Sunday, June 27, 2010

French Breakfast Muffins

If you grew up liking cinnamon and sugar generously sprinkled on your buttered toast, I can almost guarantee that you'll love these French breakfast muffins.

These muffin gems are dipped into melted butter and then twirled in a cinnamon sugar mix to thoroughly coat the top in a childhood favorite.

No fancy ingredients or fancy equipment needed, no special skills. The batter is heavy, almost like a play-doh consistency, and the baked muffin is on the heavy side; one would definitely not call this light and fluffy. Even though there's quite a bit of butter in the recipe, I still added a little pat to the split muffin.  Ole Sweetie-Pi, after eating the first one, said "I'm going to have another.  These are good!" 

French Breakfast Muffins
(Better Homes & Gardens)

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup butter melted

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a mixing bowl combine flour, the 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
In another bowl beat egg slightly; stir in milk and 1/3 cup melted butter. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (the batter may be lumpy). Lightly grease muffin cups. Fill cups about two-thirds full with batter. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are golden.

Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl combine the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Immediately dip tops of hot muffins into the 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine, then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture until coated. Serve warm.

Makes 12 smaller-sized muffins.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1929 Double Boiler Orange Frosting

Never mind that this cupcake has a hump in the middle of it. Just squint your eyes and pretend it's not there. This post is all about the best orange frosting/glaze I ever put in my mouth. 

My brother Grant has a lady friend named Dakota, a true southern belle. I've never met Dakota as they have a long distance relationship, but I have seen him with her when they're on the phone together. His countenance immediately softens and and his eyes and smile brighten;  any hard edges of the day are immediately blunted the moment he hears her voice. I have female friends who make eyes at Grant and  they describe him as a manly man, a man's kind of man, (Really?  This is my brother they're talking about! To me, we are forever 5 and 10, and he will always be my baby brother.  When did he ever get to be a manly man?  Are we even talking about the same person.  I wonder.)  so when I see what sweetening effect that Dakota has on him, I am delighted.

Dakota, knowing that I absolutely love old fashioned cookbooks, surprised me with a gift.  She found a 1929 Lorain Cooking cookbook, published by the American Stove Company, St. Louis, Missouri.

As I thumbed through it, enjoying every recipe, even if only for its historical value (as I  hope we won't  be eating organ meats any time soon) this little recipe caught my eye because it's made with orange (one of my favorite flavors),  egg yolk, and is made in a double boiler. The ingredients are so simple, but the flavor is so good!

Even though the recipe is labeled a frosting,  to me, it's more of a gorgeous glaze or ganache because of the consistency and small amount if makes.  (I did not have enough to cover the dozen cupcakes I made.)  This would be perfect to glaze a bundt cake or a loaf cake or tea bread and this is certainly a recipe I will turn to again.  

Thank you, Dakota, this is a keeper!

Orange Frosting
 (Lorain Cooking cookbook, America Stove Company, St. Louis, MO, 1929)

1 tablespoon butter
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon orange juice**
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup confectioners' sugar

In the top of a double boiler,  put the butter.  Heat it over hot water until butter melts.  In a separate, small bowl, beat the egg yolk, add the salt, and fruit juices.  Stir into the melted butter. Continue to stir and cook until the mixture thickens. 

Remove from the flame and remove the top part of the double boiler from the lower part.  Add the sugar and mix it with the other ingredients.  Set aside until cool.**

**My thoughts on this...
I didn't have orange juice, but I did have a small amount of leftover orange juice concentrate in the freezer, which I used.  This made the  flavor was very orange-y, but I liked it.
**I don't have a double boiler and have no intention of purchasing one.  I use a heat-proof  Pyrex bowl and set it inside a sauce pan, the rim of the Pyrex bowl fitting over the rim of sauce pan.I make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl, heating the water to just simmering. Wear some potholders and exercise some care when removing the Pyrex bowl.
**When this is first cooked, it is quite runny, like a glaze, but it will harden and thicken somewhat as it cools. Because I would want this to be still somewhat pourable, I would use it while it was barely warm, giving it a good stir before pouring it my cake. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

Sloppy Joes were a school cafeteria favorite but were not something that I particularly thought to  prepare at home in my adult years.  However, it happened that I had a couple of  leftover hamburger rolls, hamburg, and half a red and a green pepper.  I wanted something "different" but delicious and easy.

