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Monday, August 30, 2010

peach muffins and an inn

We took our 4 year old grandson to one of our favorite places in Missouri.  I've talked about this place before and probably will many times in the future...Bradford Inn.  We consider this our home away from home.  It's the quaintest bed and breakfast high above the lights of Branson.  Bob makes the most amazing breakfast.  One thing we always look for is their Peach-Almond Muffins.  You have to get up early though...or they will all be gone.  These are simply delicious!  Our grandson hasn't acquired a taste for them YET!

Peach-Almond Muffin
for the topping
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
for the batter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 - 1 cup peaches (use only fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup oil
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

     Preheat oven to 340 degrees.  Spray standard muffin tins with Pam (works best). 
     In a medium bowl stir and toss together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Take your almonds and crunch them in your hand and add them to the dry ingredients.
     Next, dice your peaches into small pieces.  Stir these into your dry ingredients.  Then make a well in the side of the bowl.  Put the eggs, oil, vanilla and almond extract in the well.  Stir mixture by itself until blended.  Then stir it into the combined dry ingredients in the bowl just until blended.
     Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup a little over 1/2 full. (If you fill the muffin tins too full, the fruit is so heavy it will make the muffins fall in the center).
     Sprinkle each muffin with about 1 teaspoon of topping.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of muffins comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.  Cool in the tin for a moment, then remove to a wire rack.
     Makes about 18-24 standard muffins.

Blogger notes: 
*Make sure you use fresh or frozen peaches in this recipe.  Canned peaches do not work well.  If you use frozen...make sure you thaw first and drain any extra liquid.
*Muffins freeze well!
*Muffin tins just don't work as well with this recipe.  Best to bake in tins without liners.
*I sprinkle almonds on top of muffins before baking. 

Source:  Bradford Inn - 3590 State Highway 265 - Branson, Missouri 65616

Friday, August 27, 2010

cupcake liner search continues

While continuing my search for those cupcake liners we used at the 700 Kitchen Cooking School...I came across this awesome source for cupcake kits. In fact, I not only found a great source for cupcake kits...but I also discovered a new blog to follow.  Did I find the cupcake liners I was looking for?  No, but it was not work without results.  Enjoy some of the great sights from Oh Happy Day, parties and pretty things. 

 Check out these colors. 
Just a couple of many to choose from. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

a twist on cupcakes

While in Savannah, GA - my husband and I participated in a culinary class at the 700 Kitchen Cooking School.  These Butter Pecan Cakes were just one of the many delicious things we made.  What fun we had. 

Things that Chef Darrin told us about when preparing these delicious baked goods....
1.  Make sure you soften butter and cream cheese at room temperature.  No microwave melting. 
2.  Making your own buttermilk (Milk with vinegar added) is not the best - the real stuff here
3.  don't substitute regular salt for the kosher salt
4.  vanilla extract...not vanilla flavoring
5.  dip your cupcakes in the pecans...don't sprinkle on top

Butter Pecan Cakes
1  cup (2 sticks) softened butter, divided use
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided use
2 cups chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup marshmallow cream
1 lb. powdered sugar
3 tablespoons whipping cream-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners. 
-Place 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and the cream cheese into a mixer bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes or until creamy.  Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating for 5-7 minutes.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears
-Combine flour, soda and salt in a small bowl.  Add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.  Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
-Pour batter into cupcake liners.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely on rack. 
-Place 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, marshmallow cream, powdered sugar, and whipping cream in a mixer bowl.  Beat with electric mixer until blended and creamy. 
-Frost each cupcake.
-Top each with chopped pecans.

Source:  Chef Darin @ 700 Kitchen Cooking School (Mansion on Forsyth Park
QUESTION:  See the neat paper cupcake holders in the picture.  They are tall, cylinder shaped.  Does anyone know a source where these can be purchased?  I've looked extensively on the web. 

