Blackberry Farm Griddle Cakes with Cinnamon Peach Syrup

Pancakes

I have a slight obsession with Blackberry Farm.

And by slight I mean I own both of their cookbooks (at one point I had two copies of The Foothills Cuisine),  and daydream regularly about living there. Oh, and they also recently did a beautiful spread-and are selling their homemade goodies-with Williams Sonoma. Which makes my food wanderlust even worse.

Located in the gorgeously green foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Blackberry Farm is a foodie’s dream. Fueled by an on-location organic garden and supplied by their own sheep’s (as in, their own pasture full of) cheese, happy diners head back to their customized cabins at the end of a glorious day of eating to rest under the cool mountain stars, only to awake and do it all over again. Or at least, this is what I hear.**

**I did once drive to Blackberry Farms, illegally enter the gates, and scope out their dining room. I stayed under the radar until I attempted to drive my four-door sedan down a road clearly intended for a guests-only golf cart. I also may or may not have hit a large stump in my flustered attempt to back out of the tiny driveway.

I digress.

These Blackberry Farm recipe pancakes graced the cover of Bon Appetit, and I was immediately whisked away by an image of myself  in a rocking chair, overlooking the green scape of the farms, while a gentle gardener served me a plate of steaming pancakes that were gently  releasing their heavenly aroma into the air.

Reality returned, and I decided that the first step toward the dream would be actually cooking them. And in true LuvCooks style, when I made this recipe it was in the middle of a sweltering summer in the south and our syrup options did not include gracefully picking through the blackberries outside in the garden soil. Instead, I braved the 90+degree heat and nabbed some late-summer peaches from a local farmer’s market.

Below are the most delicious gluten-free pancakes you have ever tasted. And the most outstanding peach syrup I’ve ever had. Even if you aren’t eating them on top of a mountain, it will still feel peachy-keen.:)

Blackberry Farm Griddle Cakes (This recipe and its instructions are taken from bonappetit.com)

What You Will Need

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil (for skillet)

What You Will Do*

  • Whisk egg, buttermilk, and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk oat flour, cornmeal, rice flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients, then whisk in butter until no lumps remain.
  • Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat; lightly brush with oil. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bottoms are browned and bubbles form on top of griddle cakes, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until griddle cakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.

*My incredible, gluten-free chef friend Annie cooked these pancakes, and they turned out beautifully. This batter is a bit thinner than your usual pancake batter, so just make sure you watch them since they cook a bit more quickly than normal.

LuvCooks Cinnamon-Peach Syrup

What You Will Need

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 peaches, skinned and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

What You Will Do

1.  Bring water, honey, and sugar to a boil.

2. Add the peaches, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, and let the mixture return to a boil.

3. Turn the heat back down to low and simmer until the peaches are soft, or about 15 mintues.

4. Continue to let the mixture simmer at medium to medium-low until it gets about the consistency you want. I watched mine for about 45 more minutes and had to head out to feed some hungry pancake eaters, so mine was a bit thinner. It was delicious, but if you like a thicker syrup, try to avert the hunger pangs by letting it cook for a bit longer.

Jalapeño Sausage Wheels

Sausage with a kick. Go team!

Sausage with a kick. Go team!

In the South, it goes without saying that almost all of our traditions revolve around food. Having a baby? Let’s get together, open pink or blue gifts, and try Aunt Pat’s cream cheese ball. Getting married? Let’s have a glass of tea, peruse a spread of engagement presents, and eat pimento cheese (this is also known as a “Sip n’ See”). Your favorite football team having a ball game? Come on over, I’ll tell you about the time I spilled the contents of a salad bar into the cuff of our ’92 national championship coach’s pants leg. And, let’s eat!

As fall is upon us, football has once again become all-consuming. I was born and raised around a team of crimson and white jerseys that symbolized everything great about our state- hard work, commitment, heart, legacy. For me though- besides the game, the roar of the crowd and being in one of my favorite stadiums in the world- the best part of football season is the pre and post-game eating.

