Monday, February 29, 2016

The General Mills Cereal Challenge

Our current sponsor is an industry giant - General Mills - who challenged us with creating recipes using some of their new-version cereals that have been updated to include absolutely no artificial flavors and no colors from artificial sources.

Each cook received Trix, Golden Grahams and Chocolate Cheerios to work with, and they made both sweet and savory recipes that will tickle your taste buds and amaze you with their creativity. You won't look at cereal boxes the same way again.

General Mills can trace its beginnings back to 1866, when a man named Cadwallader Washburn built his first flour mills on the banks of the Mississippi River. The company eventually revolutionized the milling industry with flour that had superior baking properties.

Today, General Mills is a leader in the cereal industry, making familiar brands like Cheerios, Chex, Lucky Charms, and Wheaties. Even if you're not a breakfast eater - who doesn't love Chex Mix, right?

Want to know more about General Mills? You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Stir-Fried Spiced Cabbage

I love spicy food, and when I saw this old cookbook, I had to have it! The following recipe makes a simple, tasty side dish, that goes with just about everything!

Stir-Fried Spiced Cabbage
by Matt
Adapted from The Hot and Spicy Cookbook by Moira Hodgson

1 pount Chinese cabbage
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. vinegar
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 Tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions chopped, including green part

Slice the cabbage fine. In a bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and cayenne. Heat the oil in a large skillet or a wok. Add garlic and scallions and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Stir in vinegar mixture, heat through and remove from flame. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Notes: I use yellow onions instead of scallions, as I don't always have scallions in the fridge. Also, occasionally I'll chop up a few slices of bacon and sauté them before I sauté the onions.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Just in time for Superbowl Sunday my local store had a sale on avocado and I had a Favorite Cookbook Challenge to complete. Initially I didn't have the two connected. When I decided to participate in the cookbook challenge, I knew Joy of Cooking was the book I was going to pick. It is the first cookbook I ever owned. I was barely a teenager when I found it at a library book sale. This book was as useful a tool in my cooking education as my mother, father and PBS cooking shows...all equally played a part! As I pored through the pages, my issue is copyright 1964...coincidentally the year of my birth, I pored over recipes for croquettes, chiffon cakes, yeasty doughnuts. I couldn't quite decide. In the meantime, I decided to grab a couple of the avocados on sale, lured by the guacamole display. I had the rest of the ingredients already on my table at home...why not try making guac?  I picked up the Joy when I got home...half not expecting to find a recipe for guacamole in the book. I should have known better...I should have remembered why it is one of my favorite books! Of course there was a recipe...written in the format I tend to favor for myself....stages, with ingredients staged throughout the recipe. It was a hit at the Super Bowl party I attended, and I think I've become a fan of avocados...and guacamole!

by Mary
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

In a medium size bowl mix together:
1 peeled, seeded and chopped ripe tomato - I used a Roma
1 finely chopped green onion,
1/2 seeded, chopped green pepper - I used a jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon chili power
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon or lime juice - I used lemon, I had it on hand
1/2 teaspoon coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
Add 2 mashed, ripe avocados just before serving.  Garnish with a sprinkling of green onion tops.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Beef Rogan Josh

I have a lot of favorite cookbooks in my kitchen library, but my newest favorite is Rick Stein’s “India: In Search of the Perfect Curry: Recipes from My Indian Odyssey.”

This book contains beautiful, eye-catching photos of India, the people, and the food; from fresh produce and spices to completed dishes. I’m a visual learner so I found the photography in this book remarkable. Just looking at the pictures transported me to India. I could almost smell the spices in my mind.  But the recipes in this cookbook are the stars. Stein has filled the pages with entertaining stories of his adventures through India finding different styles and flavors of curry. My absolute favorite recipe is on page 258, Lamb Rogan Josh, which Stein explains, “…comes originally from Persia where rogan means ‘oil’ and josh means ‘hot.’” Instead of using lamb I used beef; chuck eye roast to be specific. This curry is absolutely lovely. It has a medium heat that sort of catches you by surprise. And the flavor from the spices unfold as you eat it, warming your soul. This is a great dish for a cold winter night.