Read more »

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

first day of school breakfast

Oatmeal w/Almonds and Banana Muffin. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

salad haters beware

There is just something about the sugared-almonds in this salad that make it addictive!  You really have to watch that you don't burn the almonds as you prepare them.  I put the mixture on waxed paper to cool and then break them apart.  Cutting the mandarin oranges in bite-sized pieces add more bites of sweet.  I have made this salad so many times I can make it without looking at the recipe...Love that when it happens!  I call that a favorite!!!  Leftover salad dressing makes a good marinade for cucumbers and tomatoes.  Leftover almonds are often used in oatmeal the next morning.  

Checkout the vintage salad dressing jar I found at an Amish store this past summer.  I paid fifty cents for two.  What a bargain!   
Sweet and Crunchy Garden Salad
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 head iceberg lettuce, rinsed
1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of black pepper
Dash of cayenne
3 green onion (scallion) tops, thinly sliced
1 22-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained and chilled
Mix the almonds with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring as the sugar melts and the almonds brown.  Carefully spread the almonds on an ungreased baking sheet to cool, using a metal spatula; the nuts are very hot.  When completely cooled, break the candied almonds into tiny pieces. 

Tear the iceberg and romaine lettuce into pieces and wash well.  Dry the greens thoroughly and transfer them to a salad bowl.  Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Combine the oil, vinegar, remaining sugar, and the parsley, salt, pepper and cayenne in a bowl, mix well.  Chill and cover in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Combine the lettuce, sliced green onions, candied almonds and orange segments in a large salad bowl.  Just before serving, toss the salad with enough dressing to coat the greens.

Cookbook - trisha yearwood - Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen
This cookbook reminds me of both of my grandmother's cooking.  The photographs of the many of the dishes are well-done and special messages from family members are included. 

Source:  Yearwood, Trisha. "Sweet and Crunchy Garden Salad." Recipe. Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2008. 64-65.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

culinary class lessons learned

What I learned at the 700 Kitchen Cooking School....
  • I have been measuring flour wrong for over 40 years.  I now know why I don't have much success with bread making.  Anxious to have success soon after using this new method of measuring.
  • The correct way to hold a knife and use it.
  • Baking bacon is the best method.
  • A different way to cut a tomato is out there.
  • How to store fresh herbs in order to keep them fresh.  
  • Emulsifying (I have a new kitchen tool to purchase)
  • A new way to cut an onion.
  • There are some neat, cylinder shaped cake papers out there. I come!
  • I have lots more to learn!

freeze and enjoy later

One of the recipes my daughter and I prepared to freeze recently was Spaghetti Casserole.  The title is nothing special but the taste is!  I don't remember where I got this advice - always put your source down no matter what.  It might be from a magazine at an office while you are waiting for an appointment, website, food network, family member or friend...just remember, like I haven't in this case, to write down where you got the recipe.  Freeze and enjoy this casserole later.  It has an even better taste when you do.  When I freeze casseroles...I cook the dish for three-fourths of the designated time, cool and freeze.  I put the frozen dish in the refrigerator first thing in the morning or night before I'm going to prepare it, then bake it for the remainder amount of time (or a little longer).   I failed to mention...This dish is very easy to prepare! 

8 ounces spaghetti
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 pound ground, unseasoned pork
1 med. onion, chopped fine
1 med. green pepper (optional), chopped fine
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1-16 ounce tomato sauce
4 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven 425 degree F. Cook pasta and drain.  Whisk together pasta, milk and egg.  Spread in buttered 9x13 baking dish.  Cook pork, onion, green pepper and garlic in large skillet for about 6 minutes.  Drain off fat.  Stir in seasonings and cook another 2 minutes.  Spread meat sauce over pasta in dish.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Cook 10 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Monday, August 16, 2010

soup's ready

Recently my daughter and I spent a day preparing future meals to freeze for busy school days ahead.  One recipe we made was Chicken and Rice Soup.  I'm not sure where I got this recipe...had it in the recipe book for several years.  It's a favorite at our house!  We put two-serving portions in freezable containers for easy warming and meals needed in a hurry.

