Celebrating Biscuits

Breads of all kinds are comfort foods…for sandwiches, french toast, bread pudding, tea and toast, toast with jam for breakfast, rolls, croissants, boules, baguettes, scones, muffins, and more.  So many flavors and textures to choose from!  Since September is National Biscuit Month, I’m celebrating the biscuit on Comfort Food Monday by combining its fluffy goodness with one of my favorite fall flavors ~ you guessed it: pumpkin!

Adjusting the ingredients in a regular biscuit recipe to accomodate the addition of pureed pumkpin and warm autumn spices, and serving them with a Spiced Maple Butter, gives us yet another way to enjoy one of the South’s classic comfort foods and takes me another step further on my path to “Southern Mamahood.”  As my son settles in at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!!), I’m having a wonderful time doing some virtual settling in of my own, learning more about the South, the amazing destinations we plan to visit, the people and their wonderful hospitality, and of course, the food, which I already loved.  

So here’s my Fall take on an everyday standard: Pumpkin Biscuits with Spiced Maple Butter.  I started with a Buttermilk Biscuit recipe from a Southern Living Magazine special issue ~ it caught my eye because the way the dough is patted out and folded is similar to the technique for rolling and folding croissant dough…which yields lots of flaky buttery layers…yum.  I added my pumpkin and spices.  The Spiced Maple Butter just seemed like the right thing to do.  I’m sure I have a lot to learn about the ins and outs of making the perfect biscuit…but these were a great start! 

Pumpkin Biscuits with Spiced Maple Butter

For the biscuits:
3 cups self-rising flour (I use White Lily Flour; it really does make a difference!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold sweet butter, cut into small chunks
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not Pumpkin Pie mix)
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
pinch of salt
more self-rising flour for patting out the dough2 Tbsp. sweet butter

For the butter:
6 Tbsp. sweet butter, softened
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/2-1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Preheat your oven to 450F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and the Pumpkin Pie Spice and salt  (whisking will add air to the flour, which will help the biscuits to be lighter). Then, with a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly.  Cover and chill the mixture in the fridge for about 10 minutes.   Whisk together the buttermilk and pumpkin, then stir it into the dry ingredients, stirring just until the mixture comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead it just a few times.  Add some flour if the dough is too sticky.  Make sure your hands are floured and pat the dough out into a rectangle (about 9″ x 5″).  Sprinkle a little extra flour over the dough and fold it as if folding a letter (fold one short end of the dough onto itself about a third of the way across, then fold the other short end over onto the dough).  Pat the dough out into a 9″ x 5″ rectangle and fold in thirds as before.  Repeat the process once more.  Then pat the dough out to a rectangle about a half inch thick and cut with biscuit cutters.  Or, I used a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 8 large squares (cut down the middle lengthwise, then cut four times across).  These baked up very large, so next time I’ll cut the dough make 10 or 12 smaller biscuits.  Place the cut biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or into a lightly greased cast iron pan).

Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, then turn the pan.  Look how high they baked up!

Bake them for another 10 minutes, until they’re a nice golden brown.  While they finish up in the oven, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter.  Set aside.  Combine the ingredients for the Spiced Maple Butter and set aside.

As soon as you take the biscuits out of the oven, brush the tops with the melted butter.  Let them cool for a few minutes.

Serve warm with the Spiced Maple Butter and enjoy!

These aren’t just for breakfast.  They’d be tasty with chili, soups and stews, and even as a sandwich roll (ham or turkey, bacon, maple mustard and all your favorite day after Thanksgiving sandwich stuffers.  Try them for dessert,  shortcake style, split and warmed with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and topped with apples sauteed in brown sugar, butter and cinnamon.  Make a double batch so you can serve some and freeze some for another day.  Happy Fall, and Happy National Biscuit Month!

Get Ready for Game Day!

Sloppy Joe’s are always a favorite “go to” meal for weeknights and game days.  And I must say we have eaten our share of the Manwich variety…they are tasty and guaranteed-kid pleasing food.  But they are even tastier and more fun if you make your own “Super Simple Sloppy Sammies!”
Why not change it up a bit?  Choose your ground meat and sauce, cheese and toppings, 
and you’ve designed your very own House Specialty…it’s quick and easy, 
so you’ll have plenty of time to watch the games too!

For the Sloppy Sammie in the pictures, I used one pound ground turkey, one chopped onion, three cloves garlic, minced, Dreamland BBQ spice rub and Sauce, Swiss-Colby cheese slices and mini-Hawaiian sweet sandwich rolls.  This makes enough for 6-8 sandwiches on mini-rolls (these are filling).

Heat a tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat, and when hot, add the onion.  Saute for three minutes, stirring, until slightly soft, then add the garlic.  Saute for one minute, stirring.  Add the ground turkey and the spices (about 2 teaspoons) and cook, continuing to stir, until meat is cooked through. Reduce the heat to medium low, add a cup of the BBQ sauce and continue to cook until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat, spoon over a sandwich roll, and top with the cheese.

