Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits: Sunlight
There is nothing as awesome as a fluffy, warm, buttermilk biscuits, slathered in butter and some jam or jelly. In the south they take their biscuits seriously. Every person who makes buttermilk biscuits think theirs are the best, and their families will adamantly agree. I’m here to tell you I think mine are the best, because of course I do, and they really, really are! 😉

My mom made bread occasionally, but I don’t ever remember her making biscuits. That didn’t stop her from helping me figure them out though, and I actually won a ribbon in 4-H for buttermilk biscuits. In all honesty, there weren’t many entries, and I remember mine were sort of misshapen, but they tasted really good. After that I didn’t revisit buttermilk biscuits again until after Jamison and I married. Even then it took me a while to get them exactly how I imagined them in my head, and it was long after we figured out Jamison is allergic to gluten, but I finally did, and these are the result.

Buttermilk Biscuits: Goodness

The biscuits mix up quick, and in no time you have fluffy, warm pillows of goodness, ready for your favorite butter and toppings. We’re talking 30 minutes from start to finish. They’re good for sausage and ham biscuits too, or breakfast sandwiches, or they’re perfect just as is. No matter how you slice them, you’re looking at buttermilk biscuit perfection!

Buttermilk Biscuits: Ready to Eat

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
Buttermilk
1 pastry cutter or fork
Flour for the counter and cutter
1 biscuit cutter or small glass

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar until incorporated. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter in to the flour mixture until crumbles form. Next stir in butter milk until dough forms. Start with 1/2 a cup and slowly add more until dough forms in to a ball. It may be a bit between crumbly and sticky at the same time, it’s funny like that, but that’s ok. Usually you’re going to use about 1 cup of buttermilk total, but you might need slightly more, or slightly less, depending on the humidity and such.

Take the dough out of the bowl and put it on a surface that has been sprinkled with a thin layer of flour. Give the dough a few kneads to incorporate all of the ingredients. If it’s sticky, sprinkle on a bit more flour and knead it in until it’s a relatively dry dough. Shape the dough in to a round and flatten to about and inch thick. Fold the dough over on itself toward the middle from both sides and then press the dough back out again to an inch once more. Repeat this 2 or 3 times.

After the final press, take a biscuit cutter or a small glass and dip it in flour and cut your biscuits and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Cut the dough until you run out. You may need to shape the last of the dough in to a round for baking. Depending on the size of your cutter, you’ll end up with 8-14 biscuits, give or take.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Buttermilk Biscuits: Baking

Notes: I like to use King Arthur Flour. I really like their products. I’ve used White Lilly in the past as well, I did grown up in Tennessee after all, but I really prefer King Arthur.

I use organic cane sugar in everything, but regular refined sugar will work ok too. The same with the sea salt, I always use it, but table salt will work too, though I find it to be a bit more strong that sea salt, so you might want to cut it back to 1/2 -3/4ths a teaspoon if you do go that route.

A word on the folding of the dough. This is a very quick method that forms the layers of the biscuit. I mean look at these beautiful little layers:

Buttermilk Biscuits: Layers

Aren’t they gorgeous?

My favorite toppings are Irish butter and strawberry or blueberry jam. These are a few of my favorites:

Buttermilk Biscuits: Jelly, Jam and Irish Butter

Pumpkin or sweet potato butters are good as well.

Now it’s time to eat! Enjoy!

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole
Growing up in the South I attended a lot of pot luck dinners. There were always certain things there, and amusingly, everyone had a different way of making them. Deviled eggs usually made an appearance, some made with pickle relish, some not, some sprinkled with paprika, some piped with a flower icing tip. Another sure bet was cornbread. You’d find some people made it sweet, some didn’t, and which ever camp you were in, you were adamant that your cornbread was the best. There was usually a Jello salad of some sort. And you’d almost certainly find some sort of Ambrosia salad. Potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken…oh my! No two were alike. Ever. Another sure bet was a chicken casserole.

Chicken casserole, oh the many ways this dish can be made! This variety is made with a cornbread/stuffing like topping. When I go to Tennessee these days, I end up cooking a few times while I’m there. My mom doesn’t enjoy cooking anymore and she jokes that she’s my sous chef and does the chopping and cleaning. Last week when I was there, I made Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Casserole and Irish Stew on Saint Patrick’s Day. This version of Chicken Casserole is mostly how my mom made it. It has a cornbread/stuffing topping, two kinds of cream of soups, lots of chicken, and a surprise ingredient that she usually didn’t add…sour cream.

