Friday, January 29, 2010

Biscuits and Gravy

The ultimate comfort breakfast! I made this a few weeks ago, along with Buttermilk Biscuits.

This was excellent- the only change we made to it was to double the gravy, adding more grease to the pan along with the gravy ingredients.

Sausage Biscuits and Gravy
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1 lb breakfast sausage
1 batch biscuits
¼ T. flour
2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sausage in a medium skillet, then remove the sausage and place on a plate and cover.

Add the flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, with the sausage grease in the skillet and whisk constantly. Add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed until the mixture is smooth. Continue to whisk the flour/grease until it is slightly browned.

Whisk in the milk and heat on low until thickened, scraping the bottom of the pan while it cooks. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the gravy is warm, spoon over biscuits and serve.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Monday, January 25, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

A few weeks ago, we woke up on a Saturday morning and I asked Brian and Rebecca what they wanted for breakfast. Rebecca wanted sausage (she's such a little carnivore) and Brian didn't have a prefrence, so I started flipping through cookbooks and came across a recipe for biscuits and gravy.

I'd been craving biscuits and gravy all through pregnancy with Madeline, and she's now 7 months old and we're just now getting around to making them. I don't know what took me so long, but it was so worth the wait. Such comfort food.

However, the recipe I used called for canned biscuits. Which would work fine, but it was Saturday morning and we had all day with no plans (this NEVER happens around here). So, I went to work looking for the perfect biscuit recipe. I found one very easily and set to work in making them (with Rebecca's help!).

They were so simple and delicious, not to mention the perfect vehicle for truck loads of sausage gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits
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4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1 ¼ cup buttermilk

Pre-heat the oven to 450°.

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add in the shortening and butter and, using a pastry blender, cut together until the mixture is well combined and looks like fine crumbs.

Pour the buttermilk into the bowl and blend gently until just combined. The mixture will be lumpy and sticky.

Lightly flour your work surface, then turn the dough out and start rolling until about 1/3-  ¾ inches thick.

Using a biscuit cutter- I used a juice glass :) - cut out the biscuits and place them on a baking sheet.

Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond, pages 44-45

Monday, January 18, 2010

Black bean tacos

In one of those frustrating Mother Hubbard moments, where there seems to be nothing to eat in the house, I threw together this haphazardly and wound up with one of our new favorite meals.

These tacos are veggie-friendly but tasty enough for even the most dedicated omnivore

Black Bean Tacos
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1 lb pre-soaked black beans, cooked and drained (or dried beans, soaked)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp chili
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp oregano
3 drops tobasco/hot sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 C water
sour cream
cheddar jack cheese

Soak and cook the beans package directions. Drain.

Chop the onion and garlic and sauté with the olive oil in a medium skillet until softened. Add in the beans, seasonings and water. Simmer until liquid is reduced.

Serve on tortillas with lettuce or spinach and taco fixings.

Source: A Laura's Recipe Collection original

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I think Rebecca (my 3 year old) thinks I've been holding out on her. Every time I make chocolate chip cookies Brian snags a bite (ok 12 bites) of cookie dough before they go in the oven. I never let her have any (raw egg. 3 year old. paranoid mommy.) So when I brought out this ice cream a few nights ago and gave her some she seemed to think that it was the best thing since, well... cookie dough!

There we were, eating our ice cream when I look over and see Rebecca, head tipped all the way back with the bowl completely upended over her mouth. Heaven forbid she leave behind that last teeny, tiny drop of cookie dough goodness.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
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5 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
¾ cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 quart freshly churned ice cream (I used vanilla this time)

Mix together the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Combine with the flour, then add in the vanilla, nuts and chocolate chips.

Flatten the dough to about ½ inch thick and wrap in plastic. Place in the refrigerator until firm.

Unwrap and chop the dough into pieces, then either freezer until ready to use or fold gently into ice cream after churning but before freezing.