The first time I made this curry I chopped and measured all of the ingredients before I started cooking. This recipe has twenty-two ingredients, and twelve of them are spices. That’s a lot of bowls! After going through the cooking instructions I decided it was better to use one bowl for the whole ingredients (except the toasted fennel seeds) and one bowl for the ground ingredients. Also, because Stein uses metric units of measure in his ingredient lists, you’ll have to convert those ingredients to U.S. customary units. I’ve converted the measurements for you in the recipe below. One last top tip! Cook the curry a day or two ahead and let it hang out in the refrigerator. The curry will develop an even warmer, deeper, and richer flavor while it sits in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Beef Rogan Josh
By Maryjo
Adapted from Rick Stein’s Lamb Rogan Josh in “India: In Search of the Perfect Curry: Recipes from My Indian Odyssey.”

1.5 ounces ghee (clarified butter)
2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
3 dried Kashmiri chilies, torn into pieces
6 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised with a mortar and pestle or rolling pin
4 whole cloves
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely crushed
1 1/4-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Kashmiri chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon Garam Masala, plus 1 teaspoon extra to finish
1 teaspoon toasted ground fennel seeds, plus 1/4 teaspoon extra to finish
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/4 pounds boneless beef chuck eye roast, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1 ¼ inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
4 1/2 ounces plain yogurt
1/4 cup heavy cream
Handful of fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, to finish

Toast the fennel seeds in a small frying pan until fragrant (remember to reserved 1/4 teaspoon for the finish). Heat the ghee in a large, heavy bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the whole spices and fry them for about a minute. Add the onion and continue to cook it over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until they are translucent and soft. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for about a minute and then add the ground spices (remember to reserve the extra garam masala for the finish).  Stir for about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, beef, and salt and stir it around to be sure the meat is coated all over with the spice and onion mixture. Pour in the water and bring it to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Once you’re sure the meat is tender and cooked through, take it off heat and add the yogurt, cream, and reserved fennel seeds and garam masala. Serve over steamed basmati rice, with fresh cilantro leave scattered on top.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

De-Lite-Ful Chicken Marsala

My daughter and I found Gina Homolka’s blog, Skinnytaste on Pinterest a few years ago. We loved it and were very excited when she published her first cookbook. I had to buy a copy right away and, of course, I had to buy one for my daughter! I love my daughter’s passion for cooking and she has done a great job getting healthy meals together after long days at the office. I admit that I didn’t do as well when she was growing up. We had a ton of after-school activities and our meals suffered because I never really had a good game plan. I didn’t get into the swing of things until after I retired. 

Gina takes your favorites and makes them quick, easy, and calorie friendly.  From Guiltless Chocolate Chip Pancakes to Thai Coconut Mussels, there is something delicious for all.  Some of my favorites are Buttermilk Oven “Fried” Chicken, Cheesy Cauliflower Mash, and Warm Apple Pear Crumble.

Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken
Warm Apple Pear Crumble

I’m in a cookbook group of 15 people. We each choose a book and then each book rotates to all the members.  Skinnytaste was chosen last year and it was huge hit. Some of the participant's favorites were the Curried Chicken Salad, Mongolian Beef and Broccoli, Bangin’ Good Shrimp, and Chicken Cordon Bleu Meatballs. I think you will enjoy this cookbook as much as they did.

I asked my daughter Katie to join this challenge by cooking her favorite dish. She chose the Chicken Marsala on the Lighter Side and Roasted Sesame Green Beans. I think she did a great job, made this Momma very proud! I hope you enjoy it.

De-Lite-Ful Chicken Marsala
2 large (8 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup + 1/4 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
3 ounces mini portobello mushrooms
1/3 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup 88% fat-free chicken broth
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1.  Begin by preheating your oven to 200°F.   
2.  Slice your chicken breast in two pieces, horizontally.
3.  Take one chicken breast half, place between two pieces of plastic wrap, and gently pound with a meat mallet until it is about 1/4 inches thick.  Repeat with the remaining chicken breast half.
4.   Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breast halves.
5.   Place the 1/4 cup of flour on a plate and lightly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, shake off any excess.
6.   Combine 1/2 Tablespoon of unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil in large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.
7.   When butter has melted, add the chicken breasts to the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
8.   Transfer the chicken breasts to baking dish and place in the oven to stay warm.
9.   Add the remaining butter and olive oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium.
10. Add the garlic and onions. Cook for about 2 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.
11. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes.
12. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon flour over the mushrooms and stir until combined well.
13. Add the wine, the chicken broth, and the parsley, stirring until well incorporated, and sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes.
14. Return the chicken to the skillet, reduce heat to low, and cover skillet. Let simmer for 4-5 minutes. 
15. Place one chicken breast half on each plate. Divide sauce/mushrooms between the plates.  Serve with your favorite side.

