A Few Of My Favorite Things

When you are a food blogger you are constantly trying new things to inspire your cooking.  I seldom spend a lot of time thinking about recipes I have already put on the blog unless I am incorporating  them into a new recipe.  I think that is why I was so caught so completely by surprise when someone asked me what is my favorite recipe on  the blog.  I had just never thought about it.  Well, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my favorite recipe on the blog today.  Here are some of the recipes I make over and over from my blog.

  1. Chocolate Ricotta Muffins   —   Muffins are by far my favorite thing to bake.  I have more muffin recipes than other kind of recipe in my to try files and a large number of adaptions on the blog.  Of all those muffin recipes, Chocolate Ricotta muffins are my absolute favorite.
  2. My Mom’s Chicken Soup –– This is the only recipe on the blog I haven’t changed a single thing about.  I have eaten this soup my whole life and it is still one of the most requested things my mom makes when me and my brothers come home.
  3. Italian Tomato Sauce — spaghetti sauce is the first thing I ever made from scratch. The recipe came from a 4-H cooking manual. I made that recipe dozens of times when I was a kid.  That recipe is long gone.  Now I use Mollie Katzen’s recipe for Italian tomato sauce.  It’s even better than the 4-H sauce.
  4. Air Fryer Chicken Wings – I have eaten more chicken wings in the year and a half I have had my air fryer then I have in the entire rest of my life. I usually just pat the wings dry, season them heavily with my favorite Primal Palate spice blend or Magic Mushroom Powder, see #5, and fry them till crispy.  I don’t usually toss them with sauce but you certainly can if you want to.
  5. Magic Mushroom Powder — I love making spice blends because spices can take a boring meal and make it something special  without a lot of effort.   I usually just make enough a spice blend to last 1 or 2 recipes but Michelle Tam’s Magic Mushroom Powder is different.  I make larger batches and keep it around for all my everyday cooking.  I use it on everything. Magic Mushroom Powder doesn’t add a lot of flavor to a dish on its own. Instead when you use it, it amplifies the flavors already there.

I have over 650 recipes on the blog so this is just small handful of the recipes I use regularly when I cook.

Crockpot Blueberry Oatmeal

This week, in effort to get out of my house a little more often, I went for a walk.  About 6 blocks from my house I discovered there is a new branch of the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch thrift store.  This excited me to no  end, I love thrift stores because you never know what treasures you are going to find.

I certainly found some treasures.  The first thing I saw when I came in the door was a beautiful McCoy brown drip pitcher. 

I have collected brown drip dinnerware and cookware  for a few years because it is sturdy and beautiful. It was a big thing in the 60’s and 70’s.  You would collect stamps when ever you spent money at a participating merchant and whenever you had enough stamps to fill a little booklet you could redeem it for a piece of dinner or cookware.  I can remember licking those stamps and putting them in the booklet for my mom.

The pitcher wasn’t the biggest treasure I found. The biggest treasure I found was two McCoy brown drip coffee cups.

Brown drip coffee cups are hard to find and when you find them they are often more expensive then I can afford.  I got both of the coffee cups for 6 dollars. It almost felt like I was stealing from the store when I knew how much those coffee cups are worth.

l also found a third coffee cup, a creamer and sugar bowl that are in the style of brown drip.  I think they are replicas not authentic brown drip. That’s okay, they are cute and tie in with a project I am working on so I brought them home any way. 

Today’s recipe is a crockpot recipe.  I don’t  often use my crockpots because I think they do strange things to the texture of food. But after a long talk with a couple of friends who are crockpot fanatics, I have decided to give it ago.  The hard part is finding the perfect cooking time for my adapted recipes.  Since I am cooking smaller amounts of food in my crockpot it’s hard to find the exact time that cooks the food through but doesn’t over cook it but I am working on it.

Blueberry Steel Cut Oatmeal

Adapted from The Family Freezer

1 cup steel cut oats

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

2 TBS brown sugar

3 cups water

Combine all the ingredients in the crockpot and cover.  Cook 2 – 2 1/2 hours on low.  Serve with milk.