This recipe for sausage wheels has been passed down through my family; I remember waking up on Saturday mornings to the smell of them. But let’s be honest- there isn’t much you can to to sausage and pie crust to make it taste better. My version just gives it more of a spicy kick, and ends with a sweet, smoky flavor that is absolutely addictive. Plus, I’m hoping the aforementioned kick can somehow serve as good luck for our special teams this Saturday.

You can serve these hot out of the oven; be warned that the sausage fumes may make your mind cloudy and cause unexplained overconsumption of pastries. Or, let them cool to room temperature and take them to the game (or your sofa). They also make a delicious post-game-night breakfast.

I hope you enjoy a beautiful, winning weekend- and that this recipe is good luck for your own tailgating tradition.

Jalapeño Sausage Wheels

What You Will Need

1 package pre-made pie crust (containing 2 pie crusts)

1 pound ground sausage

2 jalapeños, deseeded and minced (Thanks for the peppers mom!)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Sweet Heat spice

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

What You Will Do

1. Let your pie crusts come to room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, combine the ground sausage, jalepenos, garlic, Sweet Heat, onion powder, and cumin.

3. Lightly flour your countertop or surface of choice (I love my Silpat for this) and gently roll out both pie crusts until they form about a 11 by 11 inch rectangle. No need to measure; I just make sure the dough looks like a large rectangle and is a bit thinner than when I first unrolled the crust.

4.  Divide the sausage mixture in half, and spread it evenly on each pie crust.

5. Here comes the fun part. Starting at the top of your rectangle (the side facing you) gently roll the dough away from you, creating a tight roll. Pull the dough tight as you roll, making sure your sausage mixture stays inside the dough roll. A loose roll will spill it’s contents onto your counter, and why let that tastiness go to waste?

6. Repeat the process for the second pie crust.

7. Once you have your two rolls ready, wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for 45 minutes to an hour to help them firm up.

8. Preheat oven to 450. Go ahead and find your broiler pan and spray it generously with cooking spray; you will need it at the ready.

9. Take your rolls out of the freezer, and slice them into thin wheels (about 1/4 an inch to 1/2 inch). Arrange the sausage pinwheels about a 1/2 inch away from each other on the pan.

10. Bake for 15 minutes, then take your pan out of the oven and flip the wheels over; bake for another 10 minutes. Go team!

Red, White and Bleu Coleslaw

A summer side MVP

A summer side MVP

It’s hard to get excited about coleslaw.

In the South, the shredded green lettuce routinely fades into the summer barbecue background, alongside baked beans and summer watermelon, once the true star of the show- salty smoked pork-arrives.

And don’t get me wrong- dry rubbed, tenderly glazed, and artfully pulled pork (substitute beef here if you are west of Mississippi)  deserves every bit of attention it gets. No barbecue would be the same without it. But this year I wanted to get in the coleslaw spirit; to create a recipe that actually stood next to a platter of beautiful chopped meat. A side that I would be motivated to go back for seconds on. Maybe even save extra stomach room for it instead of banana pudding. Maybe.

This recipe confidently held it’s own in more ways than one. As opposed to a mayonnaise-laced version, this is light and summery, with the rich smokiness of gorgonzola and tart sun-dried tomatoes to give it interest and pop. Plus, what’s more fun than an excuse to theme food around a holiday? I envision this coleslaw hitting a home run at all of your summer parties- Memorial Day (next year), Fourth of July, or any event themed around America, nautical elements, fireworks, or park weddings.

So stand up for coleslaw at your next meat-themed cookout. With this secret, sparkler weapon at your side, I promise you’ll be the hit of the backup sides.