Sloppy Joes to the rescue!  I found this delicious recipe on Allrecipes and we were very pleased with it.  Ole Sweetie-Pi wishes it were saucier, and he may be right, but to me, any saucier, and you'll have a spaghetti  meat sauce. 

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
(slightly adapted from this recipe at

1/2 pound ground beef
1./2 cup diced peppers
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard **
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 hamburger buns, split
In a saucepan, cook beef and diced peppers over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the ketchup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Serve on buns. You'll need a fork!

**I found this to be a too mustard-y in flavor, and for our tastes will reduce it to 1/2 teaspoon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Golden Cake Bread

I collect old recipe booklets, often the kind printed by appliance and food manufacturers to promote their products. Some of the covers are barely hanging on, some of the pages are splattered from use by their earlier owners. I love the little notes that cooks of yester-year thoughtfully included.

And so, as good fortune would have it,  I happened upon a wonderful recipe, in the 1958 Pillsbury's BEST 10th Grand National Bake-Off Cookbook, called Golden Cake Bread.  Let me tell you, it was a winner then, and it is surely a winner now.  Mrs. L. M. Jehlik earned second prize ($5,000 in 1958, a fortune, surely), but this takes first prize in our house for its sweet flavor and tender crumb. It's not quite a cake, and it's not quite a bread; I can say with certainty that it is delicious and a recipe I will refer to again. Mrs. Jehlik stated that the recipe was brought to America from Russia by her mother, and 50 years later, there are families who still enjoy and appreciate this thoughtful sharing.

This takes a little time as there are three rising times, but there's no kneading involved.  

Golden Cake Bread
(Mrs. Lillian Jehlik, $5,000 Second Grand Prize Winner in Pillsbury's 10th Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest) (1958)

1 package Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm water

1 cup hot scalded milk
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar

2 slightly beaten eggs (reserving 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

4 to 4 1/2 cups flour

In a small bowl or measuring cup, proof the yeast in the warm water.

Combine the milk, butter and sugar in a large bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Stir in 2 slightly beaten eggs, the vanilla, salt and yeast mixture.

Gradually add the flour to form a stiff batter, beating well after each addition.  Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Beat down the dough and let it rise again until doubled in size, about 3/4 hour.

Divide the batter into two well-greased 9x5x3 inch pans.  Let rise in warm place, about 3/4 hour.  Brush with reserved egg.

Bake in a 350*F oven 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Slow Cooker Sour Cream Cheesecake

This cheesecake was a delicious and delightful surprise. It is creamy, smooth, with a hint of almond. And it's made in a slow cooker; no baking involved! 

It was Ole Sweetie-Pi's birthday this past week and typically I make the Hershey's Chocolate Cake with 7-minute frosting (his birthday cake of choice since he was a boy), but it has been rainy, hot and humid here all week, and the frosting just doesn't work well for me under these conditions. So, Plan B went into effect.  We really enjoy cheesecake, but my favorite recipe makes enough to feed a small nation, much too much for just the two of us.  And then I found this recipe on Food and Wine, made in the slow cooker.  At first I pooh-poohed the idea, thinking that it would never work.  But then....I make my favorite cheesecake in a bain-marie (water bath), plus this recipe had the added bonus of making a much smaller cheesecake.

I don't have the 6-inch by 3-inch springform pan called for in the recipe, but I do have four 4 1/2-inch by 1 1/2 inch pans.  I used three pans with just a dab of batter remaining that I could easily have used now knowing that the batter will not rise and spill over the top of the pans. 

My slow cooker is oval shaped and could only hold two pans at a time, but I refrigerated the third pan and cooked it after the first two were done; had I been thinking, I could have used my round slow cooker for the third pan and they all could have been done at the same time.  Or maybe I'll just buy a 6-inch pan, grins.