As I said above, my daughter served hers with Roasted Sesame Green Beans, also in The Skinnytaste Cookbook. She made one change to that dish. Instead of furikake, she used sesame seeds. 

Delicious, quick and easy! A big thanks to my daughter for participating and cooking a great dish for me.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fettuccine Piccata

I am not really sure where I got this cookbook, but I have loved it for several years.  It is very unpretentious and genuine.  No color photos, over 400 pages of just classic recipes. Those are the kind of cookbooks I like.  I will hunt them out actually.This recipe jumped out at me as I was reading through the book. Yes, I do that.  Really, read a cookbook. It is pretty cool. This recipe is so good and simple as a side dish but you could easily make it into a skillet meal if you desired to.Simply add cooked chicken or even shrimp. You could even add tomatoes or mushrooms.

Fettuccine Piccata
by Traci
Adapted from Whats Cooking America by Linda Standly and Andra Clark
1 16 oz package uncooked fettuccini pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup capers chopped fine (optional)
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup prepared pesto
2 cloves garlic minced fine
1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup small curd Cottage Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan (optional)

Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain and return to the pan to keep warm.
In a medium sauce pan on medium heat add olive oil, capers, wine, pesto and garlic.  Cook  for about two minutes or until you start to smell it.  Add the olives, lemon juice, and cottage cheese. Remove from heat add your pasta and toss to coat evenly.  Salt and pepper to taste. Top with parmesan to garnish.

This is such a versatile recipe that I hope you keep in your back pocket and use it often.

Friday, February 19, 2016

King Ranch Chicken

There are not many things that I have that have been around in my life longer than my wife, Sandra, but this cookbook is one of them. This is without any doubt my favorite cookbook. Unfortunately the cookbook is out of print , but I have been able to find it for friends as a used book by searching the internet.

The recipes in this cookbook reflect the simple but full of flavor dishes of my home state of Texas. The book was published in 1982 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Houston Livestock and Rodeo and was given to me for Christmas that year. We cooked many meals out of this book while raising three children because most of the recipes are simple and relatively quick to make. I have also used it as a guide for making the traditional dishes of Texas such as barbeque, chili and Tex-Mex dishes. The dish I have made many times for our family over the years is a Texas tradition from a huge ranch in South Texas where it was used to feed the ranch hands. It is called King Ranch Chicken, it is simple, quick to prepare and a definite crowd pleaser.

King Ranch Chicken
by Willie Simmons
From the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 50th Anniversary Cookbook

1 Large chicken (about 5 pounds)
12 flour tortillas
10.5 oz. can Cream of Chicken Soup
10.5 oz. can Cream of Mushroom Soup
10 oz. can Rotel Tomatoes
15 oz. jar Jalapeno Cheez Whiz (Really! The recipe is really old!)
8 oz. Longhorn or Colby Cheese shredded
1 Onion, chopped
Additional Jalapenos (optional)
Chicken broth

The goal with the chicken is to end up with about 2 pounds of cooked chicken. This is the most time consuming step so finding a short-cut always put dinner on the table faster for the kids. You can use leftovers for this, buy rotisserie chicken for it (probably 2 chickens), grilled boneless chicken breasts or boil a whole 5 lb. chicken and pull it apart after is has cooled. Reserve the chicken broth for use later.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

The sauce in the recipe gives it the flavor. Like many Texas dishes this one uses jalapeno to spice it up. Our kids grew up on spice and heat and I imagine their kids will as well but you can use regular Cheez Whiz to take some of the heat out. Mix and heat about half of the Colby, the tomatoes, chicken and mushroom soups, the Cheez Whiz and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until everything has blended into a creamy cheese sauce. You can add jalapenos to the sauce for additional spice. You can also replace the Cheez Whiz with American cheese but it is a neat bit of nostalgia in the recipe.