Red, White and Bleu Coleslaw

What You Will Need

For the salad

8 cups coleslaw mix

4 cups shredded red cabbage

2/3 cup scallions

14 sundried tomatoes

5 ounces crumbled gorgonzola

For the vinaigrette

1/3 cup good olive oil

1/3 cup sun-dried tomato oil (strain your sun dried tomatoes from the jar and save the remaining oil)

4 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

What You Will Do

1. Whisk together olive and tomato oils, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl until combined. Set aside. (This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated if needed.)

2. Combine coleslaw mix, red cabbage, scallions, sun dried tomatoes, and gorgonzola.

3.  Gently fold the dressing mixture into the salad mix, taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. This can be made ahead of time and tastes better if it rests at room temperature for a few hours.

The International Biscuit Festival

A beautiful bonut

A beautiful bonut

If biscuit heaven was a place, I think I found it.

Knoxville, Tennesse- the home of neon orange football jerseys, Mabel, and this former food post– continues to impress me. Having spent the weekend consuming the most delicious olive and scallion hummus and tasting Vietnamese pho for the first time (which, in the words of a friend of mine, tastes like “angel tears”) I thought things couldn’t get better.

That was, until the International Biscuit Festival.

Turning the corner onto Biscuit Boulevard and finding a long stretch of red and white striped tents full of happy people blessing others with hot biscuits-knowing that I could try five of whatever biscuit I chose-was about like how a small child feels staring at a never ending stack of Lucky Charms, candy bars, and free iPads.

From the humming of a biscuit-themed songwriting competition to the smell of fresh dough sizzling in a deep fryer, it was a celebration of what makes Southern food so delicious- the buttery layers of comfort and warmth we lovingly call biscuits.

Since I was forced to choose-one of these biscuit masterminds below made a bonut people- below are my top five favorites. Hopefully these will inspire you to make your own biscuit combos- or visit Knoxville next year and experience it for yourself. I’ll be there-but next year I’ll probably buy two tickets  just so I can go through the line twice.

1. Green-Eyed Monster Pimento Cheese Buttermilk Biscuit, Tupelo Honey

A mind-blowing combination of spicy pimento cheese dough, buttered and sandwiched with fried jalepeno

A mind-blowing combination of spicy pimento cheese dough, buttered and sandwiched with fried jalepeno

2. Andouille Shrimp and Grits Biscuit, Applewood Farm House Restaurant

3. Candied Bacon, House-Cured Clabbered Cream, and Honey and Balsamic Reduction Buttermilk Biscuit, The Plaid Apron

Biscuits with balsamic glaze and clabbered cream

For those of you who have never tried it, clabbered cream is fantastic

4. Sweet Water Valley Smoked Cheddar and Onion Biscuit, The Tomato Head

5. Family Reserve Drop Biscuits (aka “bonuts”) with Sorghum Whipped Cream and Blueberries, Biscuit Love Truck

A lovely, sweet drop biscuit fried and filled with cream

A lovely, sweet drop biscuit fried and filled with cream

Bacon Sweet Rolls with Maple Glaze

Bacon sweet rolls

Most everything is better with bacon.

In the South, bacon might as well be one of the five food groups, alongside vegetables, biscuits and/or cornbread, cheese dip, and sweet tea. It’s the basis of any true Southern side item, tops most casseroles, and makes a great afternoon snack with the aforementioned tea.

While reflecting on what I could post that epitomized a truly Southern breakfast, this recipe for bacon sweet rolls caught my eye. Could there  be a way to take a cinnamon roll- perfect with it’s warm cinnamon smell wafting from the oven, soft in the center with ripples of vanilla icing- to another level? Is there a way to actually upgrade nature’s most perfect fried pork product? Can I personally contribute to a breakfast roll awakening in the kitchens of bacon-lovers everywhere?

I do not claim to know the answers to life’s most serious questions. This one, however- can bacon and sweet rolls coexist in perfect unity?- I can answer. With a resounding yes.

