Magic Muffin Recipe

 

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Mix together:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick salted butter, room temperature

Add:

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
  • 2 3/4 cups self-rising flour (love White Lilly)

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

Variations:

Snicker Doodle: Add 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg to batter, sprinkle top with 1/4 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon.wpid-IMG_20130219_234827_939.jpg

Chocolate Chocolate Chip: Add 1/4 cocoa powder to flour, reserve 2 tablespoons of cocoa/flour mixture. Toss reserved cocoa/flour with 1/2 cup chocolate chips and fold into finished batter.

Cheddar Bacon Chili Corn Muffins: Decrease self-rising flour to 2 cups, add 3/4 cup cornmeal. Stir into finished batter 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar and 1/4 cup well drained Rotel Chilis. Sprinkle top of muffins with 1/4 pound of chopped crisp fried bacon.

Southern Blueberry Muffins: Decrease self-rising flour to 2 cups, add 3/4 cup cornmeal. Stir into finished batter 1 – 2 cups of blueberries. If you used dried blueberries, lean towards 1 cup. If you use fresh or frozen lean towards 2 cups. Fresh and frozen blueberries will increase the baking time almost half again as much (even more so with the frozen berries). They will be well browned on top by the time the batter cooks if you’re using frozen.

Cranberry Orange Muffins: Reserve 2 tablespoons of flour.  To the finished batter grate the peel of one orange and toss the reserved flour with 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries and add to the batter.

Banana Nut Muffins: To the finished batter stir in 4 small (2 large) bananas mashed and 3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans.

Grandma’s Egg Noodles

IMG_20121221_142904_931“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.” — Winston Churchill

This quote has always stuck in my head. Going back over how Grandma lived her life, I think that this is how she greeted each day. We’re going to work through parts of one of the sacred dishes Grandma Furnish was known for: “Chicken and Noodles.” But we’re going to do this in small steps and you can hold my hand, and we’ll do this together. Everyone would wait in anticipation during holiday meals or family meals for Chicken and Noodles. I can remember this dish from way back when we’d have it at Grandma’s house…chicken fresh from the coup, noodles so fine they were like hair. One of my favorite memories is when an old laying hen would be used for dinner, the egg sack would get cooked along with the chicken and the tiny little egg yolks, now hard boiled, would be added to the dish.

When Grandma would make noodles, she would never measure flour…she’d mark the amount of noodles she was making by the number of eggs she’d use for the batch. Her trusty glass Kitchen-Aid mixing bowl would always be filled with the right amount of flour. Then a well would be made in the center and the lightly beaten eggs would be added. You’d mix the eggs with a fork pulling in the flour as you go until a perfect dough formed. After a bit of kneading  out would come the rolling pin, and after cutting the dough ball into smaller portions you’d roll the dough, adding just enough flour to keep it from sticking to the table or the rolling pin. The secret of Grandma’s hand rolled noodles would be to roll them until you could read a newspaper through them.

In recent years my cousin Rick, my uncle Tom and I would join Grandma for the task. Occasionally other family members would stand in and help. She’d make the dough, Rick would roll and I would cut. Once Rick got each portion rolled thin into a huge sheet, we’d brush off the extra flour and cut it into four inch wide strips we could stack. Then I’d take a sharp knife starting on one end of the stacked noodle sheets and cut….no, really shave the noodles off into fine hair like strings. Don’t wait if you’ve stacked them…fresh noodles will stick if you wait too long to cut them.

Grandma never dried her noodles…they’d go from dough, to roll, to cut, tossed with a small amount of flour to keep them from sticking together and to help thicken the broth and then dropped into a boiling pot of stock. This grand production would be completed in a short amount time, usually just an hour or so before it was time to serve. You can choose to make these a day or two before and spread the cut noodles out on cookie sheets tossed with a little flour and let them dry. They store perfectly in the freezer for a couple months if you need to make them that far ahead or decide you’re going to make 9 eggs worth.

I realize the hardest part of an unwritten recipe is getting all the proportions right, so I’ve experimented so that I can give you measurements. You can certainly hand mix and roll your noodles, and you can choose to cut them fine or cut them wider as you prefer, just make sure that your roll them very thin. This is a production…not a quick Tuesday night dinner dish. But this will definitely show the love to those you serve this dish. Coming soon, we’ll go over getting the chicken and broth ready…followed by putting it all together.