Think of all the great Sloppy Sammies you can make:
Ground chicken with pineapple, thinly sliced water chestnuts, and teriyaki sauce, topped with cabbage tossed in Asian style vinaigrette;
Ground beef with balsamic reduction sauce topped with sauteed mushrooms and Asiago or Parmesan Cheese and chopped Italian Parsley (go all out here and use ground sirloin for best flavor);
Ground pork with your favorite homemade or storebought BBQ sauce, topped with traditional cole slaw, and (of course!), bacon;
Ground chicken with peanut sauce, topped with chopped scallions, shredded carrots, and crispy noodles;
Ground beef with tomato sauce, caramelized onions, mozzarella or white cheddar cheese and chipotle mayonnaise;
Ground turkey with sundried tomato sauce, olives and artichoke hearts, topped with sliced Persian cucumbers, Feta Cheese and yogurt dill sauce…
And you can get creative with your breads too ~ regular buns, French Rolls, tortillas, croissants, flat breads…
You get the picture…and as you know I’m fond of make ahead, especially when you’re feeding a crowd; these are great because the meat can be made ahead of time and refrigerated ~ or even frozen ~ so it’s ready when you are.  You can reheat it in the Crock Pot and set out several cheeses, condiments and toppings so everyone can build their own Sammie to make things even easier.  (Depending on your meat and toppings, these are a less expensive way to feed a crowd; just another perk.)
We could be here all day…but we have games to watch!  Share your Sloppy Sammie ideas here; I’d love to know what your family creates!  Bon appetit and Happy Game Day!

Pumpkin Chili is a Fan Favorite!

Sweet and spicy to warm you on chilly fall days ~
a perfect game day meal for a crowd!
Pumpkin Chili
2 lbs. ground beef
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes, with juices
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 cans black beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 bottles chili sauce
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp. chile powder or 1 Tbsp. chile powder and 1 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1 tsp. salt, or more, to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper, or more, to taste
In a large pan (use a dutch oven if you plan to simmer the chili on the stove) over medium high heat, brown the ground beef, onion and garlic; drain fat.  If using a Crock Pot, place meat and onions into the pot (otherwise add other ingredients to the meat mixture in the dutch oven).  Stir in the tomatoes, pumpkin, black beans, kidney beans, chili sauce, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice , chili powder, and salt and pepper.
The chili is best if made the night before and then reheated in the Crock Pot the day you plan to serve it; start on high heat for two hours, then reduce to low heat for 3-4 hours.  About two hours before serving , check the chili for taste and add additional pumpkin pie spice and chili powder if you’d like.   The chili can be made quickly by adding all the ingredients to the meat, onion and garlic in the dutch oven; simmer it on the stove for an hour, stirring every few minutes.  It’s still really tasty! But the flavors will meld and mellow if you make it the night before.
If you want to make a meatless chili, you can add a couple of cans of white/black beans (rinsed and drained) in place of the ground beef; sauté the garlic and onion in a little olive oil until onions are soft, then add the other ingredients as instructed.
Delicious topped with cheese / sour cream / chopped chives.  Serve with Fritos,
cornbread,  Cheesy Pesto Monkey Bread (below) or in a sourdough bread bowl.  This recipe makes a big batch; it’s easily halved or you can freeze some of it for another meal! 
 
Cheesy Pesto Monkey Bread
from Pillsbury’s Your Best Halloween Ever  magazine 2012
Prep time: 10 minutes
Start to Finish: 55 minutes
Servings: 16 (or more, if you cut into smaller pieces)
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 cup (4 oz.) Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup Basil Pseto
2 cans (16.3 oz. each) Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Spray a 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray (or use shortening to grease).
In a bowl, mix the cheeses and pesto.  Cut the biscuits into quarters and place half of the biscuits onto two 1-gallon resealable Ziploc bags.  Pour half the cheese-pesto mixture into each bag.  Seal and shake the bag to coat the biscuit pieces.
Pour the biscuit pieces and cheese-pesto mixture into the pan, distributing evenly.  Bake 42-45 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen.  Place a heatproof serving dish/plate upside down over the pan; turn the plate and pan over.  Remove the pan.  You can pull apart and serve hot with marinara sauce on the side,  or cool slightly and cut into wedges.
Sue’s suggestion: Try making this bread with different kinds of pesto (you can
purchase or make yourself)  or even vinaigrette dressing with added chopped fresh herbs and different cheeses:
Cilantro-walnut pesto with  Asiago and white cheddar cheese;
Greek vinaigrette with chopped dill and Feta cheese;
Parsley-tarragon-pistachio pesto with Swiss and Gruyere cheeses…
the possibilities are endless!
 Enjoy!
Pumpkin Chili
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Sweet and spicy chili with the flavors of Autumn to warm you on those cool fall gamedays!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner, Tailgate, Party
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. ground beef (you can use ground turkey but I think the beef flavor stands up to the spices best)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bottles chili sauce
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt, or more, to taste
  • ½ tsp. pepper, or more, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pan (use a dutch oven if you plan to simmer the chili on the stove) over medium high heat, brown the ground beef, onion and garlic; drain fat. If using a Crock Pot, cook the meat and onions and place them into the pot (otherwise add other ingredients to the meat mixture in the dutch oven). Stir in the tomatoes, pumpkin, black beans, kidney beans, chili sauce, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice , chili powder, and salt and pepper.
  2. The chili is best if made the night before and then reheated in the Crock Pot the day you plan to serve it; start on high heat for two hours, then reduce to low heat for 3-4 hours.
  3. About two hours before serving , check the chili for taste and add additional pumpkin pie spice and chili powder if you’d like.
  4. The chili can be made quickly by adding all the ingredients to the meat, onion and garlic in the dutch oven; simmer it on the stove for an hour, stirring every few minutes. It’s still really tasty!
  5. If you want to make a meatless chili, you can add a couple of cans of white beans (rinsed and drained) in place of the ground beef; sauté the garlic and onion in a little olive oil until onions are soft, then add the other ingredients as instructed.
  6. Delicious topped with cheese / sour cream / chopped chives.
  7. Serve with Fritos, cornbread,or in a sourdough bread bowl. Enjoy!