These rolls are why bacon makes most everything better. Filling, rich sweet dough swirled around salty, applewood smoked bacon that folds with brown sugar and butter into a wheel of national championship caliber (Did someone say 11:00 pre-game tailgate food? The other team’s fans will cheer for you). These are a first-meal treat in its highest form.

So don’t let all of that bacon go to waste on the side of your eggs. Wrap it in dough, throw it in the oven, and celebrate the South’s most perfect breakfast roll.

Also, a huge thank you to the incredibly talented Stephen DeVries for taking these beautiful photos. I don’t think breakfast has ever looked this good.

What a polite breakfast eater's plate would look like.

What a polite breakfast eater’s plate would look like.

Bacon Sweet Rolls with Maple Glaze (Recipe adapted from this great food blog)

What You Will Need

1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 TBSP brown sugar
Sweet Dough (recipe below)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, warm room temperature
1 pound bacon, cooked (I liked this brand, applewood-smoked), crispy and crumbled
Maple Glaze (recipe below)

Sweet Dough

1 cup warm whole milk
2 envelopes (4 ½ tsp.) active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Stir milk (I microwaved mine until it felt pretty warm to the touch; typically it should be about 110-120 degrees), yeast, and 1/4 tsp. sugar in a small bowl. Let it stand until the mixture bubbles, about 6 minutes (you will see tiny bubbles rising to the surface). Stir it again.

Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the flour and salt and mix on low speed just to combine.

Add yeast mixture to the flour and mix on medium-low speed until dry shaggy mass forms, scraping down the bowl occasionally, about 2 minutes.

Add egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed until well blended. Then add the sugar and beat until moist soft dough that resembles thick batter forms, about 3 minutes. (Keep on beating the batter here, even when it looks like it is already in dough form. It needs to become more like a silky batter than a thick dough.)

Add room temperature butter 1 tbsp at a time and beat on medium-low speed until almost incorporated before adding more, about 2 minutes (your dough will be sticky, not thick like a traditional bread dough). Beat dough on medium-high 2 minutes longer (make sure all of your butter is incorporated here).

Scrape dough out onto a work surface then gather together. Place it in a large bowl that is oiled or buttered. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise at room temperature until almost doubled, about 2 hours. Punch dough down; cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Peabody’s recipe was slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Maple Glaze

2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (the darker the better, go for the real Vermont thing if you can)
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, melt butter and syrup together over medium heat (watch the mixture because it comes together quickly).  Whisk powdered sugar into the hot mixture until smooth. Let cool slightly…if too thick add a little more maple syrup. Pour over rolls.

To Bring It All Together

Whisk both sugars together.

Turn cold Sweet Dough out onto floured surface; sprinkle with flour. The more flour the better here; when you roll it out it gets a bit sticky.

Divide the dough in half. Roll out the dough to two 15 by 12 inch rectangles. I can never seem to make actual rectangles with my dough, it’s always more of a large oval, so whatever works for you will still be delicious.

Using fingers, spread the butter evenly over each rectangle. Sprinkle ½ sugar mixture and half of the bacon over each. Starting at one long side of each dough rectangle, tightly roll up dough jelly-roll style, enclosing filling. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut each roll crosswise into fifteen or sixteen one inch-thick slices. Arrange your  dough slices on a cookie sheet, spacing evenly apart.

Cover with plastic wrap; let them rise in a warm, draft-free area until the buns are puffy and doubled, about 1 hour 45 minutes.

Bake buns at 375F until deep golden brown. The cooking time varies here. I used a dark metal pan, and it only took mine about 15 minutes to cook. If you use a light metal cookie sheet, it will probably be more like 25 minutes. Just watch your rolls-because of the sugar inside of them, it can become a syrupy pool around your dough and burn them the bottom. Let the buns stand 2 minutes. Then cover with glaze and say hello to the best bacon baked bun of your life!

White Christmas Snack Mix

IMG_1995

Snack food heaven

Happy New Year!

