Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cheddar Bay Biscuits Copycat

I mentioned in yesterday‘s Colcannon Soup post that a slab of Irish Soda Bread goes very well alongside this delicious and hearty soup. Well, yes it does, but I didn’t have any Irish Soda Bread. I did, however, have a huge craving for the Cheddar Bay Biscuits that makes Red Lobster well worth a visit, so decided to make my own. Oh, momma, these are heavenly! And they’re so easy, and you can eat them in your pajamas without having to get into the car and drive to Red Lobster. Give them a try! No doubt you probably have all the ingredients already on hand. You won’t be sorry.
Cheddar Bay Biscuits Copycat

2 cups Bisquick baking mix
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of Old Bay seasoning

Heat oven to 425° F.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together Bisquick, milk, cheese, garlic powder, and Old Bay until a soft dough forms.

Drop by 1/4-cupfuls (I used an ice cream scoop) onto a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Brush or spoon Herb Butter Topping over hot biscuits before removing from cookie sheet.

Herb Butter Topping

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch paprika

Stir together and brush onto hot biscuits.

For more delicious copycat recipes, I recommend this book:
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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Colcannon Soup

St. Patrick’s Day falls in the middle of a month where the weather can often be unpredictable. One day it’s warm and feels like spring, the next you’re wondering if winter is ever going to leave. So, in the same way that soup feels so warm and satisfying in October, it does as well in March.

Because of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, I’m thinking about all kinds of Irish dishes, and today I am giving you one of my favorites in soup form. Yes, colcannon, that wonderfully delicious mashed potato and cabbage dish that pairs equally well with bangers as it does corned beef, also makes a hearty, delicious, and warming soup. You can leave it as is if you like your soup extra chunky, or, do you like I did here, and give it a hit or two with an immersion blender. It is wonderfully delicious, particularly with a slice of Irish soda bread on the side.
Colcannon Soup

4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 6-oz. pkg.
Melissa’s cleaned and sliced Leeks
1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
10 oz.
Melissa’s Dutch Baby Yellow Potatoes, cubed
1/4 teaspoon
garlic powder 
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  Few gratings fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fry bacon in a large stock pot until crisp and the fat is rendered. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a paper
towel-lined plate.

Add leeks and cabbage to the pan with the bacon fat. Stir to coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks and cabbage are tender. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer; stir in flour and cook for one additional minute.

Add wine and simmer for two minutes until mixture begins to thicken. And potatoes, bacon, chicken stock, garlic powder, onion powder, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes reach desired tenderness.

Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Leave as is, or blend a portion with an immersion blender for added creaminess.

Serve garnished as you see fit.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Daisy Cakes Bakes by Kim Nelson, Reviewed

If you’re not familiar with Daisy Cakes, let me educate you. Daisy Cakes is a South Carolina-based mail-order bakery that will deliver, to your home, the most delicious Southern cakes you can imagine. They don’t come cheap, as you can also imagine, but the good news is that Daisy Cakes founder, Kim Nelson, has just published a book called Daisy Cakes Bakes: Keepsake Recipes for Southern Layer Cakes, Pies, Cookies, and More released TOMORROW, and all of the recipes are within! 
If a non-baker like me is going to recommend a baking cookbook, then you know it’s got to be good. There’s so much more here than the delicious cakes, mouthwatering pies, and, my favorite dessert of all, cookies. You will also find wonderful recipes for sauces, glazes, ice creams, and custards. 
The selection of recipes is one of the most unique I have ever seen. Although I’m not known to be a pie person, I am totally intrigued, and will definitely be trying, the Long Island Iced Tea Pie. Imagine, if you will, a pie that contains dark rum, vodka, gin, and tequila. What’s not to like about that? Another one that lured me in is the Caramel Pie with the mile high meringue. I cannot resist anything caramel. 
When it comes to cookies I will be trying the Mocha Cappuccino Cookies, Butter Brickle Cookies, and, who could resist a cookie called Chocolate Pillows, something that I would probably like to sleep on at night. 
This book has so much to offer in recipes, and is loaded with mouthwatering pictures, something I have come to demand in a cookbook. Let me tell you there was drool aplenty as I paged through the book for the first time. I’m not kidding, everything looked delectable! I can personally vouch for the Chocolate Pudding, that came to my rescue one day when I invited company for dinner, and had absolutely nothing for dessert. This came together in a hurry, and was sumptuous. 
The recipes are all preceded by a homey story about the author, her family, and the recipe’s origin. Concisely written and easy to understand, these are recipes for delicious baked goods that can be made with items that you already have in your pantry.

Buy one for yourself and treat a friend. You will love it!