Chocolate Sun Butter Bread

I told you I was gonna post more this month.  It helped I was very inspired on Friday night.   My co-worker gave me a huge bin full of cookbooks, cooking magazines, cooking pamphlets and tons of recipes she cut out of magazines for, probably, years.  I spent Saturday morning sorting through this bin and found so much great stuff.  There are a lot of church and community cookbooks, which I love.   These cookbooks are a reflection of what real people eat at that moment in time. The cookbooks range from 2003 to 1975, which means they came out when I was 6.

The magazines are Taste of Home and Quick Cooking.  They magazines aren’t as old as some of the cookbooks. The oldest magazine I found was from 1999 and the newest, so far, from 2003. It is, in most cases, impossible to date the pamphlets and recipe clippings.  But, I am guessing, they would be from around the same time as the magazines.

Many of the cookbooks and magazines have recipes that rely heavily on processed ingredients like canned cream soups.  I don’t use very much processed food in my cooking so it is fun to me t see if I can come up with a way to make the recipe without the processed ingredient.

Why are these things so inspiring to me? Even today, community and church cookbooks aren’t known for having well edited recipes.  The directions are often minimal and , sometimes, incomplete. To me, its fun to see if I can figure out how to make them work regardless.

In one of the church cookbooks I looked at on Saturday, I found a recipe for peanut butter bread.  I wanted to make so bad but I didn’t have any peanut butter and I didn’t really want to run out at 4 in the morning to get some.  Before any asks, yes, I really do bake at 4am, sometimes even earlier.   I substituted some chocolate Sun Butter I had for the peanut butter. It worked really well.

Chocolate Sun Butter Bread

3/4 cup plus 2 TBS flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 TBS chocolate Sunbutter

3 TBS lightly beaten egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well. In another medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, Sunbutter, egg, and butter milk. Mix until the brown sugar is dissolved. Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Stir until the flour is just combined. Spray two 5 x 3 inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each pan 2/3’s full of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Crispy Onion Chicken

This morning I thought of my little brother while I was cooking and how much he would hate this recipe. Why? He hates onions. I never met anyone who hates onion as much as he does. I mean he hates onions the way I hate beets, with a mad passion. Beets are the one food I won’t eat under any circumstances, not even to be polite. He is the same way with onions. The only difference is beets aren’t the flavor foundation of every cuisine ever. Beets are much easier to avoid.

I am not sure I would know how to cook without onions. It would be an interesting experiment but not one I am going to tackle today. Today I am piling on the French’s Fried onions and loving every second of it. The onions don’t really stick to the chicken even after you dunk the chicken in the butter. Don’t worry about it. Just pack the onions on top of the chicken and bake. I used a 2 1/2 oz can of French’s Onions and it covered the top of two chicken breast halves.

Crispy Onion Chicken

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

2 8 oz chicken breast halves

1 2 1/2 oz can french fried onions, crushed

In a shallow bowl, combine the butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, mustard, , salt and pepper. Dip chicken in the butter mixture and coat with onions. Place chicken in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Top with any leftover onions and drizzle with remaining butter.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until juices run clear.

Broccoli Slaw

Last month I did almost no cooking. Aside from a few slow cooker experiments, I lived on sandwiches, salads and take out. I wish I could say it was because I was out saving the world or something noble like that, but the truth is I just didn’t feel like cooking so I didn’t. It happens to me from time to time. I usually just need a break to recharge the mental and creative batteries I come out the other side of the break more creative and ready to cook again.

For the month of May, I am concentrating I using thing I already have in my fridge, freezer, pantry. I am going to start with a simple salad, that was inspired by a broccoli slaw salad I bought at a neighborhood deli. I really liked the salad but didn’t want the mayo based dressing everyday. I wanted a broccoli slaw salad that used a vinegar based dressing to make it a little less heavy.

The pantry ingredients I used in this recipe were the apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, dried cranberries and almonds.

Broccoli Slaw

Adapted from Hungry, Healthy, Happy

1 bag broccoli slaw

1 celery rib, sliced

2 TBS canola oil

2 TBS Apple cider vinegar

1 TBS honey

pinch salt and pepper

dried cranberries and almond, optional

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli slaw, celery and dried cranberries. In a small jar, combine the canola oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Cover and shake well to combine. Pour the dressing over the broccoli slaw mixture. Combine well. If you are using the almonds, add them to each individual serving so they stay crunchy.