This makes the perfect meal, paired with a salad. It’s hearty and the ultimate comfort food when you’re looking for something that reminds you of childhood, or my childhood at least. You can’t go wrong.

What You’ll Need:
2-3 cups of chicken, chopped (Note: You can use white meat or dark meat or a mix of both.)
1 can of cream of celery soup (Note: You can buy a soup or make you own. I usually make one, but this go around I stuck to the canned variety. Pacific makes some good cream of soups you could use. If you can’t find celery, you can use cream of chicken.)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Note: See above.)
1 cup of sour cream
Sea salt
Pepper
4-6 cups of crumbled cornbread (Note: I prefer unsweetened cornbread for this, but when I made it at my mom’s house we used a Jiffy mix and it was good. Again it’s a preference thing. I think it’s better with regular cornbread, but you can go either way. Use 4 cups if you want a thinner topping, 6 if you like a thicker variety.)
2 tablespoons of ground sage
2 eggs
1 cup of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray and spread out the chicken in an even layer:

Chicken Casserole: Chicken

Add soups, sour cream, a pinch of each salt and black pepper to the chicken:

Chicken Casserole: Soups, Sour Cream, Salt and Pepper

Stir to mix:

Chicken Casserole: Ready for Cornbread Topping

In a separate bowl, crumble the corn bread:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread

Add a pinch of each salt and pepper and the ground sage:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread, Sage, Salt and Pepper

Next add eggs and broth and stir to mix:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread Topping Ready to Spread

Spread the cornbread mixture out over the chicken:

Chicken Casserole: Read to Bake

Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown:

Chicken Casserole: Baked!

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: There are so many variations of this casserole you can make. If you want, you can use a stuffing mix as the topping, instead of making a basic cornbread stuffing. More chicken is fine, so is less. You can switch out the soups and use different kinds. Mom had some sour cream that needed to be used, so that’s why I added it this time, as an experiment, and I ended up liking it a lot, but if you don’t have sour cream, you could use a little milk of cream instead, about 1/2 a cup.

Southern Baked Beans

Southern Baked Beans

Growing up when we had a barbecue or cook out nine times out of ten baked beans would be present. I don’t know if that is just a Southern thing or what, but invariably there would be baked beans and potato salad. As I’ve gotten older my version of what baked beans should be has changed a bit, but sometimes it’s fun to take a trip down memory lane and make them like the beans of my childhood. I still like my version a bit better, but these beans are ridiculously easy to make and sometimes ridiculously easy is exactly what you need when you want something in a hurry.

Oh and on a side note I’m taking the weekend off so What’s For Dinner (after this afternoon’s addition) will be back on Monday! Have a great weekend everyone! :o)

What You’ll Need:
2 large cans of pork and beans
1 cup of a good, sweet barbecue sauce
1/4 cup of natural brown sugar
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of mustard
1 onion, chopped
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large baking dish mix together all ingredients until well incorporated. Bake for 1 hour.

As far as serving you can serve them right out of the oven, or you can chill them first and then serve them cold. They are good either way.

See…Ridiculously simple!

Notes: You can also add in a chopped bell pepper if you like.

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters

I have to admit I had never tried corn fritters before Saturday on our “fry” day, but I was sold after one bite! This recipe is adapted from one from Paula Deen and I have to give Miss Paula props because she is most definitely the Queen of all things fried!

We ended up making some Ranch Dressing to dip them in and the combination was just wonderful together! If you’ve never had a corn fritter before they are similar to hush puppies, but they have corn kernels incorporated in the batter. The combination just goes so well together. I’ll definitely be making these again in the future!

What You’ll Need:
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup milk
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 package of frozen corn

Preheat oil to 325 F.

In a large bowl stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar and salt until well mixed. In a separate bowl beat together milk and eggs. Next add the egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir to incorporate. Stir butter and corn into the batter and mix well.

Drop batter by the spoonful into the preheated oil. Cook the fritters until golden, turning once or twice to make sure it browns on all sides. Drain the fritters on paper towels and serve alone or with Ranch Dressing.

Corn Fritters

Notes: Leann and I talked about it and we think it might be nice to add some chopped onion into the mix as well. I think buttermilk would be a good addition in place of regular milk as well.