Grandma Furnish’s Egg Noodles

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 dash salt (Grandma never used salt…she said it made the noodles tough, so you can choose to add or not; Grandma will still love you if you do)

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add your flour and salt (Grandma…look away) to the bowl, mixing it just a few turns. Add the eggs and mix on stir until the dough starts to come together. It should look be mostly moistened and maybe a small amount of flour in the bottom of the bowl. At this point, you can turn it out on the table and continue to knead and mix by hand until the dough is smooth. If your mixer has a dough hook, switch to it and knead the dough for about five minutes until the dough is one ball, is smooth and the inside of the bowl is clean.

Lets stop here…if you don’t have a mixer with a paddle attachment, hand mix your dough as described above; don’t use beaters to mix this…most likely your stand mixer won’t be strong enough to handle the dough and its a big mess to get it out of all the beater tines. I won’t be responsible for killing your mixer…

When the dough is smooth either by hand or by machine, wrap it in cling film and let it rest for at least 15-30 minutes. This will make rolling the dough out much easier…unless you have my cousin Rick come roll them out for you, then you’re free to keep going.

Grandma Furnish's kitchen table, after we'd finished rolling noodles.

Grandma Furnish’s kitchen table, after we’d finished rolling noodles.

Now comes the decision time…hand roll or machine. I’m not going to pick one technique over the other. I have a great rolling pin that makes perfect noodles. I also have the attachments to roll the noodles out by machine. If I’m making 3 eggs worth by myself, I’ll hand roll the dough. If I’m making 9 eggs or more, most likely I’ll choose to roll them out by machine. Same goes for cutting, small batches I’m OK with whipping out the chef’s knife and shaving my noodles the way I was taught. If I’m making noodles for a crowd, I’m going to cut by machine. Grandma loves me either way.

After resting (you and the dough), cut the dough into four equal portions. Put the waiting portions back under the plastic to keep them from drying out. Flatten the portion you’re working with into a disk and lightly flour it. Also, lightly flour the work space you’re rolling on and your rolling pin. We’ll brush off the extra later if you get too much, but not enough and you’ll glue the noodles to the table. Begin rolling the dough out, turning the dough a 1/4 of a turn each roll until it get thin, dusting under and over the dough as needed to keep the dough free from the table and pin.

Brush the extra flour off and using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 3-4 inch wide strips. Stack the strips up on a cutting board, layering in the small pieces as you go. Using a very sharp knife start at one end of the dough cut across the short end, cutting the desired width…extra fine like Grandma’s or as wide as you like. The noodles will grow a bit as they are cooked, so err on the side of thinner until you get making these under your belt a few times. Toss the cut strips almost immediately with a little extra flour to separate the noodles. Either dry them as described above or work them into your pot of broth (more on this to come). Repeat this process until all the dough is rolled out and cut.

Next post is preparing the chicken and broth for the dish.

 

 

 

 

Grandma Furnish’s Mashed Potato Candy

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The potato in the back looks on in jealousy…as his bag mate was made into delicious mashed potato candy.

No one takes me serious when I tell them about this candy. My Grandma made this every year for me and my brother. And yes, it really is made with a potato.  This is one of Grandma’s unwritten recipes, although I’m sure someone out there has a written down version. Its extremely easy, and always starts a conversation. You should try it, I’m betting it’ll be a favorite of yours too.

Grandma Furnish’s
Mashed Potato Candy

  • 1 medium potato, baked in the microwave
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • dash salt
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar (this is an estimate, you’ll add the sugar till the texture is right. A wet potato will take more)
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup pecans (I like to crush mine, Grandma always left hers whole)
  • 1 package of chocolate coating

Cut the baked potato open and scoop out the flesh into a mixer bowl. Add butter and salt. Mash until smooth. Begin adding powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time. At the beginning the potato will liquefy; but as you add more sugar the mixture will form a soft dough. The final dough texture should be soft but not sticky or gooey. Add the coconut and pecans and mix until blended. Form the dough into two logs and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until completely cold and firm.

Melt the chocolate coating. At this point, you can coat the logs whole, but I like to cut them in half because the little logs coated in chocolate look just like it’s namesake…the potato. Coat them in steps, starting with the bottom,  placing the candy logs on a parchment lined cookie sheet to slip into the freezer to firm up (takes just a couple minutes) and then trimming extra chocolate along the way before dipping the next part. Next, coat the ends, place back on the sheet and pop it back in the freezer. And finally coat the top and sides, returning to the freezer for one last quick chill and set.

Wrap the chilled and firm logs in plastic wrap, then in foil and store in the refrigerator. Because the candy coating is brittle when it’s cold, the logs cut best at room temperature, so pull them an hour or so before you plan to cut them.

