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Archive for May, 2010

Buttermilk pancakes

After two years of arguing, I finally convinced my mom to buy REAL maple syrup. So, to celebrate, I made pancakes! I used a really popular recipe, which made some tasty pancakes. The batter had lots of lumps, but the pancakes turned out fine. I really liked the flavor and they were better than any other pancakes I’ve made. I was hoping they would have been a little bit fluffier, but I still enjoyed them. There is an article on All Recipes about beating the egg whites and lots of tips in the reviews, so maybe I’ll try some of them next time.

I halved the recipe and added a little vanilla. I used 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Our Best Bites uses the same recipe, but they beat the egg whites. I would try Kittencal’s recipe next. She uses sour cream instead of milk, more sugar and butter, and more baking powder than baking soda. Some people wrote about a slow cook technique to get the best rise.

Buttermilk Pancakes II (All Recipes)


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted


1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together buttermilk, milk, eggs and melted butter. Keep the two mixtures separate until you are ready to cook.

2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. You can flick water across the surface and if it beads up and sizzles, it’s ready!

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, using a wooden spoon or fork to blend. Stir until it’s just blended together. Do not over stir! Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/2 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.


M&M Cookies, tips and research

I’ve seen two versions of M&M cookies, some made with shortening and some made with butter. So which one do I pick? Neither! I did 1/2 butter crisco and 1/2 butter. The shortening made the cookie the characteristic smooth texture and the butter made it spread and taste good. I mixed M&Ms in the dough and pushed 3-5 M&Ms on top. I baked on ungreased cookie sheets, and they took anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes. I made half of the cookies, and they were big, smooth, and flat. Not bad, old baking soda flat! That was how they were supposed to be, based on my memory of M&M cookies and pictures from recipes. The edges were lightly brown but they weren’t crispy.

I also refrigerated the other half of the dough and mixed in a little more flour. It didn’t really make a difference though, but I only added a spoonful of flour and I didn’t refrigerate that long. For some reason, making these cookies made me want to look up a lot about cookies and what the ingredients do. Here are some of the interesting things I found and things I decided.

I would like to make some M&M cookies that are thicker and chewier, and maybe throw in some chocolate chips. Butter makes cookies spread, but I don’t think I want a cookie that has all shortening. Maybe I’ll try it one day though.

Other suggestions to stop cookies from spreading – chill dough, no grease on pans, cool sheets

I also read that melting butter makes cookies chewier, as well as using more brown sugar than white. Also, cool the cookies completely on the pan.

I don’t know why I didn’t look at Cookie Madness’ blog before baking, but she also baked a lot of M&M cookies at one point. I want to try her Best Yet M&M cookies, because we seem to have similar opinions on the matter. This recipe uses cool butter and shortening, 1 egg vs. 2 in most recipes, and more white sugar than brown. She also chills the dough and adds chocolate chips. If I made more M&M cookies one day, I would also try a chocolate version.

Robbi’s M&M cookies (AR)


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup shortening (half butter, half shortening)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I tend to have a light hand with the flour, maybe that’s why my cookies sometimes end up flat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups candy-coated milk chocolate pieces


  1. In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, shortening, and vanilla thoroughly. Add flour, salt, and baking soda to creamed mixture. Blend well. Add 3/4 cup of M&M candies.
  2. Drop dough by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet. Slightly push a few candies on top of each dough ball with remaining candies.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 9 to 11 minutes, to your liking.

Caesar dressing (with oil, not mayo)

I love my go-to caesar dressing with a mayo base, but this oil version was freaking delicious. I combined two recipes to make one super recipe, and tossed it with romaine and parmesan cheese. Croutons would have been nice but I didn’t have time.

I used the food processor to mix everything, starting with an anchovy filet and a BIG clove of garlic.

Combo of Outrageous Caesar Salad and Caesar Salad I (AR)


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 anchovy filet
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I added a little more oil and vinegar to make more dressing)
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tbsp ground mustard
  • Sprinkle of cayenne
  • 1 lemon, juiced (I didn’t use a whole lemon because it was extra juicy)

Arrabbiata sauce

This was good, but not great to me. I had to add an extra 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes to cut the spiciness (and I just used a heaping 1/2 tsp!). So maybe that’s why I didn’t think it was as good as I was expecting it to be, because it was too diluted from the extra tomatoes. I didn’t have time to add extra of all of the other ingredients, but I did add more seasoning. I cooked some seasoned (garlic powder, S&P) shrimp in the sauce and tossed everything with penne. I topped it off with some feta cheese. Shrimp+tomato sauce+feta=yum.  Maybe I would have liked the sauce better if I had pureed it? Or made it a day ahead. I did like it, I just wasn’t that impressed. Everyone else was happy with it, which is good because I saved half of it for another meal for them once I leave.

Arrabbiata Sauce (AR)


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/8 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (I used dried. Maybe fresh would have helped?)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in wine, sugar, basil, red pepper, tomato paste, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, black pepper and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered about 15 minutes.

3. Stir in parsley. Ladle over the hot cooked pasta of your choice.

Cucumber salad

Very refreshing and a nice updated version of the classic cucumber/onion/vinegar/water side dish. It was ok, but not great. It wasn’t as tangy as I was expecting, so I’d probably try something a little different next time. I think Paula Deen has a version. This one was too watery, maybe because I made it in the morning. And I prefer bigger chunks versus thin slices I think.

Cucumber salad (RZ)


  • 2 cucumbers, very thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (low fat)
  • salt and pepper, to taste (I like a lot of pepper)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill


  1. Mix cucumbers and onions together.
  2. Mix rest of ingredients together in a closed bowl and give a shake.
  3. Add to cucumbers, chill till very cold & serve.

