Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Light and Fluffy Dinner Rolls

These dinner rolls are so easy to make you’ll never buy store bought rolls again. They are so soft and light and fluffy and you taste just a hint of sweetness from the added honey. Warning:  You may eat too many buttery rolls and not want dinner!

Light and Fluffy Dinner Rolls
2¾-3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup honey
¼ cup butter
1 egg
2½ teaspoons quick rise yeast
½ cup water
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted (for brushing tops)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Once it reaches that temperature, turn it off.  This will give you a warm place for your dough to rise.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, yeast and salt. Set aside.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the honey, butter, water and milk. Heat in the microwave on high for about 90 seconds until the mixture is hot and the butter is almost melted. Allow the mixture to sit on the counter for about 4-5 minutes to cool slightly.

Stir the milk mixture and the flour mixture together and stir. Add the egg and stir until a soft and sticky dough forms. Place bowl on stand mixer and attach your dough hook.  Put mixer on lowest setting for 4 minutes until you see the dough becomes stretchy and elastic.  

NOTE:  If you do not have a stand mixer with dough hook, simply flour you counter or work surface with a little flour to keep the dough from sticking. Use very little four.  Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 4 minutes until dough becomes elastic.

NOTE:  The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch. After a few minutes of kneading, pinch off  a small piece of dough to test to see if it needs more flour or not. It might leave a little bit of sticky residue on your fingers, but if you can roll it into a small ball without it sticking all over to your hands, it is good to go. If not, gradually add a bit more flour as needed.

Once the dough is the right consistency, cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rest on the counter for 5 minutes. Once the dough has rested, cut it into 12 equal pieces.

Roll the dough into circles and place into a well-buttered 9 x 13 baking pan. Generously butter the tops and sides of each roll with the melted butter and then place a clean kitchen linen towel on top.  Set aside in a warm place to allow dough to rise. I like to use my warm oven that I had previously preheated.

Remove the rolls from the oven once they have risen.  Turn the oven back on to 375 degrees.  

Bake the rolls for 17-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown in color.  Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining butter. Serve immediately.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Pan Fried Country Pork Chops

So, somewhere along the way, we seemed to have gotten away from pan frying. We were convinced that it wasn’t good to fry and so those good old southern recipes got lost in the shuffle of recipes that called for baking and grilling your food.  Well, I think it’s time to bring it back.  Especially when it comes to pork chops. There is nothing more gorgeous than a perfectly seasoned, beautifully browned, moist and tender pork chop.

Now keep in mind not all pork chops are alike. If you truly want a moist chop, it all starts with the right cut.  I only buy the Porterhouse cut when I buy pork chops.  Also known as the bone-in Loin chop, it is the Cadillac of all chops. It includes the loin and a small piece of tenderloin, separated by a T-shaped bone for extra juiciness.

Pan Fried Country Pork Chops

4 bone in pork chops (rib or porterhouse) about ¾ to 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons of bacon fat or use ½ cup peanut oil for frying
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the chops from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature.  Pat pork chops dry with a paper towel to absorb all moisture. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops.

Combine the flour, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.  Lightly dredge each side of the pork chops in the flour mixture, shake off excess flour and set aside on a plate.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet), heat the bacon grease or oil over medium high heat until it starts to sizzle.  Add the butter. When the butter is melted and the butter and oil is hot, fry the pork chops for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. You want the skillet very hot so you get a nice sear on the outside. 

Make sure they are not crowding each other too much. There should be space between the chops in the pan or the meat will steam and not sear properly.  I usually fry two at a time.

Once the chops are beautifully browned, move the skillet to the oven and bake for about 6-8 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 degrees.  Allow the chops to rest about 5 minutes or so before serving.

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Friday, October 04, 2019

Pecan Toffee Caramel Cookies

This is one of those cookies that causes you to close your eyes when you take a bite. Especially warm.  So good!

Pecan Toffee Caramel Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour*
3/4 cup brown Sugar
1/2 cup granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup toffee bits
1 cup caramel squares, cut into fourths
1 cup chopped pecans
Flaked sea salt, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. 

Using a spoon, scoop your flour into your measuring cup so that is doesn’t pack down. Keep it loose or you will have too much flour. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon.

Add melted unsalted butter, and with a handheld mixer mix until crumbly. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. Fold in toffee chips, caramel squares and pecans. Reserve a few toffee chips, caramel squares and pecans to top cookie dough with for a prettier presentation for later.

Roll 2 heaping tablespoons of cookie dough into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet leaving 2 inches per cookie for spreading. 

Bake for 5-7 minutes or until you see the cookie begin to flatten out. Sprinkle flattened cookies with extra toppings. Bake for another 5-7 minutes or until the edges of cookies are set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with flaked sea salt, to taste.

Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Enjoy warm or allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Mom's Country Beef Stew

When it’s only 10 degrees outside and you can hear the wind howling, it’s time to think comfort food. There’s something just so comforting about a big pot of beef stew and a skillet of homemade cornbread or a pan of buttermilk biscuits in the oven.  The house seems cozier, the smell is wonderful and you feel warmer knowing that in a few hours you’ll be sitting down to a big bowl of the best comfort food ever!  I make my stew thick just like my Mom did.  What made her beef stew so incredible?  Her secret was browning the beef in bacon fat which made the velvety gravy flavorful and so delicious.

Mom's Country Beef Stew

3 lbs. boneless beef chuck
4 thick slices Applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 Tbs. canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups beef stock or broth
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon. minced fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 lbs. baby Yukon Gold potatoes

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the beef into 1 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. 

Add the oil to a large Dutch oven or covered pot and fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp and browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. 

Pour the bacon fat into a heatproof bowl. Return 2 tablespoons of the fat to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Brown the beef cubes on all sides until no longer pink.  Do this in batches so you do not crowd the pot. Transfer the beef to a plate. 


Add another 2 Tablespoon of bacon fat to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and let it melt. 

Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually whisk in the beef stock until blended. Add the tomato paste, parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce the oven heat to 325, cover the pot and place in the oven, and cook for 2 hours. 

After two hours, cut unpeeled potatoes into 1-inch cubes or if they are small enough, add them whole.
Stir and recover the pot. Continue cooking until both the meat and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season the stew with salt and pepper.  Enjoy

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