Magic Muffin Recipe

  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. 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... read more

Grandma’s Egg Noodles

“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... read more

Grandma Furnish’s 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... read more

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... read more

Grandma’s Favorite Unwritten Recipes

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... read more

Hello Saturday and Merry Christmas

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... read more

Shortbread…plain and simple.

This really has to be the easiest, most versatile cookie recipe I know. I use this all the time and continue to come up with new variations. This cookie can be rolled into logs and chilled to cut and bake or you can scoop it out and make drop cookies. I even bake them and then crush them up for my cheesecake crust. I’ll list out some of my favorite variations after the recipe. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Plain Simple Shortbread 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature (If you’re using unsalted butter add a pinch of salt in during the creaming process) 1/2 cup white sugar 1 1/4 cup flour Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar all at once and continue to cream until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the mixture is light and smooth. Add all the flour and continue to mix until the flour is absorbed into the dough. Portion the dough on to a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees, or just until the edges are lightly browned. Cool them on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Variations: Christmas Shortbread: Flavor with 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and form the dough into logs to chill. Before wrapping in saran, roll the logs in sanding sugar in bright holiday colors. Pecan Shortbread: Add 1/2 cup crushed pecans to the dough. Roll the dough into logs to chill, slice and bake as above. Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread: Add the zest of one lemon and 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds to the creamed butter... read more

My favorite memories…

One of my favorite memories of the holidays is when my Mom would have my sisters (Joanne, you count here too!) over for the weekend for a baking marathon. We would make dozens and dozens of cookies and pounds of candy that we’d fill pails (big five gallon icing buckets recycled from the local bakery) to enjoy through the holidays. I’ve tried to re-create this same thing with my friends from work. Its the “Annual Cookie Party”. We pick a Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, start early in the morning with mimosas (and coffee too) and snacks and bake all day, with a crock of soup on for lunch and order pizzas for dinner. I’ve been working hard the past couple weeks to get ready; the house is clean and waiting to be decorated this week for the party and the holidays. This Saturday is the party. I can’t wait to see all my friends and spend the day doing what we all like best. Creating some of the best treats and sharing good times together. The rules are simple. Pick one recipe and bring all the ingredients (minus flour, sugar and eggs…I get those in bulk because they’re not easily transportable). Then we’ll spend the day together…mimosas in the morning…Bloody Marys in the afternoon (This years recipe is called the Asian Mary) and maybe a bottle of wine or two in the evening. Once we’ve all finished, we split up all the baked goods and have all of our cookies ready for the holidays. Maybe you can share my idea with your friends and make a new holiday tradition! Comment on... read more

Grandma Furnish’s Texas Sheet Cake

This recipe was another you could always count on seeing at any holiday gathering. It is really easy to make and very delicious. Make sure you follow the directions and put the icing on the cake while it’s still hot. The icing melts down into the top of the cake and makes it extra moist. Once its cool, you can cut it into squares or bars. Grandma Furnish’s Texas Sheet Cake Prepare one jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) by greasing and flouring, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together: 2 cups sifted flour 1 tsp cinnamon 2 tsp baking soda Add: 2 cups sugar Bring to boil: 2 sticks margarine or butter 2 tablespoons cocoa 1 cup water Pour into the dry ingredients and mix. Then add: 2 eggs Mix well and add: 1/2 cup buttermilk Mix the batter well (about two minutes) and pour into prepared jelly roll pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until cake springs back in the center. Prepare the following icing while the cake is baking and pour over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Bring to a boil: 1 stick of margarine or butter 4 tablespoons cocoa 6 tablespoons buttermilk Add 1 pound of confectioners sugar and one cup of chopped nuts, stirring until... read more

Measurement Conversions

Teaspoons…Tablespoons…Confusion? Here is your list: 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon 2 tablespoons = 1 ounce 4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup 2 cups = 1 pint 2 pints (4 cups) = 1 quart 4 quarts (8 pints or 16 cups) = 1 gallon 1 stick of margarine or butter = 4 ounces Its late…I’ll add more as I come across them. And why didn’t we stick with metrics back in the... read more