Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mom’s homemade biscuits

Homemade biscuits are a Saturday morning tradition at our house.  Actually, they used to be a Sunday morning tradition, until I had to start being at 8 a.m. rehearsals at church.  Now they’re for Saturday mornings.  This recipe relies on a process (i.e. a sequence of steps) as much as the ingredients.  The ingredients are actually really basic:

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Two cups of flour (plus 1/2 c. for cutting out biscuits), 1 Tbsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/3 c. shortening, and 1 c. milk.
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Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the shortening is about the size of peas.  Make a well in center of flour mixture, and pour in the milk.
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Stir in the milk just until moistened.  Dough will be sticky and all the milk may not be absorbed right away.  That’s okay, just let it sit while you prepare the baking pan.
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Now, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  For the best biscuits, use a 10-inch black iron skillet.  (My husband taught me this shortly after we were married.)  Cut 2 tablespoons of butter until small cubes, and scatter them over the bottom of the pan.  (This is important for a nice crusty bottom.)
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Put the pan in the oven, to heat the pan and melt the butter.  Check occasionally to make sure the butter doesn’t burn.  Meanwhile, put the 1/2 c. additional flour on a pastry cloth or cutting board, and spread it out a little to make a spot for cutting out the biscuits.
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Turn out the biscuit dough onto the flour.  Flour your hands well and knead the dough a little, turning it only 5 or 6 times.  The secret to light, fluffy biscuits is handling the dough as little as possible.
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Pat the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness, and cut out biscuits with a round cutter.  Biscuits rise better with a quickly-cut edge.
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My biscuit cutter is about three inches in diameter, and I make about eight biscuits.  Then gather up the scraps, and very carefully knead and shape them into one large round biscuit, and cut it in half cross-wise.  (This just how they I think they fit best in the pan, but there’s really no right or wrong way.)
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If you haven’t already taken the skillet out of the oven, do so now.  Carefully place the smaller round biscuits around the edge of the pan, and the two halves of the larger biscuit in the center.  It will look like a biscuit-dough daisy.
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Now let the biscuits sit in the hot pan for about 5 minutes.  This will start the rising process, and make them really light and fluffy.  (I discovered this quite by accident when I waited a while to put the biscuits in the oven.)  Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned.
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Now, serve hot, with plenty of butter and hopefully, homemade jam of some kind.  I have fig jam and satsuma marmalade here.  Hope you enjoy them!
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King Cake Knots

Besides being close (in proximity) to my family, the thing I miss the most about living in Louisiana is the food. (Really, does this surprise anyone about me?) This being Mardi Gras season, I especially miss King Cake.

These yummy little King Cake Knots are the perfect solution! All the cinnamon-y goodness of King Cake without the tiresome work of making the King Cake (they’re not so easy…if you want to do it right). This recipe from Plain Chicken uses prepared french bread dough (find it with the refrigerated crescent roll, biscuit and cinnamon roll dough in the tubes). So simple!

You will need:
1 loaf refrigerated french bread dough
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons milk
yellow, green and purple sanding sugar or sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a baking sheet with butter-flavored cooking spray. Find the seam in the french bread dough and unroll it into a rectangle. Shape until it is about 16 by 12 inches. Brush the dough with softened butter.

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and spinkle liberally over butter.

Cut the dough in half lengthwise.

Then cut crosswise into 8 strips (I was bringing these to a party, so I made 12 but they were smaller than I liked. 8 is enough. Hehe)

Stack two strips together, cinnamon sides facing each other. Twist the strips together.

Tie them loosely in a knot, stretching gently if necessary. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake 25 to 28 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix together powdered sugar and milk. Dip the top of each knot in the icing.

Sprinkle each with yellow, green and purple sanding sugar or sprinkles.

King Cake Knots

1 loaf refrigerated french bread dough
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons milk
yellow, green and purple sanding sugar or sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a baking sheet with butter-flavored cooking spray.

Find the seam in the french bread dough and unroll into a rectangle. Shape until it is about 16 by 12 inches. Brush the dough with softened butter. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle liberally over butter.