Cut the tortillas into triangles or halves and soak them in the reserved chicken broth. Layer the
bottom of a 9x12 casserole dish with the tortillas triangles, followed by the cooked chicken and then a layer of the cheese sauce. Repeat the layers and top off with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Best-Ever Cheese Soup

It is universally known that I have a cookbook addiction which I have no intention of beating. All 3,000 of them are my favorites at one point or another. In each instance when a new title arrives, I play favorites for a while – I know I shouldn’t but I do. Each title offers inspiration and can open up a whole new world of flavors.  

One book that I have cooked from over the last few years more than others is Amy Thielen’s The New Midwestern Table. I’m originally from the Midwest – near St. Louis – and Amy takes Midwestern fare and gives it a gourmet twist. 

Amy Thielen is a friend of mine who I respect for her kindness and talent. Amy is down-to-earth and an incredible chef. I started a cook through the book group (my first one ever) involving her title. I’ve made dozens of recipes from this book including Breaded Stuffed Pork Chops with Ham and Gruyere, Midwestern Fried Chicken and Gravy, Chicken Pot Pie with Bev's Crust but my favorite is the Best-Ever Beer Cheese Soup. We have eaten it as a soup and I’ve used the soup leftovers to make macaroni and cheese (which was spectacular) and as a cheese sauce for pretzel bite dipping.

On a snowy day here in Colorado, I made the Cheese Soup and it warmed our bones and fed our souls. I will use leftovers for dipping pretzel bites into this weekend.

I hope you will make this incredible recipe and enjoy it as much as we have.

Best-Ever Cheese Soup
By Jenny Blogging at The Cookbook Junkies
Adapted from a recipe by Amy Thielen
The New Midwestern Table

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
1 to 2 carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock, low-sodium store-bought or homemade
One 12-ounce bottle beer, preferably a mild-flavored blond or pale ale
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
12 ounces aged yellow cheddar, grated
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot sauce
¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon of turmeric
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Mustard oil or extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
Fresh goat cheese, for garnish
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about two minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until combined, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, beer and half-and-half, whisking often, cooking at a slow simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. At this point, I use an immersion blender and puree the soup.

After the soup is pureed, add the cheddar by the handful, stirring after each addition until smooth. Add the Worcestershire, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, nutmeg, turmeric, red pepper flakes, mustard and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Once melted and creamy, taste to determine if the seasoning needs adjusting. Serve the soup garnished with a drizzle of mustard or olive oil, a dollop of goat cheese and sprinkle of thyme. I sometimes serve with crostini for dipping. So delicious!

To turn this soup into macaroni and cheese – I follow my basic macaroni and cheese recipe and use this as the cheese sauce – it works perfectly as the soup thickens after refrigeration. If need be, you can also thicken it up with a beurre manié. Just rub enough flour into softened butter to make a thick paste; then whisk little bits of the paste into the soup to thicken to make a consistency to add to cooked pasta.

To reheat leftovers of the soup, you can thin out if necessary with some warmed stock.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Roasted Curry Cauliflower

My favorite cookbook isn’t really a “cook book” at all! The Flavor Bible is actually a culinary guide. For example, I receive coupons to try new and different spices from the nationally known spice purveyor, Penzey’s. I recently received a coupon for their new curry. Since curry isn’t a spice I have experience with, I turned to The Flavor Bible to learn about the flavor profile. Once I understood what I would be working with, my first thought was to select a vegetable that would benefit from the flavor of the curry, but not compete with the unique elements of the spice. In the winter months, I really enjoy roasting vegetables and in this case cauliflower was the perfect choice. The results were amazing! The Flavor Bible should be in everyone’s cooking library. It is the perfect resource for cooks who like to use their imagination in the kitchen!