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Dru’s Sugar Cream Pie

I adore this pie. At its worst it can be pasty and gloppy; but when you get a really good slice its pure heaven on a plate. Typically this is a Midwestern specialty, I’ve gotten many strange looks when I explain this pie.  I had always used an old Amish recipe to make mine, but occasionally it just wouldn’t set. It was a fairly simple recipe to mix, but baking required starting high, adjusting the temperature lower for the remainder of its time in the oven. And monitoring it as you’d have to have the foil ready if your crust started to get too dark.

A couple years ago my sister Wendy brought a lovely sugar cream pie to our annual Christmas dinner. I asked her for her recipe…and found that her way is so easy and every single pie turns out perfect. Although we have two different schools of thought on ingredients, her pie is amazing and the technique is exactly the same. Her take on the pie uses cornstarch and cinnamon, mine falls back to the Amish recipe I used to use with flour and nutmeg. Her way yields a texture that is incredibly smooth…more like a creamy pudding. Mine is firmer from the flour with a light aroma of nutmeg as you get each bite to your mouth. Either way…you can’t go wrong. Let the pie cool completely before you cut, but give it a 15 second trip through the microwave to warm it up before you eat it.

This is my all time favorite…and after all, it’s the Indiana State Pie!

Dru’s Sugar Cream Pie

  • 2 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 prebaked pie shell
  • nutmeg

Measure milk in a microwave safe measuring cup. Heat in microwave until scalded. Mix flour and sugar together in a heavy bottom pan.  Stir in hot milk with a whisk and cook over medium high heat stirring without stopping until the mixture is thick and just starts to bubble.

Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Pour into a prebaked pie shell and sprinkle nutmeg over the top (fresh grated is best). Cook at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Pie should still be a bit wobbly in the center when its finished. Cool completely before cutting.

Grandma’s Favorite Unwritten Recipes

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Some of Grandma’s favorite dishes are recipes that weren’t written down, or that were so well known that no recipe was needed. I’ll toss in a few of those as I can, starting with one of her favorite make ahead dishes. This one is incredibly simple but does requires a little bit of planning. A few weeks before any holiday meal, Grandma would fix this up in a Tupperware storage container and stash it in the back of the fridge to wait out the event. Occasionally, we’d forget they were there and they’d not make an appearance at the meal, but Grandma didn’t care…these were her favorites, she loved to eat them anytime.

She’d have her own canned pickled beets ready when she needed them; but if you’re not gardening or canning, store bought are just as nice. And from experience…don’t wear a white shirt when you dish these up…as much as you might try, you’re bound to get a splash somewhere. And now would be the time to stash these beauties in the fridge, and they’ll be ready for Christmas dinner. You’ll be able to tell how long they soaked by how far into the interior of the eggs the beet juice has worked itself.

Pickled Beets and Eggs

  • 6 hardboiled eggs, peeled
  • 2-3 cans of pickled beets (about a quart of beets and juice)

Layer the beets and eggs in a tight lidded container, beginning and ending with beets. Don’t drain the beets, adding all the juice is important to get the eggs to turn a brilliant scarlet color. Mix the container on a daily basis, because any eggs touching the sides of the container won’t completely be colored. I discovered a shortcut if you’re using a glass container. Using a fork slide a slice of beet down between the glass and eggs so that they are well hidden and submerged.

Serve  in a lovely open dish (Grandma always had a pretty cut glass dish for hers) along side all the rest of your cold holiday salads. You can leave the eggs whole, or slice them open for sharing. The color and taste are amazing, this is a simple but colorful holiday dish.

I can’t wait…

 

Hello Saturday and Merry Christmas

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Saturday is finally here. The house is ready for company and I’m sipping a cup of excellent coffee waiting for my day to begin. My partner Chris surprised me last night with my Christmas present in time for the Cookie Party. Yes, that’s it up there…a sexy red 5 quart Kitchen Aid. I’d be lying if I said I put away all the shopping before it was unpacked and put into its new home on the counter. And shortly after everything was put away, I already had my new baby making goodies…Grandma’s Mashed Potato Candy (recipe to come).

My old Kitchen Aid (bless its heart) was on its last leg, after having come through so many moves it didn’t know what kitchen it was working in any more. It was in a rebellious stage…to express its anger it had resorted to only two speeds….”fast” and “fling”. So you can imagine we’d had many angry discussions during food prep.

So raise your choice of drink, here’s to many more years of sexy kitchen love. “To you, my little red Corvette…*cough* um…Kitchen Aid.” Thanks Chris!

Let the day begin.