Chicken and Rice Soup In a large pan, cover four small chicken breasts with water.  Cook over medium heat until tender.  Remove chicken from broth.  Skim fat or strain.  Dice chicken into bite-size pieces and return to broth.  Add spice bag (see recipe below).   Add 2 cups shredded carrots, 1 tablespoon minced onion, 1 cup sliced celery, 2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth, 2 teaspoons seasoned salt, freshly ground pepper.
Cook over medium heat for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add:  4 oz wide egg noodles (or other pasta of choice), 1/4 box Uncle Ben's Original Wild Rice (cooked without flavoring packet).

Spice Bag  Take a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and place 8 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme in the middle.  Tie in a ball with white thread.  Discard when soup is done.         

Friday, August 13, 2010

on the road

My husband and I have spent a long day in a vehicle...moving away from beautiful and delicious Savannah, GA.  We are in Clarksville, TN...just devoured a pizza cooked in a convection oven and a prepackaged brownie.  This food was quite different from the scrumptious food from the South.  I have new cookbooks in tow and plan to make several new recipes in the coming weeks.  Looking forward to sharing many new and delicious dishes with my blog readers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

700 Kitchen Cooking School

Steve, myself and Chef Darin
"Black and Blue" Biscuit BLT's
The highlight of today in Savannah was taking the culinary class... Summer Picnic at the 700 Kitchen Cooking School.  My husband and I both love to cook so we thought this would be a great choice for us.  We couldn't have picked a better day, as this was the hottest day in Savannah since arriving, so a reprieve from the heat was just what we needed. 

This cooking school is located at the Mansion at Forsyth Park at 700 Drayton Street in Savannah.  The class was approximately 3 hours long.  It was very hands on and informative.  Learning many new culinary techniques and proper usage of a knife were just a couple of the highlights.  We prepared  food and then enjoyed our meal, that we collaboratively prepared, together.  Our small group was great to work with and Chef Darin was very knowledgeable and inviting.  It was evident that he enjoys what he does and wants his participants to learn!  What did we make?
    Mini Butter Pecan Poundcakes

  • Romaine "spoons" with Chimichurri
  • "Black and Blue" Biscuit BLT's
  • Melon and Green Tomato Salad
  • Mini Butter Pecan Poundcakes
  • Blackberry Lemonade
Look at a future post for our favorite recipe. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It was wonderful!

Savannah, Georgia days continue...A day with a simple and light breakfast at Goose Feathers, beach time at Tybee Island, a little shopping (Parker's Market was my favorite places), hotel pool relaxation, dinner at Lady and Son's, music and sightseeing at City Market and a drive through the beautiful streets of Savannah at night.

My husband and I enjoyed wonderful meals at Lady and Son's Restaurant tonight.  As we walked from our hotel through City Market to arrive for our 7:00 reservations our anticipation grew.  We were delighted to arrive 20 minutes early and immediately directed to our table.  The surprise of the night was that we were eating on the third floor...didn't realize that the restaurant was on all three levels.  The movement to our table via entry door, elevator and long hallway was very well organized and greetings received from friendly staff at each entrance.  Our table was by a window where we could see people moving about the street.  We were hardly seated when a nice gentlemen brought us a garlic biscuit and hoe cake.  Our waiter Michael welcomed us and explained the menu.  I opted for one of the specials...Grilled beef tenderloin topped with bleu cheese butter. Served with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach and mushrooms. Accompanied by bacon wrapped scallops.  It was delicious!! 

Lady and Son's garlic biscuit and hoe cake!  Yummy!

Another visit to the Paula Deen store followed.  This was not our first visit and probably will not be our last.  I purchased another cookbook ...imagine that!   

Monday, August 9, 2010

It was all about Paula Deen today!