Roasted Curry Cauliflower
by Susan Ritchie-Hubbard
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (I used “The Now Curry” from Penzey’s)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Put the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to mix completely. Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl. Slowly add the curry mixture, tossing the cauliflower to coat all the florets. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Spread the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes until the florets are fork tender and golden brown. In the meantime, toast the pine nuts in a non stick skillet over medium heat until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the roasted cauliflower and serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


For most of my cooking, I don't use recipes. That doesn't mean I don't read cookbooks - I do! I have a large collection and love to dream over the pages or recipes and photos. Mostly, though, I take the ideas from these books and let them influence what I make in my kitchen.

That's not at all true, though, when I'm trying to learn to produce things that are far outside my cooking experience. I adore Japanese food, and wanted to learn to make it at home. Not the beautiful and precise kaiseki restaurant showpieces, but ordinary family-type food - the sort of book that, if it were a US cookbook, would give advice on grilled cheese, PBJ, scrambled eggs, BLTs, burgers, know the type, right? A book on humble home cooking.

I found it! Japanese Home-Style Cooking by Mihoko Yoshino is presented by the Better Home Association of Japan. It's a splendid little volume with 60 or so recipes. I like to think it's what I might have learned from my grandmother, if she were Japenese: How to cook rice, how to make quick pickles, how to make soup. It's all accessible and clearly explained. There are photos and explanations about unfamiliar ingredients; there are explanations of techniques; there are even special tips on how to make something easier, or how to take a shortcut.

Among its recipes is one that's become an absolute family favorite. Gyudon - short for gyuniku donburi, meaning, literally, beef bowl - is, at its simplest, a bowl of rice topped with glass noodles and thin slices of onion and beef braised in a sweetened soy sauce. This is everyday food of the sort served at home, in family restaurants, or diners - I'd guess it's the Japanese equivalent of a hamburger, in that you'll find it everywhere. It's both fast food and comfort food.

We keep the ingredients handy in the pantry (and freezer, in the case of the sliced beef). The beef topping mixture can be made in the time it takes to cook the rice - I'd guess 20 minutes tops. I've altered the recipe somewhat from this book, in that sometimes I like to add thinly sliced mushrooms.

by Maurita Plouff blogging at Get the Good Stuff!
Serves 4

2 bunches bean threads (also called glass noodles or cellophane noodles)
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin wine
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 onion, thinly sliced in meridians
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 pound beef, sliced paper thin
Red pickled ginger (beni shoga)
4 bowls of cooked rice

Cook the rice: I always use a rice cooker, which makes this even easier. Start the rice first, and then turn to the beef and onions.

Put 2 bunches bean thread in a deep heat-proof bowl, and pour boiling water over them. Cover the
bowl, and let soak at least 10 minutes.

In a saucepan, put the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Bring this to a boil, then add the sliced onion and reduce the heat. Let the onions cook until just barely translucent. Add in the mushrooms, if you’re using them, and let them cook through. Now add the sliced beef, stir, and let simmer until the slices lose their red color. Note: if you're using frozen sliced beef, you don't need to bother thawing it first. Add right to the pot and stir more often.

Drain the bean thread, and add these noodles into the pot. Stir to
combine, and serve over rice. Top each bowl of gyudon with red pickled ginger (beni shoga).

Notes on special ingredients:
Bean thread, glass noodles, cellophane noodles are a transparent noodle made from starch from mung beans, yams, or potato starch. They're sold in dried form, in little nests.

Mirin is a sort of rice wine. It has less alcohol than sake and is sweeter. It's used to add sweetness and a touch of brightness to dishes.

Red pickled ginger (beni shoga) is made from thin strips of ginger, pickled in the vinegar solution from umeboshi. The red color is traditionally derived from red perilla leaves.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Touch-of-Grace Biscuits

This recipe is from Food52 Genius Recipes, and was created by Shirley Corriher. You might know her as the cooking expert who sometimes appeared on Good Eats.

I've cooked a number of recipes from this book, including Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar, Potato Scallion Cakes, Spiced Red Wine, Caesar Salad Dressing, Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Garlic, Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Cooked Forever, and Gratin of Zucchini, Rice & Onions with Cheese, and they've all been winners. This was one of my favorites, though. I've made it three times, each time slightly different. So it behaves well, even if you have to adapt a bit.

I've made some biscuit recipes where the dough was pretty wet. But this dough is much wetter than any of those. The book describes the dough as looking like cottage cheese, and that's exactly what it's like - lumpy bits with a thinner "sauce."