Disclaimer: I received this book through in exchange for an honest review.

Chinese Butter Cookies

Cookies are my undoing, particularly small, cute, tasty cookies. And it is because they are my Achilles’ heel that I decided to bake up a batch of these Chinese Butter Cookies that I found in the wonderful Chinese Takeout Cookbook by Diana Kuan. My only experience with Chinese cookies is almond cookies (that surely would have been a lot easier to make than these), and Fortune Cookies. These appealed to both my artistic side, and my love for butter cookies, so I decided to whip up a batch.

Anyone who bakes (and as I’ve told you I don’t do it, and I don’t like it), will have no problem with these. Me? I had trouble. Lots and lots of trouble. I’m not a fan of the cookie press. I have one, buried in the back of the pantry behind things I haven’t used in years. So, I decided that, instead of
using the cookie press, I would simply use a pastry bag and pipe the dough. Big mistake. What a colossal mess that was! This dough is too stiff to pipe, be warned. I ended up with the biggest mess that you can imagine. Cookie dough everywhere, cookie dough-covered hands, expletives flying, the works! Eventually, I knew that I was going to have to get out the cookie press.
So, after a quick cleanup, I decided to empty out the pantry in order to get to the cookie press. It’s been a long time since I last used it, and I had completely forgotten how. So, after washing up the cookie press, there was a bit of a learning curve involved. The first batch looked like little blobs, so I had to get a rubber spatula and scrape them off of the cookie sheet and back into the bowl. The second batch didn’t look too much better because I used parchment on the cookie sheet (as called for in the recipe) and that didn’t work at all! Every time I would lift up the cookie press it would pull the dough and the parchment up off of the cookie sheet. 

Parchment is not needed here, there is enough butter in this dough that these cookies aren’t going to stick to anything. So I’ve eliminated that aspect in my version of the instructions. I’m not going to make the story any longer than it already is, suffice it to say, that these cookies are so good, that I now have the cookie press on a reachable shelf, and doesn’t that just say everything?
Chinese Butter Cookies
Slightly adapted from Chinese Takeout Cookbook

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a stand mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly sift in the self-rising flour and beat until a smooth dough forms.
Add the dough to a cookie press and attach a star or flower-shape disk. Press the cookies onto baking sheet, leaving 1 inch of space around each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing. The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Crab Rangoon Wonton Cups

I know that I’m not alone when I say that I love Crab Rangoon. I do. I love it. But, in the past, whenever I’ve gotten a taste for it, I’ve had to go out to my favorite Chinese restaurant. I’ve tried to make it home, but that can be a bit tedious. Filling those wraps, folding them, and then deep frying them is a lot of work, not to mention messy, and we won’t even talk about the lingering aroma it leaves in the house. Ugh.

If you like Crab Rangoon as much as I do, then you are really going to appreciate this recipe. These are baked. In addition, there is no tedious folding of the wonton wrappers, you just shove them into muffin cups, bake them, fill them, bake them again, and you have the most delicious, creamy Crab Rangoon filling, inside a satisfyingly crunchy shell. The filling and wonton cups can be made the day ahead of serving. When guests arrive, simply fill and bake.

If you prefer not to bother with the wonton wrappers, the filling can also be spread on top of English muffin halves, broiled, and quartered, yielding wonderful creamy crab toasts. Want to go carb-less? Spoon the filling into mushrooms and broil. Delicious!
Crab Rangoon Wonton Cups

Melissa’s wonton wrappers
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 can lump crabmeat, drained
2 scallions, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Spray 12-well muffin pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Place one wonton wrapper into each well, and bake for 10 minutes until the edges begin to turn brown. Remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients, beating with a hand mixer until blended.

Divide filling among baked wonton shells; bake for an additional 8 to 12 minutes. Top with sliced scallions, if desired. Serve with sweet-and-sour sauce or hot mustard, optional.

Makes 12.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Chinese New Year Tablescape