I've been away...but for a good reason!  My husband and I are taking a vacation in Savannah, GA.  Beautiful is the word that sums up this city.  The people are so friendly, there are so many places to visit and Paula Deen lives here!  What more can I say?  The Paula Dean Tour was the highlight of our day today!  We learned so much about the history of her empire!  Our reservations to eat at Lady and Sons is tomorrow night!  Polk's Fresh Market is a local favorite of hers.  It was our first stop.  Oh, did I mention? - I bought two new cookbooks today!  More information on those in future posts.

Byrd Cookie Company is the place where Paula buys the Key Lime Cooler cookies she uses in her famous Key Lime Tarts.  It was the neatest place!  Samples of all kinds of cookies were offered and the shopping was lots of fun!  Key Lime Tarts is on my list to make soon! 

Lunch was served at Uncle Bubba's Oyster House (Paula's brother).  We ate at the site where Paula's Party was filmed.  The food was delicious!  What did we eat or should I say my husband eat?...Low Country Boil which is a common find on most menus at restaurants in Savannah.  This seafood dish is a combination of sausage, shrimp, crab, potatoes and corn.  Now sit down for this - but I'm not a fan of seafood so I opted for pulled pork.  The people down soft think macaroni and cheese is a vegetable so we've had a lot of that side dish along with lima beans and cole slaw!

Our day ended with a stroll along Savannah's River Street watching fishing boats go out and visiting one of our favorite places so far - Savannah Candy Kitchen.  We have stopped by both nights since arriving to taste free samples which is whatever they are making in the kitchen at the moment.  My family and friends will be receiving some souvenirs from this Savannah gem!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Long and busy days ahead!

Today, I'm in the kitchen cooking with my daughter.  Since we are both educators, we are returning to school shortly. Our mail goal today is to prepare meals for the freezer. Yes, those meals you can remove from the freezer with little work - on those long and busy days! Check out my next post for recipes being prepared today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Clean Kitchen

Smiles!!!  My kitchen remains clean tonight...someone else cooked! We went to my sister's tonight to celebrate my niece's birthday.  On the menu - lasagna, salad, cheese bread, watermelon and ice cream cake. 

Heading to the Amish early tomorrow morning.  The whole gang is going!  Unfortunately, hot donuts only on Saturdays! 

Learned on Facebook that one of my favorite bloggers and cookbook author, The Pioneer Woman (Lee Drummond) will be on The Today Show tomorrow morning.  The DVR is set to record. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Three-Bean Salad
1 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut
8 ounces yellow wax beans, trimmed and cut
1 (15.5 ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1.  Heat the vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.  Pour into a bowl large enough to hold the salad and set aside.
2.  Cook the green beans and yellow beans in 3 quarts boiling water seasoned with 1 tablespoon salt until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Plunge the beans immediately into ice water and allow to cook for 2 minutes before draining.
3.  Stir all the beeans, the onion and the parsley into the vinegar mixture and refrigerate at least 8 hours to let the flavors meld.  Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

My thoughts...
- best flavor, prepare this salad a day before
- easy preparation, use can green and yellow beans (make sure you drain and rinse)
- keeps in the refrigerator for days, taste improves each day

Source:  Three-Bean Salad. "The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. "America's Test Kitchen, 2005. 89.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Our family took a trip to the St.Louis Zoo this past weekend and ventured out to a place our daughter highly recommended for lunch.  Crown Candy Kitchen is a famous little place in St.Louis known for their malts and BLT's.  After standing in line for over an hour...we finally savoured the malts, sundaes, BLT's, etc.  The amount of bacon on the sandwiches was amazing.

Garden BLT's (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato)... With tomatoes and cucumbers a plenty right's BLT Time!  Whole wheat bread is my preference...toasted, of course.  Add a generous layer of mayo on each inside piece of bread.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Nothing earth shattering here...I add sliced red onion or vidalia onion, sliced cucumbers along with the traditional bacon, lettuce and tomato inside.  Yum!

Check back tomorrow for the Three Bean Salad recipe in this picture.