Not only were these biscuits good right after I made them, but they were good the next day, and the day after that. Most biscuits get stale pretty quickly, but these stayed good for a few days - which was all the time it took them to disappear. They were particularly amazing when I heated them for a few seconds in the microwave.

I highly recommend this recipe. And I urge you to NOT be worried about how wet the dough is.

Touch-of-Grace Biscuits
Adapted from Food52 Genius Recipes
Recipe by Shirley Corriher
Adapted by Donna Currie of Cookistry

2 cups (9 ounces) self-rising flour
2 Tablespoons* sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk (or enough for the dough to resemble cottage cheese - you might need more or less, depending on the flour you use.)
1 cup all-purpose flour, for shaping
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing

Heat the oven to 425°F with the right slightly below the center of the oven. Spray an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray. You could also use butter, but I always have that spray on hand because it's always so handy to have.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Work the shortening in with your fingertips until you don't have any large lumps. Don't get carried away.

Gently stir in the cream, then add the buttermilk until the dough resembles cottage cheese - you might need more or less than 1 cup, depending on the flour you use.

Put the all-purpose flour in a plate, shallow bowl, or pie plate. You don't want to use self-rising flour here, or it will be bitter. Use a medium ice cream scoop (about 2 inches in diameter) start portioning the dough and plopping them into the flour. You can make one at a time, or do 2 or 3, as long as you have space to keep them well separated in the flour.

Sprinkle flour on top of the blobs, then flour your hands and grab a blob and gently shape it into a ball, shaking off extra flour as you go. as you finish each biscuit, place it in the prepared pan, scrunched up next to its neighbors. Continue shaping and placing the biscuits until they're all in the pan.

Bake at 425°F until they are lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Brush with the melted butter.

Turn the biscuits out onto a plate, then flip again so they're right-side up on another plate. Cut along the seams to separate the biscuits before serving - they don't really pull apart.

*The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar, but I didn't want them that sweet, so cut back a bit.

What's Your Favorite Cookbook?

People who love to cook tend to have at least one favorite cookbook that they turn to over and over again.

Sometimes it's an old book that mom used, sometimes it's the first cookbook they bought on their own, and sometimes it's simply the most recent cookbook they added to their collection and that they're excited about.

For the fun of it, we asked the cooks here at 37 Cooks to pick a favorite recipe from a favorite book to show it off.

The books range from the new, like Food52 Genius Recipes to the somewhat old, like a cookbook from a livestock show in Houston, to a book that's not actually a cookbook.

Recipes range from classic American to more exotic fare, from spicy to comforting and from easy to more complicated. But the thing they have in common is that our cooks loved them. We think you will, too!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

White Chocolate and Hibiscus Ice Cream

I love making new - and sometimes weird - flavors of ice cream. This time around, I was inspired by hibiscus flowers in syrup. I used the syrup and left the flowers for other uses.

I decided that I wanted something besides hibiscus flavor. I chose white chocolate for its mild flavor, and I added a bit of vanilla for the deepness of flavor it adds.

And ... I decided to make the ice cream eggless, to let the delicate flavors shine through.

The result is a creamy ice cream with a sweet, fruity, floral flavor. The color is a very pale mauve; barely discernible unless you're looking for the color.

For the white chocolate, I used a bar of Lindt white chocolate, which weighed 4.4 ounces. If you buy a different brand that is a little larger or smaller, it's perfectly fine.

White Chocolate and Hibiscus Ice Cream
By Donna Currie, Cookistry

4.4 ounces (a little more or less is fine) white chocolate
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hibiscus syrup (from hibiscus flowers in syrup)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar

Chop the white chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Add the milk. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirred after each heating session, until the chocolate melts completely.

Combine all of the ingredients, including the milk and chocolate mixture in a bowl. Stir until the sugar is completely melted. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the mixture until it is completely chilled. I usually mix it up the day before I want to churn it.

