Friday, December 17, 2010

Hearty Holiday Sausage Muffins-Contest Winning Recipe

I'm so excited! I entered a recipe contest sponsored by "Made In Oklahoma" foods and our local TV station, KOTV, Channel 6. My entry, Hearty Holiday Sausage Muffins, was chosen as the winner in the "Most Made In Oklahoma Ingredients" category. My recipe was also chosen as the "Top Recipe." Yay!
So...on the noon news this past Wednesday, on the segment "Cooking Corner" they made my recipe. It was really cool to hear my name on TV. You can see the recipe and the video of the chef, Kitchen Kimberly, making it at the link below.

Recipe and Video

Here's the recipe. These muffins are great for a Christmas brunch.

Hearty Holiday Sausage Muffins
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 pound medium pork sausage
1 10 ounce package frozen corn, thawed
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (or to taste)

Oven temperature 375 degrees. Bake 15-19 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 dozen muffins.

Thoroughly cook pork sausage in a medium skillet. Drain and set aside. Combine cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Mix together. Add the eggs, sour cream, and butter. Mix until thoroughly combined. The batter will be light and fluffy. Add the corn, cheese, sweet red pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Fill greased muffin tin with batter almost to the top. Bake 15 to 19 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let pan sit for 1 minute. Remove muffins from pan. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Unsweetened cocoa powder adds a rich chocolate taste to hot cocoa as well as brownies, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. It’s made from roasted, dried, and ground cocoa beans. The final result is a fine, dark brown powder.
Bonus- When you open the container it smells like chocolate! Yum…

Note: Unsweetened cocoa powder should not be confused with powdered cocoa mix or instant cocoa mix. Instant cocoa mix is for making hot chocolate drinks and should not be substituted for cocoa powder in recipes.

Spoon cocoa powder into the measuring cup like you do flour; with a light touch…then leveling off. Store cocoa in a sealed, airtight container in a cool, dark place. It will keep for up to two years.
Learn more about unsweetened cocoa powder at Hershey’s and Baker’s websites.

Next post: Our Homemade Hot Cocoa recipe calls for a dash of salt. I can hear you asking “What’s a dash of salt?” We’ll find out.

*Smile* Sherri

Friday, November 19, 2010

Measuring Spoons-How to Use 'Em

My favorite measuring spoon set.

Measuring spoons are used to measure both dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Shown above is my favorite stainless steel set that I bought from Williams Sonoma a few years back. They have a reflective, polished finish and have really kept the shine even after several washings.

* Measuring spoons are usually plastic, melamine, or metal.
* Measuring spoons usually come in a set in the following sizes: 1 tablespoon,
1 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon,
 1/4 teaspoon and 1/8 teaspoon. You can also buy additional odd-measure spoons that come in 2 teaspoons, 1 1/2 tablespoons and 2 tablespoon sizes.

Always use the appropriate size spoon that is asked for in the recipe.
* Measure liquids by filling the spoon full to the top.
 * Measure dry ingredients by filling the spoon and then leveling off the top with the straight-edge of a kitchen knife.

*Smile* Sherri

Cooking Lessons Online- Recipe: Homemade Hot Cocoa

The last of my summer coleus...before the big freeze!

I’ve been thinking a lot this past couple of weeks about how best to teach cooking online and how to best present this info to my fabulous blog visitors. (That’s you by the way!) After much thought, I'm changing the format up a bit.
I hope you like it and of course your comments are always welcome!
My plan:
First, I will post a beginner recipe. Then in the next few posts, I will write about the:
1. Ingredients
2. Cooking techniques used and…
3. The cooking tools, cookware, and bakeware used in the recipe.

When you see a word in bold in the recipe, get ready, we will be learning more about it.
When you see a word in blue in the recipe it is a link to existing info already on the blog. Click on it to learn more.

Ok…here we go! Let's learn to make homemade hot cocoa…

Homemade Hot Cocoa from scratch…making hot cocoa from a mix is fine but hot cocoa made from scratch has a richer, smoother, more chocolatey flavor I’ve found. It's just more’s really quick to make too.

Homemade Hot Cocoa
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
Dash of salt
5 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
3 ½ cups milk
Mini Marshmallows (for a topper)

Mix cocoa, salt, sugar in a saucepan over medium low heat. Mix in the water. Cook 3 minutes stirring constantly. Stir in the milk. Heat just to boiling. Turn off the heat. Remove pan from the stove with a potholder. Ladle cocoa carefully into serving cups. Careful, it’s hot! Sprinkle some mini marshmallows on top. Makes 6 servings.

Now that we have the recipe, in the next post we will learn about tablespoons…the first bold word in the recipe. The tablespoon is one of several sizes of measuring spoons that we use in cooking.
*Smile* Sherri

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sugar- More than just for sugar cookies!

 Did you know there are several different kinds of sugar?

Everyone knows sugar, the white stuff that sweetens everything from coffee to fancy bakery desserts but did you know there are several different kinds of sugar? Each has its own texture and special uses.