Fried Dill Pickles

Fried Dill Pickles

When I first heard of fried dill pickles a few years ago my first reaction was “Why???” I mean I love dill pickles in and of themselves, but fried? Then I actually tried one I was extremely surprised that they were pretty good. My sister loves them. When we told her we were doing a “fry” day she immediately asked both of us “You’re making fried dill pickles right?” So we made some fried dill pickles, because what the pregnant lady wants, the pregnant lady gets! (Pregnant and dill pickles…Oh the stereotypes! ;))

The batter for this version came completely out of my head. When I was thinking about making them I thought it would be nice to add dill into the batter to amp up the dill flavor. Leann and I both were very pleased with the result! We nibbled on quite a few as they came out of the fryer. Katherine liked them dipped in Ranch Dressing, but Leann and I both thought they were best on their own without any sauce. The things people do with dill pickles! 😉

What You’ll Need:
Sliced dill pickles (or what they call “hamburger chips”…I actually just sliced whole dill pickles myself.)
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of dried dill
A pinch of black pepper
1 egg
1 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oil to around 350 F.

If you are using “hamburger chip” dill pickles drain them and set aside. If you’re slicing them yourself slice and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and stir to mix. Add egg and buttermilk and stir until a thick batter forms. If you need to add a bit more milk don’t worry about it, it all depends on ambient humidity and such. If you need to add a bit more flour add it a tablespoon at a time until it’s thick enough. You want the batter to be slightly thicker than pancake batter. When you insert a pickle into it it should stand up without really falling over.

Dip pickles into the batter and then place them in the fryer in a single layer. Turn them as they cook to ensure that they brown evenly on each side. You want them to be golden brown. Remove from the oil when they are slightly browned (they’ll continue to brown a bit after you remove them from the oil) and drain on a paper towel. Serve alone or with Ranch dressing.

Notes: No notes for this one…It is a stand alone kind of thing!

Homemade Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

Once in a blue moon, and I do mean blue moon, I get the taste for a Pimento Cheese sandwich. When I was a child my Mom would make it occasionally and the kind you make is oh so much more satisfying than the type you buy in your local deli. It’s not something I eat often, but every other year or so I’ll whip up a batch. It’s one of those comfort foods at their finest and it’s simple to make to boot. Easy comfort…What’s not to like?

What You’ll Need:
1 – 8 ounce bar of cheddar or Colby cheese, shredded
2 – 4 ounce jars of pimentos, drained
2-3 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt (Note: Optional. I only add salt depending on the cheese I’m using. Most of the organic varieties are a bit less salty, so taste the mixture and if it needs salt then add it accordingly.)

In a large bowl mix cheese through pepper until incorporated. Taste. If needed add salt. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Pimento Cheese

Notes: This works well on bread as a sandwich topping or you can use celery sticks and scoop up the mixture. You can easily half this recipe as well.

Not Your Mama’s Fried Okra

"Fried" Okra

Fried okra is one of those quintessential Southern foods that automatically makes you think good, not to mention heavy and fat laden, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Growing up in Tennessee it was amazing the many different ways that I had this dish. Some people dipped the okra in batter and then deep fried it, others fried it up in a pan with bacon fat or lard. My mom’s method of cooking was pan fried in melted shortening, but regardless of how it was made and no matter how good it tasted you could bet it was heavy as all get out!

When we moved to Maryland it obviously became harder to find okra as it’s more of a southern crop. I finally found a local farm owned by some older folks who grew it and that is where I picked it up, that was until last summer. Last summer, and I’m not sure why, the local farm closed and I think it’s because the couple became too old to farm the land. They were the sweetest little couple. The gentleman reminded me of my grandfather, but I digress.

Anyway, I could occasionally find okra at Whole Foods and once in a blue moon it would show up at my local Giant store, but it was definitely harder to find. At the Farmer’s Market on Saturday one of the vendors had okra and I was excited to see it as I hadn’t seen it all summer! Over the years my sister and I have slimmed down the “fried” okra and substituted the healthy fat of olive oil, for the heavier unhealthy fats and/or trans fats. You still “fry” it, but you use a lot less frying medium and as I mentioned that medium is healthier too.

Oh and it’s easy to make to boot! That’s always an added plus! If you like okra, then you’ll love this!

What You’ll Need Per Cup of Okra:
Okra, sliced
1/4-1/3 cup of corn meal
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat a large pan over medium heat with a thin layer of olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan).

In a bowl mix corn meal, sea salt and black pepper. Add okra and toss to coat.