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, page 209

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream
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1 cup whole milk
¾ cups sugar
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean
6 large egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and the salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk mixture and stir in the vanilla bean as well.

Remove the pan from the heat and cover then let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Pour the other cup of cream into a bowl and cover the bowl with a mesh strainer.

In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks. Pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, then scrape the mixture back into the pan.  Turn the heat back up to  medium and stir often until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.

Pour the mixture through the strainer and into the cream. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove the vanilla bean.

Chill over an ice bath, stirring until cool. Chill completely in the fridge, then churn in ice cream maker according to product directions.

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, page 24

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Penne Ala Betsy

When I received the Pioneer Woman cookbook on Christmas Day, I turned to Brian and threatened to go all Julie & Julia on him and make every single recipe in the PW cookbook within a month. He laughed and shook his head as if to say "Silly Laura, of course you won't". Then, that weekend I made 5 different recipes from the cookbook. Silly Brian. You betcha I will!

This, of course, was wonderful. I left out the shrimp since I a) don't like shrimp and b) didn't have any.

Pioneer Woman's Penne Ala Betsy
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¾ pounds Penne Pasta
1 pound Shrimp
3 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 small onion
2 cloves Garlic
½ cups White Wine (or To Taste)
1 can Tomato Sauce (8 Oz)
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, or to taste
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil -  or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Peel, devein and rinse the shrimp under cool water. Melt 1 Tbls butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Cook the shrimp in the butter until opaque, then remove from the heat, let cool a bit, then remove the tails. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic, then sauté in the pan with another 2 Tablespoons butter and 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Saute until the onion is tender.

Pour in the wine, stirring for a minute or two, then add in the tomato sauce and stir until well mixed. Pour in the heavy cream and simmer.

Chop the herbs and add into the pan, stirring together. Add in the salt and pepper, then mix in the shrimp. Add the pasta into the sauce and combine.

Source: The Pioneer Woman cookbook, also found on

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

While flipping through a few new cookbooks I received as Christmas gifts I came across this recipe for roasted potatoes and thought they'd go perfectly with that night's dinner, T-bone steaks with red wine reduction. These were so good, they easily rivaled the t-bones for center stage of the dinner.

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes
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2 ½ pounds small red potatoes
2 yellow onions
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons whole-grain mustard
kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Slice the potato into quarters and set them aside.

Dice the onion and combine with the potatoes. In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, mustard, kosher salt and pepper. Toss the potato and onion with the mustard mixture, then spread out evenly on a cookie sheet.

Roast the potatoes for about 50 minutes,tossing midway through, until they are lightly browned and soft in the center.

Remove from the oven and toss with the parsley and sprinkle with a bit of additional salt. Serve warm.

Source: Barefoot Contessa At Home by Ina Garten, page 153

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pan-Seared T-bone Steaks with Red Wine Reduction

A few months ago Brian and I got an eighth of a cow and we're now down to the last of the last of the meat in the freezer. I asked Brian to grab something out of the freezer for me to make for dinner last weekend and he brought up a pack of t-bones. Having never made them before, never really cooked steak before (other than venison which Brian usually handles) I was a bit nervous. I had no reason to be! I couldn't believe how simple these were to put together and they were really one of the best things I've ever tasted in my whole life. They were a great way to start off the new year.

Pan-Seared T-bone Steaks with Red Wine Reduction
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4 T-bone steaks
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for searing meat in the pan
2 teaspoons minced shallots
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
¾ cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus 4 sprigs for garnishing plates
1 ½ cups beef stock
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
¾ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 450°

Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan and once heated, saute the shallots and garlic. Add the wine to the pan to deglaze and mix in the rosemary. Simmer the wine until it's nearly evaporated, then add in the stock, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat to keep warm while cooking the steaks.

Pour a Tablespoon or two of oil into a large oven-proof skillet. Blot the steaks dry on both sides, then salt liberally with kosher salt and pepper.

