Category: kitchen

Saturday in the kitchen (with Pinterest)

I had a Pinterest kind of day today. Since finally getting sucked into this new social phenomenon a few weeks ago, I’ve been determined not to just pin stuff, but to create or act upon some of my finds. Though today was not the first time, it was seemingly full of ‘pins come to life.’ it started with the ‘coffee bean tea lights.’ I could not find an original source for this cute idea, but since I have these beautiful teacups my friend Wendy brought me from China years ago, and a small portion of beans that haven’t been touched in ages, I had to go for it. To be honest, the aroma didn’t carry. Could be the age of the beans, I guess, but the effect is still lovely, especially with the candlelight shining on a few other ‘pins’ from today. Sharing now~


“My” homemade hamburger buns

These have become sort of my signature recipe, and since we moved south, they’ve been called upon just about any time we gather for a barbecue. They are actually straight out of the Kitchen Aid Mixer recipe book. The only modification I’ve ever made is to increase the recipe to make 18 or 24 buns. This one makes 12:

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter (real butter. Do not compromise here).
3 packages (or 6 3/4 teaspoons) of dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105F – 115F) I use hottest that comes out of my faucet
5 – 6 cups all-purpose flour

In a small saucepan, stir milk, sugar, salt and butter together. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool until lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add lukewarm milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups flour to yeast mixture, and using a dough hook, mix on low speed for about 1 minute. With the mixer still going, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix about 1 1/2 minutes, or until dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all of the flour, especially if you are using wheat flour. Knead on low speed for about 2 more minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic – the dough will still be slightly sticky to the touch.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning it to grease the top. Cover the dough with a clean, dry dish towel, and let it rise in a warm place, free from draft, for about 15 minutes. (they can rise longer).

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 12 equal pieces. The pieces should be round and flattened. Put them on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with the towel. Let rise for another 15 minutes.

Bake at 425ºF for 12 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown. Remove from pans immediately, and cool on wire rack.

Self-frosting Nutella Cupcakes


1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola or mild vegetable oil (I substituted applesauce. Works like a charm!)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 cup Nutella, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed just until combined.

Divide the batter between 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Drop a spoonful of Nutella on top of each, and swirl through the batter with the tip of a bamboo skewer, knife or other pointy object. Bake for 20 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Pop onto wire rack to cool. Makes a dozen cupcakes and very smiley faces.

of note/ I was taking these to our friends’ house, and because their son has a peanut allergy, he steers clear of anything with nuts. So I made half the cupcakes this way. For the other six, I placed one jumbo marshmallow on top of each cupcake, returned to the oven for about 4 minutes, smooshed the marshmallow down with a spatula, and added a few chocolate chips. Poof! S’mores cupcakes! My husband thought the topping was meringue. Only 11 cupcakes made it to our destination…

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes

Easiest thing ever-

Slice however many tomatoes you want.
Spread on a baking sheet.
Cover with a drop of olive oil, a pinch of basil, and a generous covering of Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 325 for 15 minutes.

tastes like Christmas

My Gramma H. used to always buy her Christmas cookies. She wasn’t into baking as I recall, but she always had great treats in the house, particularly Kit Kats, Sara Lee butter pound cake, and tins of Danish cookies.

My favorites were the ‘Stars and Bells’ Christmas cookies. They were soft and covered in red and green sugar, and they tasted best when dipped in a hot cup of tea (with plenty of milk and sugar).

Friday, when we were getting ready to leave for the Carters’ house, I had such a taste for a cup of tea and something baked. I didn’t think I had enough time, so I put a box mix of blueberry-something in the oven to take with us. But while it was baking, I looked for an easy cookie recipe on AllRecipes (if you like the website, you’d love the app!) and found instructions for these:


I didn’t know they would taste like those Stars and Bells, only that they required a handful of ingredients and no chilling or rolling involved. But they did!

I packed up some for Bobby & Sharona (we ate a few over the sink pretty much as soon as we walked in the door). I brought some to Tim & Soma’s the next day. We polished them off by Monday night, so I had to make more. There might be some Burton kids getting care packages this week.

As I was getting the ingredients out, I told Rod: Christmas tastes like butter and sugar. In this perfect Christmas cookie, there is hearth and home, memories of Gramma’s, gift-giving, and sparkly, special Christmastime delight all in one.

Try ’em:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, roll haphazardly into piles of colored sugar, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks. (86 calories each…not bad at all if you can stop at one!)


For the record, they also taste pretty good dunked in white hot chocolate.