Okra Ready to Cook

Add prepared okra to the preheated pan and cook stirring occasionally until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Notes: You can also use this method for zucchini, squash or green tomato slices.

Hobo Dinner

Hobo Dinner

This meal is the epitome of easy, fresh and cheap dining! With all the veggies coming in at the Farmer’s Market and in the garden this is a very easy dish to pull together. It’s perfect for camping cooked right over the camp fire (that’s where we always had it and it reminds me of summers at the lake), grilling or even in the oven. Mix and match what you have on hand and you can have a basic “Hobo” Dinner or even a “Not So Basic” version. What you put in it it completely up to you, but you’ll enjoy it none the less!

What You’ll Need Per Person:
Aluminum foil
Non-stick spray
1 serving of meat (ground beef, chicken, fish, seafood, steak, etc.)
1 small potato (sweet potato, russet, yellow, etc.)
1 small yellow squash
1 small zucchini
2 slices of onion
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Take aluminum foil and foil up sides to make a square “dish”. Spray the foil with non-stick spray and place meat serving in the middle of the the “dish”. (Note: To make this completely vegetarian/vegan you could use mushrooms in place of the meat. Just slice a few button mushrooms and add to the bottom or use a large Portabella mushroom cap.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next layer potatoes over the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a layer of squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Do you see a pattern forming here? ;o)) Next add the zucchini and then a bit more salt and pepper. Top with sliced onions and fold the foil over to form a packet and seal.

Place foil packet on a baking sheet or in a dish and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until meat is done and veggies are tender. Serve immediately by sliding the packet onto a plate. You’ve got everything right there in the packet, ready to go.

Notes: You could easily add other veggies. What ever you like would work. Corn would be nice. Carrots would be good too. Rutabaga, turnip…Well you get the idea! You could also add in other spices or seasoning. Old Bay seasoning would be perfect with shrimp or seafood. Mix it up and make it your own!

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

It would appear I’m on a southern food kick this week! It must be this god awful heat that is making me think of childhood comfort food from Tennessee! 😉 Fried Chicken is the very epitome of what you think about when you think of southern cuisine. Throw in some Buttermilk Biscuits and mashed potatoes and you’ve got southern through and through!

What You’ll Need For the Buttermilk Fried Chicken:
1 chicken, cut into pieces
1 quart of buttermilk
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
3 tablespoons of Vogue Cuisine Instant Vege Base Soup and Seasoning or vegetable bullion powder
Sea salt
Black Pepper
Oil for frying (I like safflower)

You can either buy the whole chicken cut up by your butcher or you can cut it up yourself. Either way, once it’s in pieces wash chicken and pat dry. In a large container with a sealable lid place layer the chicken and cover with the quart of buttermilk. Place container in the fridge and leave it there for at least 24 hours.

When ready to make chicken heat oil to 350 F in a large skillet or stock pot. ( I prefer to use a stock pot…Less splashing and chance for burns!) Preheat oven to 425 F.

While oil is heating mix together flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and Vogue Cuisine Instant vege Base Soup and Seasoning and place in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Then dredge each piece in the flour mixture to cover completely. Place directly into heated oil and cook until each piece is golden brown turning once or twice to ensure all sides are browned.

Fried Buttermilk Chicken Frying

Place fried chicken on a baking sheet that is topped with a cookie wrack or a broil pan with top and bake for 10-12 minutes to make the chicken crisp. Drop heat to warm (about 170 F) and leave chicken in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

Notes: The larger the piece the longer the frying time. It takes roughly 7-10 minutes per side for a large breast piece. A wing takes about 2-3 minutes per side. Watch the color and you want it to just be golden. You also don’t want to completely cover the chicken with oil. You just want it to come up the sides of each piece. 2-3 inches of oil is usually what you’re looking for. Fried Chicken also makes a good picnic food the next day cold.

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread is one of those things that immediately sounds delicious if you’re in to such things. There are many variations of this bread, but my recipe is an adaptation of my mom’s Banana Bread. I’ve even seen recipes that called for chocolate chips! The possibilities are endless, but anyway you slice it (yeah I went there again! ;op) it’s delicious!

What You’ll Need:
2 large zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup of safflower oil or unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat together oil (or apple sauce) and sugar. Stir in eggs and zucchini. Add remaining ingredients and place batter into one prepared loaf pan. Bake for 35-30 minutes or until golden brown and sticks done.

Zucchini Bread