Once the oil has started to smoke add the meat and sear for about 4 minutes, flip and sear the other side for about 4 more minutes or until browned.  Place the skillet into the oven and roast until internal temperature reaches 120° for medium-rare, about 6-8 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Food Network

Monday, January 4, 2010

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

We've decided around our house that we need to start eating more vegetables. We have so few meat-free dinners, and veggie-centric dinners that we make on a regular basis and I decided to finally start to remedy that. I've never tried eggplant before but I've been curious for a while now. Finally at the store a few days ago I just grabbed one and put it in my cart. I got it home and sat in on the counter, then stared at it for a while. What the heck do I do with this thing?

Finally, I decided to ease myself into this. What's the most well-known eggplant dish? Eggplant parm, of course! I have close to a dozen eggplant parm recipes saved but so many of them involve frying the eggplant. That kind of defeats the purpose of eating veggie-centric meals, don't you think? So I decided to bread it using the method I prefer for several meat-based dishes and just went to town making it on my own.

When it came to the sauce, I decided to give Newman's Own Sockarooni pasta sauce a try. I'd been sent this a few weeks ago through Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program to sample. I wasn't sure how the eggplant would pair with the peppers in the pasta sauce, but it turns out that I LOVED it! Should I ever make this dish again using a homemade sauce I'll probably add peppers to the sauce. It think it really helped give it some interesting depth versus plain old boring marinara dish.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
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1 medium eggplant (I used a whole large one and it made a TON more than I needed to serve the 3 of us with leftovers)
kosher salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tsp. water
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup plain bread crumbs
2 tsp. oregano
2 cups marinara sauce
mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Slice the eggplant into ¼ inch thick circles. Sprinkle one side with kosher salt and lay them on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes. Blot the water that rises off the eggplant, flip, re-salt and let sit another 15 minutes. Blot away excess water again. This keeps the eggplant from getting too soggy.

Place the flour in a small bowl. In a second bowl mix the eggs with water and beat together. Using a third bowl mix both kinds of breadcrumbs with the oregano.

Dredge each piece of eggplant into the flour, shake off the excess, dredge in the egg, then coat in the breadcrumbs. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Once all the slices are done, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, flip them over and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the edges are getting crispy.

Remove the eggplant from the cookie sheet and arrange in the bottom of a 13x9 glass pan. Top with marinara and cheeses and place back in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Source: Original Laura recipe

Sunday, January 3, 2010


My snickerdoodles are kind of famous within my family. Or is it infamous?

When I was about 14, I'd say, I made a batch of snickerdoodles using my mom's recipe. It's one of the first clear memories I have of baking something completely by myself (although I'm sure I had done it before). It went off without a hitch, or so I thought.

I made the cookies, baked them until they were perfectly golden and beautiful. Then we all grabbed one to taste. Oh sweet fancy Moses, what the heck was wrong with these cookies?!

I went through the recipe again to see what I'd done- chili powder. Turns out, did you know that McCormick's chili powder and McCormick's cinnamon looked very much the same back in the day?

I've shied away from making Snickerdoodles since, sparing a few times with my mom when Brian and I were first dating (he LOVED snickerdoodles). He's never once asked me to make them myself though. When I announced this weekend that I was trying a snickerdoodle recipe Brian visibly blanched and protested. "No! No I don't want snickerdoodles. Make something else. Make... make your chocolate chip cookies!" He wasn't even around for the Chili-doodle incident and he fears them.

Thankfully these came off perfectly, exactly what I was looking for. I'll be making them again and again, as soon as I move the chili powder.

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Makes about 18 cookies

2 ¾ C all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. coarse salt
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ C plus 2 T sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. cinnamon


Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Line 2 cookie sheet s with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the eggs.

Slowly add the flour mixture in with the mixer on low speed.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Scoop the cookie dough into 1 ¾-inch balls and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar. Place dough balls about 3 inches apart on the cookie sheets as they'll spread a bit during baking.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating half-way through, until the cookies are golden browned. Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Source: Martha Stewart's Cookies , pg. 82