Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2 Recipes: Muffins & Brownies

love my kitchen appliances and gadgets
I used my food processor for two great recipes recently. I got these from a cookbook my mom gave me a long time ago called: Food Processor Techniques by the Editors of Consumer Guide. ©1982

I think I might have already shared this recipe from our lunch here with Nana, Papa, & The Twins but I’m not sure. Papa and Summer could not get enough of these and we all loved them! The adults ate them along with steaming cups of coffee.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins

Makes 1 dozen
1 cup (250 mL) uncooked quick oats
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
½ cup (125 mL) packed light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons (7 mL) baking powder
½ teaspoon (2 mL) baking soda
½ teaspoon (2 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) butter or margarine, melted and cooled to room temperature, or vegetable oil
1 egg
1. Combine oats and buttermilk in large mixing bowl; let stand 30 minutes.
2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)
3. Insert steel blade. Measure flour, brown sugar, baking powder, soda and salt into work bowl; process, using on/off technique, until mixed.
4. Combine butter, egg, reserved oats and buttermilk; add to flour mixture in work bowl. Process, using on/off technique 5 or 6 times, just until flour is moistened; do not overprocess (batter should be lumpy).
5. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups (cups should have 1/3 cup or 80 mL capacity), filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake until golden and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Marbled Brownies

Makes 18 large brownies
1 package (8 ounces or 225g) cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces.
2 1/3 cups (580 mL) sugar
5 eggs
½ teaspoon (2 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature
1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups (375 mL) shelled walnuts (I used pecans)
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
2. Using steel blade, process cheese, 1/3 cup (80 mL) of the sugar, 1 of the eggs and the vanilla until smooth; remove from work bowl and reserve.
3. Using steel blade, process butter and remaining 2 cups (500 mL) sugar until light and fluffy. Add remaining 4 eggs to butter mixture; process until smooth. Add cocoa and nuts to butter mixture; process until nuts are coarsely chopped. Add flour to chocolate mixture ; process, using on/off technique, just until flour is moistened.
4. Spread half of the chocolate batter evenly in greased 13 X 9 X 2-inch (33 X 23 X 5 cm) baking pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture over chocolate layer; top with remaining chocolate batter. Swirl slightly with spoon or spatula. Bake until center is fork to the touch, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool brownies in pain on wire rack; cut into bars.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Humble & Southern Brunch

     Papa and Nana visited with our three year old nephew, Konnor yesterday and it was our oldest son’s birthday. He, his wife, Brandy and our three grandlittles were here and my husband was home along with the girls (15 year old daughter and niece) AND our college “kid”, Matthew (wink) was here. . . so a nice gathering. One son (Brandon) wasn’t here because he was on a 24 hour shift at the fire department and his wife was 45 minutes away and our youngest son was still in school. We gather when we can and with who we can around this little homestead.

     Onto the food:
     I have been eating grits from the time I first started eating, I guess. I just know that I don’t know a time when I didn’t and I grew up in the south (with the exception of six years in a northern state) and grits here are as common as bread anywhere else.
     I’ve made all kinds --- from instant, flavored packets to the kind you must slowly cook for 30-45 minutes. As is the case with most things, the longer it takes to cook the better it is. Still, I don’t easily find stone ground grits or those taking longer than five minutes other than traveling one to six hours away or ordering online at: http://www.noramill.com/store/index.php?cPath=48.

     Of course, when I order there, I end up wanting to add things like whole bags of poppy seeds since I go through the small containers in the store in no time. I could fill a whole shopping cart with the baking blends, varieties of grits, flax seeds, pioneer porridge (our favorite of all!) and on and on the list tarries.
     Meanwhile, I make do with Jim Dandy’s 5-Minute grits and have developed a small following of fans. Smile.

     My DIL, Laura, went on and on about the last grits we made and this time, everyone who ate them did the same! We cleared out all eight servings along with 1 ½ dozen eggs, two loaves of bread and two sticks of butter. We did have a total of 14 people so I am surprised it wasn’t more than that. We are used to big meals though. We serve anywhere from five to 25 at a time. Smiles.

     My husband says the grits I made yesterday were beautiful and delicious and I believe they are the best I’ve ever made. I started making grits when I was a teenager and always added butter and American or cheddar cheese. I quit eating American cheese along the way and would just stir in mounds of grated cheddar. Now, I make it however we are in the mood for per meal!
     The usual is grated, sliced or broken pieces (sounds strange but gives a delicious bite of cheese every so often and is well loved around here) of sharp cheddar cheese or aged, white cheddar.
     We add in whatever we want and the blog post I got the latest (and best) recipe from shares a whole list of delicious, add-in ideas.

     I’ll add my notes in asterisks. Brandy, Nana, and I served these grits with softly scrambled eggs, toast made in the toaster oven with real butter and topped with blackberry, seedless jam. There was also a mound of bacon for all our pork eaters to devour and I ended up eating a few bites myself. The adults had steaming hot coffee with this meal and it was comforting on a cold day.
     Lauren and Sierrah deserve a thanks for helping with the dishes and children!

The Perfect Grits
(shared as taken from blog and the ONLY things I share from here to the end will be put in asterisks. Everything else is the recipe sharer’s notes*
Yield: 4 servings *I made 8 servings*

Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
For your basic grits, you'll need only five ingredients: water, cream, butter, salt and the grits themselves.
Use good butter. This can't be stressed enough. Do not use margarine. Do not use "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." Do not use butter that's been sitting in the fridge uncovered for weeks, soaking up odors and flavors. Do not use unsalted butter. With only five ingredients, you will be able to taste the nasty, disgusting fake butter you inadvisedly used in the grits, and you will be sorry.

 Bring two cups of water and one cup of cream to a boil. I recommend heavy whipping cream, but if you're trying to be more health-conscious, you can use skim milk instead. Either way, don't use all water when trying to make grits -- you need a dairy component.
*I used skim milk mixed with half-n-half --- the closest thing I had to heavy cream!)*
 Gently add one cup of grits and one tablespoon of kosher salt to the boiling water. Don't reduce the heat immediately, but allow the grits to continue boiling while you stir constantly.

 After two minutes, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to stir. Just like risotto, the secret to great grits is plenty of stirring. Don't forget to scrape the bottom and sides.

 After five to seven minutes, your grits should reach a thick but still creamy consistency (dripping gently off the spoon but not too easily).
*At this point, I added a drizzle of melted bacon grease to the grits since this is the way many southern grandmothers did it!*

Remove from the heat, plate and serve immediately. Cold grits are horrid. Garnish with a single pat of butter and enjoy.
*I added butter taken from a fluffy nest by shaving the stick on a zester. Tip and trick from my mother (Nana) who did this for us.*

 If you're feeling more adventurous, I would suggest the following twists that will transform your simple bowl of grits into a stunning centerpiece. All of these ingredients should be cooked/prepared prior to making your grits and added near the very end of cooking.
•    Chopped bacon, green onions, shredded white cheddar and minced jalapenos
•    Crumbled sausage (I prefer spicy Jimmy Dean) and maple syrup
•    Raisins, dates, dried cranberries, walnuts, a few dashes of sugar and a splash of cream
•    Peeled shrimp, scallions and parmesan cheese
•    Shredded cheese of any variety, a dash of paprika and a few generous dashes of garlic powder
It's nearly impossible to go wrong with a base of perfectly-cooked grits. Go wild and let us know your favorite grits recipes in the comments section below.