I am really looking forward to 2013. The idea of a brand new year is always exciting- but it’s also an excuse to be more creative with your life. To plan new things, set goals, make changes, drizzle dark chocolate like Jackson Pollock over a heap of white chocolate-covered marshmallows and cashews.

Yes, New Years is a fantastic time for the ultimate, chocolate-covered, dessert mix. It couldn’t be easier, or a better fit for New Years football games, parties, or just sitting at your kitchen table making grand plans for 2013. Whatever works.

This is dangerous to serve on large platters. It means more people can eat your leftovers.

Serving this on large platters means more people can eat your leftovers.

To be frank, whenever I see a recipe for dessert/snack mixes- really anything loosely tied together by a sugary substance with some Chex cereal thrown in- I am wary. I have too often been dissapointed by dessert mixes that look amazing (peanut butter, pretzels, and powdered sugar- sign me up!) but end with a cloyingly-sweet aftertaste.

This mix is different. The light white chocolate layer over salty cashews and pretzels is a nice balance- and I adore marshmallows, so any excuse to add those in anything is perfect. Also, this recipe requires white chocolate almond bark, which (don’t be decieved) is not a health-food product. It is the easiest way to melt white chocolate, and for this recipe, it’s what you need.

Here’s to the best year yet- and an excuse to fling dark chocolate in whatever way you please.

White Christmas Snack Mix

What You Will Need:

6 cups of Crispix cereal
2 cups of Honey Nut Cherrios cereal
Big can of cashews halves and pieces (or an 8 ounce bag)
1 large bag of peanut butter M&M’s
One bag of mini marshmallows
2 cups of knot pretzels
2 high quality dark chocolate bars  (don’t skimp on quality here; it really makes a difference in the contrasting tastes between the two types of chocolate)
Wax paper
What You Will Do:
1. In a very big bowl, mix the Crispix, Honey Nut cheerios, cashews, M&M’s, marshmallows, and pretzels.
2. In a separate bowl, melt one package of white almond bark in the microwave, or follow the directions on the package to melt it on the stove. Pour melted white almond bark onto the cereal mix and stir, making sure to coat each piece.
3. Spread the entire mixture out on wax paper.
4. While it is hardening, melt two dark chocolate bars in the microwave. My preferred method is to melt both bars on high in a microwave-safe bowl for one minute; then microwave the chocolate for 15 second intervals, stirring briskly after each heat blast, to melt the chocolate and create a smooth consistency. Try and microwave the chocolate as little as possible;  the more you microwave it, the more likely it is to burn.
5. After the dark chocolate is melted,  take a spoon and drizzle it over the cereal mixture like the artist that you are. Let it harden for about 15-20 minutes.
6. Once hardened, break the pieces apart and share them with your loved ones. Or not. 🙂

Red Velvet Brownies

Red velvet- lightly-sweet, moist, and full of semi-sweet chocolate

Oh, red velvet. Of all the flavors of dessert, I feel you are the most misunderstood. And for that, I would like to formally apologize on behalf of those who do not know what they do and/or taste.

Last night I had the distinct privilege of watching Steel Magnolias (as you can see on the Info page of this blog- this movie is near and dear to my heart) with some of my best girl friends. And in honor of the armadillo cake in the movie -“Who knows what even goes into makin’ gray icin?!'” (as quoted by M’Lynn)- and the fact that my favorite football team, whose colors are also red and gray, play this evening, red velvet brownies were in order.

Red Velvet Brownies (from Southern Living)

What You Need:

  • 1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (1-oz.) bottle red liquid food coloring (All I could find was icing coloring gel, and it worked fine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

What You Will Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil. (Confession: I can never seem to figure this method out so I just sprayed a 9X13 pan with cooking spray).
  2. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk in sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. (Ok, at this point, my arms were burning and I thought my wrists were going to give out. I suggest abandoning the whisk at this point. I think people who write baking recipes either have biceps of steel or no feeling in their appendages.) Gently stir in flour and next 4 ingredients.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 350° for 44 to 48 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs (I only baked mine for 3o minutes, and they were perfect). Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours).
  4. Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles; gently remove foil.

