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Posts from ‘August, 2011’

Crepes


Have you ever made crepes? I was inspired to learn to make them after we were served them in a variety of ways in France. The batter is basically a very egg-y and thin pancake batter. It is imperative that you make the batter at least an hour ahead of time and then refrigerate it before trying to cook the crepes, to prevent them from tearing. Some recipes are also formulated for Wondra flour, which is an instant flour often used for gravies. It does not lump as easily as regular flour. The recipe I am posting today calls for regular, all purpose flour. Crepes are extremely versatile and can be used very simply by filling with jam or cheese or in more elaborate presentations. You can find whole cookbooks on crepe cookery which will give you many ideas for shaping and folding them. I have seen them shaped into little cups by placing them on an inverted muffin tin and then baked and filled. They can be filled with a ricotta filling and used as manicotti. They are also great filled with leftover ground ham or chopped chicken and some chopped vegetables such as broccoli and mushrooms moistened with a little cream of chicken soup. Just roll the filled crepes, place in a baking dish and top with the rest of the can of soup diluted with a little milk. Bake in a 350 degree oven to warm them.

Here's the recipe for the crepe batter:

Crepe Batter

3 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups of flour
2 cups plus 2 Tbsps. milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Heat pan and grease pan before the first crepe. (I usually run a stick of margarine or butter over the surface of the pan very quickly just for the first crepe.) Often the first crepe will stick or tear, but they improve as you go along. If your pan is old you may need to re-grease every couple of crepes. I find it helpful to use a small measuring cup to pour the batter into the pan. As you pour, tilt the pan to help spread the batter evenly--or use a neat little tool if you can find someone to make one for you! This recipe makes about 20 crepes.

I carried back a crepe pan from France one time in my suitcase, but you can also use a small curved non-stick skillet with great success.

picture of Crepe Pans

Crepes cook very quickly so be sure to have your area set up efficiently before you begin.

picture of Cooking Crepes

On the streets in France you will see vendors making and selling large sweet crepes. They use a special wooden tool for spreading the crepe batter on the griddle. Rob made me a little tool of my own for crepe making using dowels from the hardware store!

picture of Crepe Stick

Here are some finished crepes:

picture of Finished Crepe

Here is one of my favorite crepe filling ideas:

Cream Cheese Filled Crepes

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. whipped topping
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar
small box instant vanilla pudding

Mix the pudding with milk. Let set a few minutes. Beat cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and whipped topping then combine with the pudding. Spoon into cooled crepes. Roll up and then refrigerate in a covered container (such as Tupperware.) Separate the layers with waxed paper. Top with cherry or blueberry pie filling or chocolate sauce and nuts. These freeze well. Thaw in refrigerator before serving.

Becka


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Spicy Orange Fig Jam


picture of Figs8-11

Before I moved to South Carolina my only exposure to figs had been in Fig Newtons. One of our former neighbors had a large, beautiful fig tree that produced abundantly and she offered us some figs. I tried a few recipes using them, including one for fig jam. The jam was good but called for quite a few figs.

Fast forward a few years. We moved into our present home seven years ago and Rob has worked very hard "taming the land" and beautifying the yard by planting lots of flowers, some trees, and several varieties of berries. A couple of years ago he planted a fig tree. This year was the first year that we got more than a handful of figs from the tree. It is still immature so we were able to harvest a small bowlful every few days. Fortunately I was able to find a delicious way to use them. I found this recipe for Spicy Orange Fig Jam on the Simply Recipes website. It is a great recipe for using just a small amount of fruit and you make the jam in the microwave, so it is quick and easy. I would like to try this technique using other fruits in the future. Since there are just two of us here for most meals small batches of jam are just perfect!

picture of FigTree8-11

If you have time I think you might enjoy checking out the Simply Recipes website. I have tried several of the recipes there and haven't been disappointed. The directions are clear and there's a picture of every recipe.

picture of FigJam8-11

Becka


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Banana Snack Cake


This was Rob's last week at his summer job with IT on campus. He starts in with teacher meetings next week. I've been going to make something for him to take to work for the last couple of weeks and finally made this old favorite:

picture of Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

Banana Snack Cake

1 cup sugar
2 sticks margarine or butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsps. baking soda
1 cup (about 2 medium) mashed bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal (dry)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees and then grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan. In mixing bowl mix sugar, margarine, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Add the soda to the buttermilk and stir to combine and then add this to the creamed mixture along with the bananas. Mix in the flour, salt, and oats. Stir in the chocolate chips and then spread in the baking pan. Top with the nuts if you are using them. Bake for 30-35 mins. Enjoy as is or top with whipped topping or ice cream.

Becka


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Making oats more instant


picture of Instant Oat Ingredients

As my husband can tell you I am not much of a morning person. I don't really feel fully awake and alert until about 10 AM. So, I try to do everything I can ahead of time so there is minimal thinking required in the mornings. Rob eats oatmeal most mornings and I eat it from time to time so recently I started making pre-measured oatmeal packets in small plastic snack bags. I have been making them using instant oats, salt, and dried cranberries. You could use other dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, etc. Rob doesn't like milk on his oatmeal, but if you do you could also put in powdered milk or creamer and then all you would have to add to the mix is water. Here are the proportions I have been using in case you would like to try it:

Oatmeal Packets (these are the amounts per packet)

1/3 cup quick oats
pinch of salt
2 Tbsps. dried cranberries

I just line up several small plastic snack bags and then fill them assembly line style.

picture of Bags of Oatmeal

After the individual bags are filled I place them in a larger ziploc bag for convenient storage in a drawer. We save the empty bags and reuse them.

picture of Oatmeal Storage

To prepare add the packet to 3/4 cup water and then microwave for 1 minute on high. You can also cook this in a saucepan by adding the contents of the packet to the water and bringing it to a boil and then turning off the heat and letting it sit for a few minutes.

This technique will help you ease into the morning a bit more seamlessly if you are not a morning person. ๐Ÿ™‚

Becka


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Peanut Butter Pie


picture of Peanut Butter Pie

My mom used to make this pie years ago and it has become one of our favorites. She first made it with a graham cracker crust but eventually mastered traditional pie crusts and from then on she never looked back. I told about her pie crust saga in this post.

Peanut Butter Pie

1 baked 9" pie shell
1/3 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsps. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten (save egg whites)
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Mix together the peanut butter and powdered sugar until crumbly. Save out about 2 Tbsps. of this mixture and put the rest of it into the cooled pie shell. Set aside.
In a saucepan stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Blend the milk and the egg yolks together and gradually stir into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter and stir until butter melts. Pour the hot mixture onto the peanut butter crumbs in the pie shell. Set aside while you prepare the meringue.
Meringue
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
6 Tbsps. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Beat in sugar 1 Tbsp. at a time until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Blend in vanilla. Spread over hot filling making sure to seal the meringue to the inner edges of the pie crust. Take a spoon and use the back of it to form peaks in the meringue. Sprinkle the remaining peanut butter crumbs on top of the meringue and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 mins. or until nicely browned. Let cool at room temperature and then refrigerate at least two hours before cutting.

Enjoy your delicious pie!

Becka


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