What does Christmas taste like to you?

a-b-c recipes

We ended our night yesterday with chili, and we started our morning today with breakfast brought to us by the letter ‘b’baked apples, bacon, and biscuits and gravy. Seems like a good time to share some recipes.

Baked Apples (from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook…my kitchen bible)

1. Core and slice 4 apples. Place in casserole/baking dish.
2. Sprinkle apples with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.
3. Add 1/3 cup apple juice to pan.
4. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes (After about 20 minutes, I punched it up to 450 to bake the biscuits; worked out fine).

Biscuits (from Trisha Yearwood’s Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen)

1. Combine 2 cups of flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, & 1/4 teaspoon salt.
*Most country biscuit recipes call for ‘self-rising flour.’ I don’t buy it because I bake with yeast so much, and of course, you can’t add yeast to self-rising flour. So I make my own/no big deal.
2. Add 1/4 cup shortening and 3/4 cup buttermilk (or regular milk) to the flour.
– you can mix by hand, like our grandmothers and great aunts did/do, then roll it out, press a glass to cut out perfect circle biscuits OR
– throw it together in the mixer (I use my beloved Kitchen Aid) a form them ‘drop’ style by hand. I actually like this version better…the biscuits can be ‘pulled apart’ easily.

3. Bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes. Makes approximately 8 biscuits.



Chili is subjective. I make it several different ways myself, but yesterday, due to time constraints, I made my most simple version ever, and it was also my most enjoyed. The meat can be substituted with ground beef or turkey, but I have to say, this was the bomb! Also, my family doesn’t really enjoy beans in chili, so I leave them out. On the rare occasion I add beans, I use black beans, because I like them better.

1 – 105 ounce can of tomato sauce (absolute best value, but you can buy smaller cans, too)
2 pounds ground venison
4 oz. pork sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped jalepeno peppers (or 1 small fresh pepper, chopped)
~ approximately 1/4 cup chili seasoning (I use McCormick’s in the bottle, and I am totally guessing at this quantity.

Brown the venison and pork together, adding some of the chili seasoning. Drain. Add to the tomato sauce in a large pot or slow cooker. Stir in onion, pepper, and chili seasoning to taste. Cook on high in slow cooker for three hours, low for 6ish hours, or on the stove on medium for 2ish hours. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, additional onion, cilantro, or whatever floats your boat. And take a picture before it’s all gone.. YUM!

We were recently gifted with some venison (deer meat), and although I have eaten it before, I never cooked it before yesterday. The wonderful thing about this meat is how lean it is. It is also, when treated/cured a certain way, so similar to ground turkey or lean beef that I honestly cannot tell the difference. I think one of our new friends has convinced Rod to go deer hunting. Let’s fill up that freezer!

PS: We ended our morning cooking extravaganza with pumpkin!muffins!


pumpkin! muffins!

Honestly, it wasn’t until I married Rod, whose favorite season is autumn, that I really started to care about it. And even then, while I appreciated the beauty of crunchy-colored-fallen leaves and the smell of spicy candles, in Illinois, fall was mostly a reminder that the bitter, cold, looooong winter was coming, or in some years, when we went straight from AC to heat, already upon us.

Like many things, it’s a little different here in South Carolina. Fall means that the beaches and restaurants and Walmarts are less crowded and that we can open our windows. It means that I laugh about once a day when we’re outside with no shoes or I read a little article about making a funny scarecrow and then realize we’d have to use newspaper instead of leaves.

these are the times I realize how much I love it here.

A few of my favorite bloggers (Martha, one of my best friends and Kelle, who will be if we ever meet) are obsessed with fall. Kelle lives in Florida but is a Midwest-to-beach transplant like me, and last week she mentioned having a box of leaves mailed to her house. While I haven’t requested anything like that yet, I did find myself Obsessed with pumpkin muffins upon reading Martha’s FB post about pumpkin-flavored-everything.

I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie or coffee, but I love pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread-like things. As Martha wrote about her pumpkin cream cheese and pudding, I had one thought: Panera Bread’s pumpkin muffies (basically, big muffin top, but the non-embarrassing kind. Well, one probably contributes to the other but that’s another story). With Panera and Martha, sadly, far away from me, i turned to Yahoo, found this recipe, and dreamed about it.


1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix (a standard box of Butter Recipe Yellow was 15 oz)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (I used half of a 28 oz can)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners. I used 36 mini muffins…bite size, 67 cals each
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until smooth. Spoon equal amounts of batter into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean. it took about 18 minutes

Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar, and if your hankering is as strong as mine was, eat a few right there over the kitchen sink, and smile at the influence your friends still have on you from a thousand miles away.