and just left it in the mixing bowl each standing time.

**I needed to cut back the time the second time I made this recipe, so I added 1-1/2 tsp. yeast to the first mixture and cut the standing time to 2 hours.  This allowed the second standing time to be cut back to about 4 hours, and the 3rd rising time to about 4 hours.   Of course, it isn’t a true sour dough if you add yeast, but it still tasted amazing!

Apple-Cinnamon Banana Bread

Here is another recipe that has that wonderful autumn aroma of cinnamon and apples!  And it is oh, so yummy!  I must give credit to the creator of the initial recipe. You can find it over at http://www.beantownbaker.com/2011/04/cinnamon-banana-bread.html.  I took her recipe and just tweaked it a little since I didn’t have any cinnamon chips or enough bananas to do the trick.

1-1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I used 1-1/2 tsp)

1 c. uncooked old fashioned oats

1/2 c. cinnamon chips

1 tbsp. oil

2 eggs, beaten

3 large ripe bananas (I used 1-1/2 bananas and about 3/4 c. chunky cinnamon applesauce)

1 tbsp. sugar + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon mixed together

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Stir together the first 8 ingredients.  Mash the bananas then add the oil and eggs (and applesauce) and mix thoroughly.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the cinnamon chips.  Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until the top of the loaf is firm to touch and a toothpick comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes. Turn out on wire rack to cool. Serve warm.