Recipe takes some time to put together but it's mostly slow cooker and then cooling times.  Actual preparation time is perhaps 20 or 30 minutes, but then I made my own graham cracker crumbs.  I hope you try this.  It is creamy good and the rewards exceed the effort; my kind of recipe.  I served it with my favorite Blueberry Sauce.  


3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt (equivalent to about 1/16 of a teaspoon)

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure almond extract **
1 cup sour cream

In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and a pinch of salt. Press the crumbs over the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 6-inch round x 3-inch deep springform pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the flour,  2/3 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Beat at medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs and the almond extract. Beat at medium speed until blended. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into the springform pan.

Fill a 6- to 7-quart round or oval slow cooker with 1/2 inch of water and position a rack (I used an openwork cast-iron trivet)  in the bottom. Set the cheesecake on the rack. Cover the slow cooker with a triple layer of paper towels  (to capture the steam and prevent it from dripping on the batter) and place the lid. Turn the cooker to high and cook for 2 hours without peeking. Turn off the heat and let stand until the slow cooker has cooled, 1 hour.

Remove the lid and the paper towels and transfer the cheesecake to a rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.
Heat a sharp, thin-bladed knife under hot water; dry the knife. Carefully run the knife around the edge of the cheesecake. Release the spring and lift the cheesecake out of the mold. Cut into wedges and serve
**For my tastes, the almond flavoring was too strong; I would either reduce it to 1/2 teaspoon, or replace it with either vanilla or lemon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mimi's Sugar Drop Cookies

I have been craving cookies for a while now, but I really didn't want to expend a lot of fuss.  Wouldn't you know, I found the answer to my cookie cravings on Mimi's Kitchen!  Gosh, I love these cookies!  Slightly sugary, crispy on the outside, soft  and tender with a hint of cinnamon on the inside.  Yum! 

And what's even better? Not only are they delicious, but they are quick and easy.  This recipe takes virtually no time at all to put together, is made with standard pantry items, and the rewards are greater than the effort.  This recipe for Sugar Drop Cookies  from Mimi's Kitchen is a definite keeper.  If you haven't visited with Mimi, I encourage you to stop by; something good is always cooking in her kitchen!

Sugar Drop Cookies
(From the Joy of Cooking cookbook)

1 cup sugar
3/4 vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

granulated sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 375F.  (I would suggest using parchment paper lined cookie sheets as the sugar can caramelize the cookies to the sheet, making them difficult to remove.)

In a medium sized bowl, combine the sugar and oil;  mix well.

Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat until well mixed.

Shape dough in 1-inch balls and roll into granulated sugar.

Place the balls on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes. Don't over bake as the cookies will not be brown when they are done.

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

Friday, June 4, 2010

PDQ&E Sweet and Sour Chicken

I received an email newsletter from which featured a this sweet and sour sauce.  The ingredients are simple and ones we typically have on hand, so combined with the fact that we enjoy sweet and sour when we eat out, this recipe immediately caught my eye.

Yum, this was good!   The sauce is piquant, almost too sharp with the sweet and sour flavor (it makes me sneeze, smiles), but I know it's one that we'll be using often.

The recipe is for the sauce only, so how you use it, is up to you.  We often have bits of fresh vegetable left over, and, so this was an delicious way to use them up, plus give them a new interest; what you add and how much is left up to you.

For the sweet and sour chicken, I used two breasts, cut into generous bite-sized pieces, breaded.  Using a pan large enough that will eventually  hold the vegetables, chicken, and sauce, pan fry the chicken over medium heat until golden. Remove chicken from pan and set  chicken aside.

Wipe out the pan, place over heat, and add a little bit of oil.  Add your vegetables and cook until onions are translucent and peppers are crisp-tender.  I had half a green pepper,  half a red pepper, and half an onion. Carrots or celery cut on the diagonal might have been a nice addition, too.  I had some pineapple chunks, added those, too.

Add the chicken back to the vegetables, pour the prepared sauce over, and let it come to a gentle simmer for 3 or 4 minutes.  Serve hot.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Put all the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture has thickened. If the sauce seems a little too thick, add more water. 

Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

This would be a terrific sauce for sweet and sour meatballs.