White granulated sugar- This is the all-purpose sugar we are most familiar with. It's used for everyday baking such as sugar cookies, cakes, and for sweetening beverages.

Light brown sugar- This is sometimes called golden brown sugar. It is a natural combination of sugar and molasses. Light brown sugar has a caramel-like flavor with just a hint of molasses. It's used in ham glaze recipes this time of year as well as in chocolate chip cookies and in the crumb topping on apple crisp. Brown sugar is measured differently than white sugar.

Powdered sugar- Powdered sugar has a very fine grain size and so has a light, powdery texture. It is sometimes called icing sugar and is used in making frosting, icing, and candies.

Dark brown sugar- This is similar to light brown sugar but darker in color, with a richer molasses flavor. It is used in cookies like gingerbread men, as well as in savory foods such as barbecue sauces and meat marinades.

Additional sugar types include- Baker's Sugar, Superfine, and Washed Raw. Learn more about the different kinds of sugar and their uses at the C&H Sugar website. Also, check out C&H Sugar for yummy holiday cookie recipes and neat baking gift ideas for the season!

*Smile* Sherri

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pudding-tastes like pumpkin pie!

As promised in my last post here's an easy pumpkin dessert recipe which uses pumpkin pie spice. It's a light, fluffy pudding that tastes like pumpkin pie! It took me about 10 minutes to make it. It's great if you are in the mood for something light at the end of a meal. The recipe is from the September-October 2004 issue of Quick Cooking Magazine.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pudding
1-3/4 cups cold milk
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant cheesecake or vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
10 gingersnaps
1 cup whipped topping

In a large bowl, whisk together milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and pie spice. Let it set for 2 minutes; it will thicken up a bit. Set aside three gingersnaps. Crush the remaining seven cookies. (A neat, easy way to do this is to put them in a plastic zipper bag and mash them with the bottom of a soup can.) Set aside. Fold whipped topping into pudding; spoon into three dessert bowls. Sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Garnish each serving with a gingersnap. Serves three.
Enjoy! *Smile* Sherri

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Spice-Herbs & Spices

Have you ever visited the grocery store and stood in the spice aisle looking at what seems to be hundreds of herbs, spices, and blends? I was in my local grocery store, Country Mart, the other day and found myself staring at all those herbs and spices thinking "What is this spice? That looks interesting. I wonder what you put this in? I wonder where this herb comes from? How does this taste?"

Well, I decided it was high time I learned more about these mysterious concoctions. Will you join me? I will choose an ingredient from the spice aisle every few weeks or so and write about it. Never fear, I will be learning right along with you...

Pumpkin pie spice is a spice blend used often during the fall and winter holiday season. It is used in pumpkin pie of course, but it's also used in pumpkin spice cake, pumpkin bread, spiced nuts, pumpkin cookies, scones, pumpkin roll, pumpkin cheesecake, and many other goodies. It smells heavenly in the jar, just like the holidays!

Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Sometimes ground cloves are added too. You can make your own blend if you have spices on-hand. The recipe below is from the 1995 Nov-Dec issue of Country Woman magazine.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe
4 tsps ground cinnamon
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Mix all together. Store in an airtight container.

Next time I will post a recipe for a quick-as-a-wink pumpkin pudding.
It's easy and uses our pumpkin pie spice. *Smile* Sherri

Saturday, October 9, 2010

School Brown Bean Chowder, Bean Recipe

When I was kid in the 1960s, the cafeteria at my elementary school served the most delish brown bean chowder for lunch. It was a big hit with the students, including me. When it was announced that it was "Bean Chowder and Cinnamon Roll Day" it was THE big news of the morning. I still remember coming in from recess, chilled to the bone, and this chowder really warming up my insides. I'm not sure why the bean chowder was always served on the same day as the homemade cinnamon rolls but I never complained!
This recipe is similar to a mild chili but a little more soup-like. Perfect for fall weather. I like making it with coarse-ground hamburger so you get big, meaty pieces in every bite. The original school recipe was for a crowd and required soaking the dry beans. I adapted the recipe to serve eight and to use canned pinto beans, saving time. Try it and tell me what you think!
School Brown Bean Chowder
2 pounds hamburger (regular or coarse-ground)
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 can tomato puree (10 3/4 oz.)
3 cans pinto beans, drained (16 oz.)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/3 cups water
Brown hamburger, onion and garlic powder together in a large dutch oven. Brown it until the onion looks transparent. Drain off fat. Add the meat back to the dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir together all. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add to serving bowls, sprinkling extra chopped onion on top if you like. Serve it with cornbread for a tummy-warming, rib-sticking meal. Serves 8. Yummy with my prize-winning sausage muffins. *smile*

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The holidays are coming...check your spices!

Ahhh...the weather has finally cooled off here in Oklahoma and the exciting part is it's that time of year for holiday cooking and baking. I'm looking forward to making spice cookies, pumpkin pie, caramel apples, spiced cider and all that yummy good stuff!
Also, it's a good time of year to check the expiration dates on your spices, herbs, and those leavening agents such as baking powder, baking soda, and yeast.
The expiration date is usually located on the bottom or side of the container as shown.