I iced my brownies with sparkle white icing. This also made excellent “A’s” on the bite-size mini’s for the aforementioned football team.

Chicken Tetrazzini

My new go-to dish.

I am a chicken tetrazinni convert.

Since childhood, I remember avoiding it.  In cafeteria lines, it was passed over every time in favor of it’s neighbor, baked spaghetti or chicken poppy seed casserole; I would have rather eaten another helping of canned green beans than touch the rubbery, tasteless blob of chicken goo. Or, in other circles, the chicken tetrazzini I came across was brought by well-meaning friends as a gift of family dinner. This version had the dreaded crunchy noodle syndrome: a lukewarm, almost cool bottom with a piping hot, tough, burnt-noodle crust.

But, as a good Southern child, I swallowed every bite, made a “happy plate” (which in my household meant not a speck of food was left), and vowed never to eat chicken tetrazzini again, as far as it depended on me.

When my friend Emme surprised me a few nights ago with a hand-delivered batch of her version, I admit my knee jerk reaction- Run. Far, far away, to pass along to a hungry neighbor I could feel less guilty about giving it to.

But, I should have known this experience would be unlike any I had before. Monique is an incredible cook. Her “Nana’s gravy” has changed my take on marinara sauce (they key is in marinating the meatballs/pork in the sauce all day long, people!) and so I decided to trust her and give it a try.

This chicken noodle dish was refreshingly different. It was creamy, and the noodles were al dente, and the chicken was seasoned and salty. There were even bright specs of red pepper and hearty mushrooms. Gone was the crunchy noddle crust- this was topped with a delicate layer of parmesan cheese.

It tastes even better in a large bowl. Because then you can eat more.

The moral of this story is that tetrazzini can be delicious. And this chicken tetrazzini is my new go-to recipe for sick relatives, new moms, and anyone else who needs a meal delivered. Because for all of the bad chicken tetrazzini memories I suffered, I feel it deserves to have a redemption in someone else’s mind. And for the next child who eats it, bon appetit. May your odds of your chicken tetrazzini being Emme’s recipe be ever in your favor.

Emme’s Chicken Tetrazzini

You will need:

1 16 oz bag of fine egg noodles

8 oz fresh slice mushrooms (white button)

1 Tablespoon Butter

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 ounce can)

1 can cream of celery soup (10 3/4 ounce can)

22 ounces of chicken stock (fill your empty soup cans to measure)

5 ounces of Half and Half

4 cups of chopped rotisserie chicken

¼ C Chopped Pimentos or roasted red peppers (chopped)

½ to 1 C of freshly grated parmesan cheese

You will do:

In a medium sauce pan, heat butter and olive oil, add mushrooms and sauté until golden.  Add soups, stock, and half and half, and mix with a whisk to incorporate.  Heat on medium until the noodles are cooked (see below).

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to directions—until al dente.  Drain noodles; add drained noodles back to noodle pot and add the following: soup/mushroom mixture, chicken, and pimentos.  Stir well.  Once incorporated add ½ cup to 1 cup (depends on how cheesy you like it) of fresh parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour mixture into lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with any additional parmesan cheese.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes until bubbly.

*If bringing to a sick friend or new mom, or freezing, Emme recommends not baking it ahead of time. Also, this makes a good amount, and it freezes well!

Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits

Image

Sweet potatoes meet your match.

It was the biscuit disaster of 2012.

Image

The failed result of a biscuit crisis.

A sticky, lumpy orange mass had attached itself to my cutting board. Flour was smeared on my fingertips and was causing everything I touched to stick to them, including the bag of flour I was desperately trying to pour more of onto my board. The scene from Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold fought with tree sap and lost flashed in my mind, and I began to feel the panic rise in my chest.