You don’t need the excuse of Chinese New Year to set a festive and fun Chinese themed table. Whether you’re enjoying a meal of Chinese delivery, or have whipped together something on your own, this fun table will add much to your dining experience.
It’s really not difficult to do. I used fabric remnants for the table covering, made my own napkins to match, and grabbed white and red dishes to use to set the table.
A few Chinese props like these chopsticks and fans add to the fun, fortune cookies make dessert something to look forward to, as well as these fresh lychees
Dinner will be quite an experience with a table like this one.
The centerpiece need not be fussy, number two son, Andrew, loaned me his dragon teapot and teacup set to use at center, and a few Chinese carry out containers (that I always keep on hand to share leftovers with friends) add to the fun.
The glassware I made myself for an Asian theme anniversary party I had for my parents years ago. You can read about them here.
My mother is visiting at this table as well; the crystal knife rests are used here as rests for chopsticks. These are vintage, and add sparkle and fun to the table, not to mention a practical place to put chopsticks!
I hope I’ve given you some ideas with this table. It doesn’t have to be an occasion for you to do the same.
White chargers and red plates - Pier 1
Bamboo flatware - Crate and Barrel
White lotus bowls -
White soup spoons - Crate and Barrel
Chopsticks -
Folding Chinese fans -
Chinese Takeout Boxes -
Lychees -
Melissa’s Produce
  Vintage crystal knife/chopstick rests - my mom

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wonton Chicken Noodle Soup

If you’re not familiar with Marion Grasby, she is a Thai-Australian cook, television presenter, cookbook author, food writer, and the owner and creator of the Marion’s Kitchen Asian product line. She makes the preparation of Asian food look easy. Essentially, it is, but it’s also very time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing, and I didn’t. I watched Marion make a delicious looking wonton soup in a video that lasted about 15 minutes. This morning I made that soup; it took me three hours, and afterwards I had to have a nap. But the soup is delicious, and most importantly, authentic tasting, thanks to Marion’s Asian chicken stock that is a serious game changer. When I finally sat down to enjoy my soup this afternoon, I could not believe that I had made something that tasted of restaurant quality.

I got the idea to make wonton soup because Chinese New Year will be celebrated at week’s end, and I like to be authentic. Any celebration that involves Chinese food is right up my alley. This doesn’t need to take you as long as it took me, because you can make the components ahead of time, something I strongly recommend. I chose to do mine all at once, and I will not do that again.


Here is Marion’s recipe with a few of my adaptations. For one, I used Melissa’s Produce’s wonton wrappers, that may be a little smaller than the norm. I like the smaller ones, because it allows a better filling-to-wonton-wrap ratio, as well as allowing for adding more wontons per bowl of soup. I also changed her directions a little bit to reflect a more American understanding of things, and I cut back on the amount of chicken that she used because I wanted equal parts shrimp and chicken in my wontons.

Try this for yourself, but do yourself a favor and make your stock one day, your wontons another day (they can be frozen on a cookie sheet, then placed into a Ziploc bag so they’re
there anytime you need them), and then making a nice hot bowl of delicious wonton soup will be a breeze.

Wonton Chicken Noodle Soup

Slightly adapted from Marion Grasby

3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1-1/2” piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 bone-in chicken thighs
4 whole star anise
6 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
Blanched bok choy, to serve
Cooked noodles, to serve

4 oz. skinless, boneless chicken, partially frozen, minced in processor
¼ cup finely sliced scallions
1 tsp. sesame oil
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
4 oz. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, roughly chopped

Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, peppercorns, and ginger into a rough paste. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat and fry the paste for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning, until golden brown. Add the star anise, chicken stock, soy sauce, and salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken thighs from stock; allow to cool; slightly. Remove meat from bones, chop, and set aside to include in soup.

In the meantime, make the wonton filling. Place the ground chicken, scallions, sesame oil, salt, pepper, water, and cornstarch into a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined and sticky. Then stir in the shrimp.

To form the wontons, place a tablespoon of the mixture onto the center of a wonton wrapper. Moisten edges with water and fold in half diagonally, and then bring one corner of the wonton to the center to meet the other. Repeat with remaining filling mixture.
Divide bok choy, chicken meat, and noodles among serving bowls.
Cook wontons in boiling water for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and divide wontons among serving bowls. Strain the stock and ladle over the top.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Chocolate Fondue for Two

If you’re thinking about ending your Valentine meal with anything other than chocolate, think again. Chocolate is the quintessential Valentine’s Day dessert, and this easy and delicious Chocolate Fondue for Two is the answer. It stirs together in minutes, can be made ahead, served quite elegantly with a glass of champagne, and you can get as creative as you like with the dippers. Nothing says I love you like this sinfully delicious dessert.
Chocolate Fondue for Two

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 14-oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 tablespoons KahlĂșa
¼ teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt chocolate chips and butter with sweetened condensed milk; stir in espresso powder. Cook and stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and KahlĂșa.
Serve warm in your favorite fondue pot. Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator.
Suggested Dippers:
Pound cake cubes, Amaretto Cherries, orange sections, melons balls, pineapple chunks, strawberries, banana slices, apple wedges, Melissa’s Red Muscato or interestingly shaped Sweet Sapphire Grapes, pear slices, and Plush Puffs marshmallows.

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