Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chai Sweet Potato Pie

I've become a big fan of Down Home with the Neelys on the Food Network. This recipe is an adapted version of their sweet potato pie. I decided to add chai instead of the usual spices & I'm so glad I did. It gives the pie a unique flavor - a bit different from the usual sweet potato or pumpkin pie. I used clean hands to mash the sweet potatoes - it allowed me to feel for any lumps or strings that I might have missed with a hand masher.

Chai Sweet Potato Pie
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon powdered chai mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup chai concentrate
1 unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
Bake sweet potatoes for 1 hour. When done, let cool. Peel the pulp out of the skin & place in bowl. Mash until smooth (I used my hands for this).

In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, chai spice and salt. Add evaporated milk and chai concentrate. Stir into sweet potatoes. Beat together with mixer until smooth. Pour mixture in unbaked pie shell.

Bake on bottom rack of oven for 1 hour or until center of pie is firm. Serve warm. Add dollop of whipped cream if desired.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Biscuits & Gravy

You can't grow up in West Virginia & not like biscuits & gravy (I think it's actually a law). It's definitely one of my favorite comfort breakfast foods. It always brings back memories of mama in the kitchen, all of us grandchildren gathered around the table watching while she worked her magic, waiting eagerly for a piece of biscuit dough. And if you were lucky, you got to be the one to carefully cut out the biscuits with a floured glass. When everything was finally ready to serve, we'd all tear piping-hot biscuits into bite-sized pieces & mama would cover our plates with a ladle-full of gravy. Delicious.

Mama definitely spoiled us with this meal. And it's so easy to prepare. There's nothing fancy about it - if you have bacon, flour, buttermilk & evaporated milk, you're ready to go. Give it a try - you won't be disappointed.


Put one pound of bacon on to fry 5 to 10 minutes before you start making your biscuits.

Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup bacon grease

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, stir together flour & buttermilk. Add bacon grease. Stir with a fork until dough holds together.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and form into a disk. Knead lightly just a few times until smooth. Form dough to a 3/4-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or glass dipped in flour, cut out biscuits. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Gather the trimmings and repeat. Bake about 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. This should make 12 biscuits with a little dough left over.

Bacon Gravy
Bacon grease/drippings
1/3 to 1/2 cup flour
Equal parts evaporated milk & water (combined)

Over medium low heat, whisk flour into grease until smooth & just starting to bubble. Reduce heat. Slowly stir in milk/water, whisking constantly, until desired thickness. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes

This recipe was in our newspaper on Wednesday, so I decided to give it a try. The cupcakes are nice & moist & the cream cheese filling sinks to the bottom, appearing almost like a cream cheese crust. The recipe called for a chocolate cream cheese frosting, but I thought that might be a bit too much for these already rich tasting cupcakes, so I just put a few chocolate chips on each one while they were still warm to give them a chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes
1 box devil's food cake mix
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 cup miniature chocolate chips

Prepare cake mix as package directs, placing batter in cupcake paper-lined muffin pans. In small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth; beat in egg, fold in chocolate chips. Drop 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture into the center of cupcakes. Bake at 350 18-22 minutes or until cupcakes are baked through. The cupcakes will come up over the cream cheese filling to cover. Cool & frost.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Baby Back Ribs

Nothing says summer like grilling out. There is something so laid back & relaxing about cooking outdoors. We had some guests over for this meal Friday evening & everyone really enjoyed themselves. These ribs were definitely the star of the show.

Oh, you might have noticed the "My Grill Friday" logo at the top of this post. I'm participating in a Friday grilling event that Rachel is hosting over at Coconut & Lime. Look for more grilling recipes here every Friday.

1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons paprika
3 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 pounds baby back ribs*

*Our butcher cut the ribs for us*

Combine all ingredients for dry rub. Rub all over ribs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Place ribs on grill for 40 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally until meat is tender and crisp on the outside.

Coming This Friday - Grilled Flatbread Pizzas

Coconut Macadamia Biscotti with Key Lime Glaze

I wanted to come up with an original recipe for the contest that Rachel is hosting over at Coconut & Lime. The idea for this recipe came to me while standing in line at Starbucks, waiting for my coffee. The biscotti container caught my eye & I thought "why not do a coconut lime biscotti?" So that's what I did. I had never made biscotti before & am not sure why - it's so easy.

The biscott itself is full of coconut & macadamia nuts & I used two different glazes - a basic key lime glaze & a white chocolate key lime glaze. This is the perfect summer biscotti to go along with your morning cup of tea or coffee.

Coconut Macadamia Biscotti with a Key Lime Glaze
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut, lightly toasted
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Stir in the coconut extract and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, stir into the creamed mixture. Fold in the coconut and macadamia nuts.
Divide dough into 2 pieces. Roll each piece out into a log about 10 inches long. Place them on an unprepared cookie sheet and flatten them until they are about 3 inches wide.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Cool on baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes.
Slice the logs crosswise into 1/2 inch wide slices (I sliced one log the opposite way to have some smaller slices). Place slices cut side down onto the baking sheet.
Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes, until crisp and light brown. Turn oven off & leave biscotti in until dry & toasty to the touch (about an hour for me). Dip tops into Key Lime glaze. Set on wax paper until glaze is set. Store in an airtight container.

Key Lime Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh Key lime juice (about 2 limes)

Key Lime Wite Chocolate Glaze*
4 oz melted white Chocolate (I use Ghiradelli)
1 teaspoon key lime juice

*Note: If using the white chocolate glaze, you have to work quickly as the chocolate will turn grainy. It's best to use a spoon or knife to spread a thin coat onto each piece.