When the mixture is fully chilled, churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze until firm.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Hibiscus Kiwi Pork Medallions

Hibiscus Kiwi Pork Medallions
by Nancy Follwell

1 pork tenderloin
Salt and pepper
3 Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, diced (reserve 1 for a garnish)
1/2 cup kiwi, diced (reserve 1 slice for a garnish)
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon sugar
Slurry: 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons water

Trim pork tenderloin and slice into 1-inch rounds, pound flat to 1/2-inch and season with salt and pepper. In a saucepan, coated with cooking spray, fry pork medallions. Continue cooking the medallions while making the sauce.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the Hibiscus Flowers, kiwi, water, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Cook on high heat till boiling, reduce heat and cook for two minutes longer.
Pour over the pork medallions in the frying pan, picking up the pan juices. Add enough slurry to thicken the sauce.

Place the medallions and the Hibiscus Kiwi sauce onto a nice serving platter and garnish with the kiwi slice and Hibiscus Flower.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sparkling Hibiscus Lemonade

I've been a huge fan of hibiscus flowers long before I actually knew what they were. The first time I tried them, I didn't even know it - they were in tea. Yup, hibiscus flowers show up in a lot of herbal teas, adding red color and a fruity sort of flavor.

The flavor reminds me of a mix of raspberry and lemon - a little sweet, a little fruity, and a little tart.

You can find them in their dried form in Mexican stores, where they're called jamaica (ha-my-ka). Sometimes I see them in the Mexican aisle in my regular grocery store, too.

And now, thanks to The Wild Hibiscus Flower Company, there are hibiscus flowers in syrup. The syrup was my favorite part, but I thought the flowers made a really pretty garnish.

I thought the syrup would be a great addition to lemonade and of course the flowers would be the perfect garnish.

This is an alcohol-free beverage - a mocktail, if you prefer, that would be just as welcome at a cocktail party as it would be at a picnic. Of course, if you wanted to add a touch of vodka to turn it into an actual cocktail, that would be fine, too.

For the sparkling water, I used a soda siphon to make my own, but you could use bottled sparkling water, club soda, tonic water, or even a lemon-lime soda. But if you choose something sweetened, omit the agave - you probably won't need the added sweetness.

Sparkling Hibiscus Lemonade
By Donna Currie, Cookistry

1 Tablespoon hibiscus syrup (from jar of hibiscus flowers in syrup)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons agave syrup
Sparkling water (or soda) to fill glass
1 hibiscus flower for garnish

Combine the hibiscus syrup, lemon juice, and agave in a glass. Fill with sparkling water and stir. Add the hibiscus flower. Serve.

You can, of course, add ice, if you like. But if the sparkling water is cold, you might not need it, depending on how chilled you like your beverages.

The larger your glass, the more diluted your flavors will be, so adjust as you like. And adjust the sweetness, tartness, too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Glazed Hibiscus Lime Mini Muffins

Pretty, springy and light, these little muffins would be a lovely addition to a special breakfast or brunch (think Valentine's Day, Easter or Mother's Day). They would also be wonderful for a springtime bridal or baby shower. The Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup are sweet, delicious and definitely add a fun and different twist to any dish!

Glazed Hibiscus Lime Mini Muffins
by Susan Whempner
Makes approximately 60 mini muffins

For Mini Muffins:
3 Tablespoons syrup from jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons softened butter (unsalted)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 Wild Hibiscus flowers from jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray mini muffin pan with baking spray and set aside.

Whisk together hibiscus syrup and lime juice in small bowl and set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Add oil and sugar and continue to beat on medium until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until completely incorporated.

Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in thirds, alternately with milk. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat mixture just until combined. Add vanilla, chopped hibiscus flowers and hibiscus syrup/lime juice mixture. Beat once more on low until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared mini muffin pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through, until cake tester inserted in center of a mini muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer muffins from pan to a cooling rack and cool completely. Drizzle with Hibiscus Lime Glaze (recipe follows).

Hibiscus Lime Glaze:
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 4-5 limes)
2 Tablespoons Wild Hibiscus syrup

Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add lime juice and whisk until smooth. Stir in lime zest. Use glaze immediately.

For Garnish:
Freshly grated lime zest from about 3 limes
5 Wild Hibiscus flowers, finely minced (press between layers of paper towels first to remove excess syrup before mincing)

Top each glazed mini muffin with a sprinkling of lime zest and a pinch of minced hibiscus flowers.