“Please Lord,” I prayed. “Please salvage these biscuits.”

Truthfully, the reason why these biscuits meant so much to me was because I was born, raised, and still live in the South. Around here there in an expectation- no, unwritten rule- that if you are Southern, then you can make biscuits. They are on the same table as staples like black-eyed peas and fried okra. They are what you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had them with the ham station at my wedding reception. And I felt like NOT being able to make them somehow disqualified me from my heritage, and how I was raised.

Real heavy, real fast. Hope returns!

Anyway, and while we are being brutally honest, this recipe I attempted was not for drop biscuits. It was for fluffy sweet potato biscuits. What resulted was what happens when you can’t make fluffy biscuits. (Side note: I added too much liquid to the dough. My brilliant sister helped me solve this one. If you choose to make regular biscuits instead of drop biscuits, just make sure you are light-handed with the milk. You should have  a sturdy, sugar cookie-like dough, not a wet one.) But for me, this is what the dough became. And you know what? They were delicious.

What I uncovered with this recipe is that actually, I don’t think it mattered that I made a mess. They were light, rich, and slightly sweet with a buttery crumb. And with a bit of powdered sugar on top, I would be proud to serve them at any Southern luncheon-or table.

So join me in what might be the first recipe I have posted that you really can’t mess up. If you are like me, then you might make lots of mistakes in your kitchen. But sometimes mistakes can be our greatest cooking triumphs. That is the beauty of cooking- it turns lemons into lemonade, plain milk and eggs into ice cream, and biscuit dough into, well, drop biscuits.

C

Image

Success with powdered sugar on top.

Whole wheat black bean tortilla pie

Image

This is what black beans do on their vacations: make layers and bake.

I am all for easy. I am all for Mexican food. And I looooooove black beans.

Did I say I love black beans? I. Love. Black. Beans.

Yes, there is something to be said for taking an entire afternoon to make your own homemade version (just ask Heidi Swanson). I am sure it is worth it. And before you ask- no, it was not attempted on this recipe. Though maybe one day I will get over ambitious, watch too much Cooking Channel, and decide to make a day of it.

The recipe below was not only easy, it hit the niche of what I was craving: something spicy, cheesy (this seems to be a running theme on this blog; note to self: do not post something cheesy for the next entry-hah!), and full of black beans. It also reminds me a bit of those layered Mexican dips you see at parties, only way bigger and better.

So if you have an extra thirty minutes to spare, are aching to use those jarred cans of black beauties, and love a layered Mexican dish like I do, strap on your onion goggles and get choppin’.

For my favorite brand of canned black beans, go here.

For my favorite restaurant’s black beans, go here.

This recipe came from marthastewart.com, but I modified it a bit.

Ingredients

  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas  (I used “medium” size and the whole wheat version instead)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, minced (one can remove ribs and seeds if one desires; one may also leave them in if one loves jalepenos like I do)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I also added a bit more cumin because this spice loves Mexican food)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed (you know what brand to use)
  • 12 ounces beer, or 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (2 1/2 cups)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan. Use the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside. (I did not trim my tortillas because they were smaller than 10 inches and it worked great.)
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add beans and beer, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in corn and scallions, and remove from heat. Taste and adjust for seasoning. (I needed more salt here.)
  4. Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of springform pan; layer with 1/4 of the beans and 1/2 cup of cheese. Be careful here to keep the bean layers even. In my overexcitement, and what some may call “eagerness” to eat and therefore put this bean bliss in the oven, I sort of haphazardly piled the beans on the middle of the tortilla and by the end of the recipe it resemebled more of a bean tower than a neatly layered dish. Well, we can’t all be Martha Stewart.
  5.  Repeat three times, using 1 cup cheese on top layer. Bake until cheese melts, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove side of pan; sprinkle pie with scallions. To serve, slice into wedges.
This makes a normal six servings, or, for my husband and I, two meals’ worth.
Image