Cut the dough in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 8 strips. Stack two strips together, cinnamon sides facing each other. Twist the strips together. Tie them loosely in a knot, stretching gently if necessary. Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 25-28 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix together powdered sugar and milk. Dip the top of each knot in the icing, then sprinkle each with yellow, green and purple sanding sugar or sprinkles.

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Plain Chicken

Cookie Dough Dip

When I saw this recipe over at Sing for Your Supper, I knew immediately I had to make it. And it is some kinda good! I brought it to our Super Bowl Party and it was gone before I knew it.

Here’s how to make it:

You’ll need:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.

Whisk in the brown sugar until it dissolves completely and the mixture just begins to bubble. Stir in the vanilla extract and let cool. (The cooling really is important. The first time we made it wasn't stellar because the mixture was still hot and it melted our chocolate chips.)

Put the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in a separate bowl.

Cream them together until well combined.

Turn mixer to low and add in brown sugar/butter mixturre and salt. Blend until well combined.

Mix in 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Reserve the rest to sprinkle on top of the dip.

Yummy! Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.

Serve with Nilla Wafers, graham crackers, or your cookie of choice.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar until it dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble. Stir in vanilla and set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar together. With the mixer on low speed, add in brown sugar and butter mixture, then the salt. Mix until well combined. Stir in 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Serve with Nilla Wafers, graham crackers, or the cookie of your choice.

Recipe source: barely adapted from Sing for Your Supper

T-shirt yarn!

I recently came across a tutorial on Pinterest for making yarn out of old t-shirts. My mind immediately jumped to the three boxes of cut apart t-shirts in my attic- the beginnings of a t-shirt quilt I started back in high school.  In fact, I had already resolved to finish said quilt this year before I get married- but what to do with all the left over fabric?  So when I found the t-shirt yarn tutorial, I was pumped!  I got the boxes out immediately and made a few balls.Image

And then I made a few more…

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And then I made a few more, and when I had made about 15 balls, I realized that I had no idea what I was going to do with all this yarn.  I tried crocheting with it, but it’s pretty thick and was a little tough to work with, so I started looking online at t-shirt yarn projects and found a plethora of ideas, including t-shirt yarn rugs, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, all of which look really cool, but aren’t really of any use to me right now.  So my first idea really came out of necessity: t-shirt yarn headbands!  I have to have my hair out of my face for my clinical nursing courses and I’m not a huge fan of bobby pinning it back, and all my plastic headbands give me a headache after a few hours, so I decided to use my new extensive collection of t-shirt yarn to make some.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Image– 3 20 inch strips of t-shirt yarn

– 1 10×1.5 inch strip of t-shirt fabric (I used some left over from the sleeve of the t-shirt)

– 1 4 inch piece of elastic (I used 1/2 inch width, but smaller would work too)

– Coordinating thread

– Needle and/or sewing machine

– Safety pin

– Scissors

My sewing machine has decided to rebel against jersey knit (which I learned the hard way when I made my first headband) so I hand stitched most of this one.  Luckily there’s not much sewing involved.

Step 1: Stitch the 3 strips of yarn together about 1/4 inch from the top.

Step 2: Safety pin the ends to something immobile (I used a pillow) and braid the strips together.  Once the whole thing is braided, stitch the bottom ends together.

Step 3: Stitch one end of the elastic to one end of the braided strip.

Step 4: Take the 10×1.5 inch strip and fold in half lengthways.  Stitch a 1/4 inch seam along the long edge.

Step 5: Using a safety pin, turn the strip inside out to form a tube (you can trim the seam allowance down to 1/8 inch to make turning easier.)

Step 6: Attach the safety pin to the end of the elastic (the part not attached to the braided strip.)  Work the 10 inch tube around the elastic until it covers the end that’s attached to the strip.  Stitch in place.  When I did this, the raw ends of the tube pretty much rolled themselves under so they weren’t exposed when I stitched it down.  You can stitch the ends under before you make the tube if you want, though.

Step 6: Remove the safety pin from the elastic and stitch the elastic to the remaining end of the braided strip.  Then work the other end of the tube over the elastic and stitch in place.

And voila!  You have a headband!

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