Monday Comfort ~ Turkey Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Monday, Monday…back to work, school and schedules after the weekend…and with so many family members on different schedules, something comforting hits the spot for dinner.  Grilled cheese sandwiches are a no fail comfort food, and while the classic ooey gooey cheesey sandwich is always amazing, its versatility ensures that this meal never gets old.

In the Fall, you can use the fruits and spices that define the season to create wonderfully tasty (and slightly more nutritious) grilled cheese sandwiches.  Replace some of the cheese with caramelized apples or pears, add some turkey, ham, or chicken (saute your own or use deli meat when you need to save time), stir together a tasty spread, assemble and bake or cook in a sandwich press.  Here’s a yummy combo:
Turkey Apple Grilled Cheese
For two sandwiches:
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced (you can peel if you want; I leave the peel on for more flavor)
1/4 onion, thinly sliced 
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. sweet butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 small turkey breast cutlets 
2 slices Colby Swiss Cheese
4 slices whole grain wheat bread
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
Preheat the oven to 400F.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Caramelize the apples: heat the oil and butter in a large pan over medium high heat.  Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium and saute for a minute or two, then add the apples.  Saute, stirring, until they soften a bit, then stir in the brown sugar and continue to cook until the apples are caramelized and soft but not falling apart.  (This only takes a few minutes.)
Drizzle a little olive oil over the turkey cutlets, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat another saute pan over medium high heat and saute the cutlets for 2-3 minutes on each side until just done (you’ll have to use your judgement based on the thickness of the cutlets).  Remove to a plate and set aside.  
Assemble the sandwiches: Mix together the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard.  Spread on one side of each piece of bread.  Layer the turkey, apples and cheese on two pieces of bread, top with the other pieces of bread.  Spread one outside of the bread with softened butter or margarine, place on the baking sheet buttered side down, and butter the remaining side of bread.  Place the sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes.  Flip the sandwiches over and bake another 8-10 minutes, until nicely browned on both sides.
Remove from the oven and allow to set for a few minutes before cutting.  Serve and enjoy!  
You can get creative with these sandwiches by trying different meat, fruit and cheese combinations ~ ham, cheddar and pear, chicken, fresh thyme, havarti cheese and figs or fig butter/preserves…use flavored mustards or even the new mayonnaise varieties on the market. There are so many great seasonal products that are available in the fall; keep an eye out for things that will make delicious additions to your ultimate grilled cheese sandwiches.  Enjoy! 

Game Day Winning Brownies

Desserts are key to successful tailgate and football viewing parties…after all, a sweet treat makes a victory celebration that much more special ~ or a loss not so bad (there’s always next week!).  These winning brownies are a favorite in our home, and bringing these to a party will guarantee smiles.  Again, best made the night before so they can chill and the flavors can marry.  Bon appetit ~ and Roll Tide! 
Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirled Brownies
Brownie Mixture
4 oz. dark or bittersweet  chocolate, chopped
¾ cup sweet butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra large eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. red food coloring
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
Cream Cheese Mixture
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) sweet butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup sugar
2 extra large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” pan with foil, leaving a couple of inches of foil overhanging the sides of the pan; spray lightly with cooking spray.  Make the brownie batter:
Melt the chocolate and butter on the stove over low heat, or melt in the microwave for 1 minute, then at 15-30 second intervals, stirring in between.  Whisk in the sugar, then add the eggs, whisking after the addition of each one until incorporated.  Stir in the flour, food coloring, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt.
Make the cream cheese mixture: with an electric hand mixer, blend the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Blend in the vanilla, sugar and eggs.  Set aside.
Pour 2/3 of the brownie mixture into the pan and spread evenly.  Carefully pour the cream cheese mixture over the brownie mixture and spread to the edges.  Drop the remaining brownie mixture  evenly over the cream cheese mixture and swirl with a butter knife for a marbled effect.


Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownie comes out with a few crumbs.  Since ovens can run hot or cold, start checking for doneness at 35 minutes.  Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.  Refrigerate until ready to cut into squares and serve.  Enjoy with family and friends!