One of my favorite sites, McCormick, has some really great in-depth info on the subject. At McCormick, if you have a McCormick product with a code you can type the code into their Fresh Tester to see if the product is past its prime. Very handy! Remembering to check expiration dates will ensure that your spice cookies will have just the right amount of spice and your dinner rolls will "rise" to the occasion. *Smile* Sherri

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Measuring Cups 3 - Measuring Brown Sugar

Pack it in there!

I love measuring brown sugar. It reminds me of making sand castles at the beach. It's also great for working out your aggressions when you've had a bad day. Ha!

Measuring Brown Sugar-
  1. Choose the measuring cup size your recipe calls for.
  2. Choose a regular kitchen spoon.
  3. Scoop a spoonful of brown sugar from the container. Put it in the cup.
  4. Using the back of the spoon press the sugar firmly down into the cup. Use some elbow grease and really pack it in there!
  5. Add another spoonful of sugar and repeat.
  6. Level off the top with a straight-edge kitchen knife.
How do you know you measured right? When you remove the sugar it should keep the shape of the cup as shown.
Tip: If your brown sugar is hard you can soften it in the microwave. Place the brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover it with a lightly-dampened white paper towel. (I usually sprinkle the towel with a little water from the tap.) Zap it on high for 20 seconds. Check for softness. If it's still too hard zap it for another 20 seconds. Stir. Be careful when removing the sugar from the microwave. It will be hot!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bakery-Style Blueberry Muffins

If you like your muffins sweet and cake-like you'll love this recipe. This recipe makes eight bakery-style (large-topped) muffins or twelve regular ones. 

Tip: How to make those bakery-style muffins you see at the bakery:
  1. When coating the muffin pan with non-stick spray, also spray some on the top of the pan. This is so the underside of the bakery tops won't stick.
  2. Fill up the muffin cups full to the top. The batter will rise up and over just a bit making a big round top.
  3. Add four minutes to the baking time.
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
Cinnamon-sugar topping (optional, see below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the muffin pan with non-stick spray. Cream together the butter and sugar until well blended. Stir together the beaten eggs and milk. Add eggs and milk mixture to the butter and sugar. Stir to blend. In a large bowl stir together the flour and baking powder. Add the wet ingredients to the flour and baking powder mix.  Stir all together, mixing just until all dry ingredients are absorbed. (There may be a few small lumps in the batter, that's ok.) Add the blueberries to the batter. Gently folding them in with a spatula. We want the berries to stay whole. Fill up the muffin cups. For a little extra pizzazz, top the muffins with cinnamon-sugar before baking. Make your own by combining 2 tablespoons of sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Sprinkle three or four pinches of cinnamon-sugar on top of each muffin before baking. Bake regular size muffins for 25-30 minutes and bakery-style muffins for 29-34 minutes. Check muffins for doneness before time is up. Ovens temperatures can vary.
Let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing. Pig out!

Update: Oops! Forgot to mention...for regular size muffins, fill muffin cups 2/3rds full.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Measuring Cups 2- Measuring Flour

It's a little different from the usual scoop and level!

These days most all-purpose flour comes already sifted for you. The word "pre-sifted" will be on the front of the bag. This is why we measure flour "lightly" into the measuring cup.

Measuring Flour
  1. Choose the measuring cup size your recipe calls for.
  2. Choose a regular kitchen spoon. The kind you eat cereal with will do fine.
  3. Take a spoonful of flour from the container.
  4. Hold the spoon an inch or so over the cup.
  5. Tip the spoon so the flour falls gently into the cup. Think "high and light".
  6. Level off the top with a straight-edge kitchen knife. Perfect!

No-nos: You may be tempted to scoop or drag the cup through the flour. This will cause it to pack down in the cup and you'll end up with too much. I know from experience. One day, I did this while in a hurry and I made the driest biscuits you can imagine! Ha!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Measuring Up! With Measuring Cups

Accurately measuring dry ingredients leads to success.

  • Measuring cups are usually plastic or metal.
  • Measuring cups come in a set in the following sizes: 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup.
  • (Tip: Other in-between sizes are also available: 3/4 cup, 2/3 cup, and are handy to have.)
Measuring cups are used to measure dry ingredients such as sugar and flour.
To measure sugar see below:
  1. Choose the measuring cup size your recipe calls for.
  2. Dip the measuring cup into the sugar container.
  3. Hold the measuring cup over the sugar container to catch spills while you measure.
  4. Choose a kitchen knife with a straight edge.
  5. Level off the sugar with the straight edge of the knife by dragging the edge of the knife across the top of the cup. The excess sugar will fall back into the container. You've just measured a perfect cup of sugar!

Measuring brown sugar and measuring flour requires a slightly different
technique-see links.
Now that we've covered measuring cups let's learn about measuring spoons!