Microwave corn in butter sauce

This was a great way to spice up frozen corn. I only used 2 tbsp butter. It had good flavor, and didn’t need any ingredients I didn’t already have. It would be nice to adapt this to fresh corn, and make a flavored butter using the ingredients.


  • 1 small green onion (about 1/4-1/3 cup)
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup butter (no subs!)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or more to suit taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (or use 1/2 teaspoon white salt, or to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper (to taste)


  1. In a 1-1/2-quart microwave-safe casserole dish, combine all ingredients; cover with a lid.
  2. Microwave on high for 6-7 minutes or until corn is tender and sauce is bubbling, stirring 2 or 3 times.

Burger night!

I started the morning by making Kittencal’s burger buns. The buns were easy to make, it just took a little more flour than the recipe stated. I probably ended up using more than four cups. When adding the flour, I only did a tiny bit at a time because I wanted to keep the dough really soft and somewhat sticky. I commented while shaping that the bun dough remained so so soft, which resulted in a great end product. They were really good toasted and worked well with the burger I made. My one mistake was that after the first rise, I didn’t punch out all of the bubbles. I could tell because a few of my baked buns had big pimples. I got 12 from the recipe, and they were a good size. Some were a little bigger than others, but that’s what I meant to do. I would definitely eat these again, which is good because there are 9 more in the freezer!

Then, to go with the buns, I made Kittencal’s juicy hamburgers. I missed the step about forming them ahead of time and refridgerating them, but oh well. I made sure to handle them as little as possible, which was scary because I was sure they would fall apart. Thankfully, they stayed together while cooking on the skillet. I think fridgerating them or adding a little more bread crumbs would have helped. These burgers were so good and really juicy and delicious. The buns soaked up all of the juice but were strong enough to stand up to it. I cooked them maybe 7 or 8 minutes, and a lovely crust developed because of the skillet.

I also made a burger sauce, just because I can! It was a tiny bit sweet, but it complemented the burgers.

Kittencal’s Hamburger Buns


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (for a less sweeter bun reduce to 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup melted Crisco shortening (I use butter flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (U.S. residents use bread flour, you may need more four start with 3-1/2 cups and add in more while m)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed


  1. Proof the yeast in 1 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar; let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. (I did this in a bowl so I could put the rest of the ingredients in the mixer while the yeast was sitting.)
  2. In a heavy duty stand mixer, fitted with a kneader hook, add in the 3-1/2 cups flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, melted Crisco, warm milk and salt (and the malt powder if using).
  3. Add in the proofed yeast; mix to create a soft semi-sticky dough that holds around the blade, adding in more flour as needed (do not add in too much as it will create a heavy bun, dough should be semi-sticky.
  4. Knead dough for 7-8 minutes.
  5. Remove dough, and let rest on the counter, covered with a clean dish towel for 10 minutes (this is an important step!). (I made sure to do this!)
  6. Knead the dough gently for 30 seconds with hands.
  7. Place dough in a large well-greased/oiled bowl.
  8. Cover, and let rise in a warm spot for 60-90 minutes, or until double in size (I like to rise my dough in the oven, just set oven to 200 degrees and warm for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat while you are making the dough, this will create a perfect temperature to raise dough in, and usually takes only 1 hour to rise with oven method).
  9. Punch down dough.
  10. Shape into large balls, and place on a large greased cookie sheet (you should get 12 balls on the sheet).
  11. Cover with a light clean tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes, or until almost doubled (warm oven rise should take 30 minutes.
  12. Set oven to 375 degrees.
  13. In a small bowl, mix together 1 egg white with 1 tsp water; whisk/mix well.
  14. Carefully brush the tops and sides of the buns with the egg/water mixture.
  15. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. (I didn’t have any)
  16. Bake for approx.22 minutes, or until golden brown.

Kittencal’s Juicy Hamburgers/Burgers


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic (or use 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs (or crushed soda cracker crumbs, more if needed) (optional) – I used ritz crackers
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional, or use Tabasco sauce add in for some heat I most always do!)


  1. In a bowl crumble the ground beef with clean hands.
  2. Add in the dry soup mix, egg, garlic, breadcrumbs or crushed soda cracker crumbs, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper.
  3. Using clean hands mix until combined, add in more breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs if needed to just hold the mixture together (do not overwork the meat or it will be tough).
  4. Divide the ground beef into 6 equal patties (or make 8 small patties).
  5. Using your large finger or the back of a small spoon make a shallow dent into the center of each patty (about 1-inch wide).
  6. Place the patties onto a large plate or a small cookie sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours or up to 24 hours to blend flavors.
  7. Grill or pan fry the burgers as desired until cooked through (if desired sprinkle a small amount of seasoned salt on top while cooking the patties).
  8. Serve burgers in toasted buns with choice of condiments.
  9. TIPS FOR EXTRA JUICINESS; shape the hamburger into a ball, press 1 tablespoon cold butter into the middle then seal the meat around the ball then flatten into burger shapes —-or add in 2-4 tablespoons raw finely grated potato into the hamburger mixture then shape into patties, use no more than 4 tablespoons for 2 pounds of ground beef or the burgers will take on a meatloaf texture.

Best Burger Sauce (AR)


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon white vinegar
  • hot sauce to taste
  • seasoned pepper to taste


  1. Whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, onion, garlic, and vinegar in a bowl. Season with hot sauce and seasoned pepper to taste. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.