From My Kitchen

Culinary and pastry adventures shared from my kitchen to yours. There is an emphasis on including Gluten Free options in my recipes.

Cookie Dough Brownies for my Valentines

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Valentine's Day Treats

 

 

This is the year of me trying to keep things simple (she says with maniacal laughter).

 

No.  Really.

I’m trying to realize there are simpler ways for me to get things done and I don’t always have to go with my initial, usually dramatic, ideas.

For instance, while I would love to make chocolate double-heart cookies decorated with royal icing to look like candy hearts for the kids’ school parties next week (for those counting … that would be 50 cookies)….. I’ve decided to pare it down and go with something much more simple.

These Valentine themed cookie dough brownies are just the treat!  Last year my friend Misty shared this idea with me and after tinkering with it a little bit I came up with this Valentine version.  Perfect for school … or just for the family.  Never fear, if you have friends/family that are gluten free/dairy free like I do…. I have also included a gluten and dairy free version of the recipe!

Enjoy!

 

Valentine

Valentine

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cream together the butter and sugar.
  • Add the milk, vanilla and flour, mix until combined.
  • Fold in the M & M's.
  • Spread the cookie dough mixture over the cooled brownies and chill until the dough is set.
  • Melt together 1/2c. white chocolate chips and 1 TBSP shortening. Drizzle it over the top of the brownies. (You will want to skip this step or substitute with Enjoy Life chocolate chips if you are making the recipe dairy free)
  • Roll out a small amount of fondant and use a small heart cookie cutter to cut a heart to top off your brownies.
  • Place the fondant heart on top, using a bit of the melted chocolate to secure it.
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Finger Foods: Pizza Puffs

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I don’t know how it is that I manage to forget recipes that are a big hit with the kids.  I used to make these super easy pizza puffs for lunch and the kids couldn’t get enough of them.  Then I stopped for some unknown reason.

I’ve been looking for some easy foods that are also fun and I can stick in SuperBoy’s lunch.  These are perfect!  My kids are suckers for pepperoni pizza so these fit the bill.  Since SuperGirl and SuperBaby vomit violently when they have have some issues with dairy I split the recipe in half and use goat cheese mozzarella in their half.  Since these use such a small amount of flour I’ve also used a gluten free flour mix + guar gum in place of the all purpose flour called for in the recipe with good results.

So here it is… a yummy snack or lunchtime treat that you can mix up in minutes and , by the way, smells simply AMAZING when it is baking.  Would I lie to you?

Pizza Puffs

 Pizza Puffs

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c. Flour
  • 3/4 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3/4c. Milk
  • 1 Egg, Slightly Beaten
  • 1c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1c. Chopped Pepperoni
  • Pizza Sauce for Dipping

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Lightly spray a 24 hole mini muffin pan and set aside.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning and salt.
  • Whisk in milk and egg.
  • Stir in pepperoni and cheese until combined.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Stir batter and fill muffin tins. (I use a small cookie scoop, it's the perfect size.)
  • Bake 20-25 minutes, until puffs are golden brown. Immediately remove from tins and let cool to touch.

Substitute other ingredients like hamburger or Italian sausage with cheddar cheese to keep it interesting. Use what you've got on hand!

To make this a Gluten Free recipe you can substitute 3/4c. Gluten Free Flour Mix for the AP Flour and add 1 Tbsp. Guar Gum.

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Little Things: Homemade Bread

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baking bread, whole wheat bread

 

Growing up, my grandpa made the best homemade bread.  My dad used to wait and wait for the day after Thanksgiving because he held in his mind’s eye the promise of that bread sandwiching leftover turkey and football on the television all day long.

Billy Buckley’s Better Bakery Bread.  That is what my grandpa dubbed it.  It was awesome.

A couple of years ago he introduced me to The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  This book is full of amazing education on the science behind baking bread as well as wonderful recipes for all kinds of bread.

I recently decided I could no longer stomach paying $2 for a loaf of bread at the store …even more if I wanted something more nutritious. Even though I routinely make gluten free bread for SuperDad, I haven’t ever made an honest to God loaf of sandwich bread.   So I cracked open the book.  Upon Grandpa’s recommendation, I’ve been making this light wheat bread for the family and you know what?  They can’t get enough of it.

Much easier than I could have anticipated, I use my Kitchen Aid to knead it and then shape it and toss it in the oven.  The house smells heavenly, the fam gets more nutrition and I save a little money.

A warm steaming loaf of freshly baked bread cooling on the counter is just a little thing, but one I’m rather proud of.

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Santa Fe Cured Pork Roast and a Family Farm. Are You Ready for Some Football?!

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I’m struggling.

In this post I’m supposed to provide you with this great pork roast recipe….information on the Kansas Pork Association’s Ultimate Tailgate  and a summary of the interview I did with Alan Haverkamp… a man who works hard with 4 of his brothers (he was in a family of 11 kids!  I should have interviewed his mother!)…. and I’m supposed to get all of this information in a post short enough to keep your attention span.

Oh, and I want to make this interesting enough for you to read and pay attention to because not only am I getting paid and I have a good work ethic, but I’m completely in awe of the amazing hard work and dedication that this family….and others like them all over the state….put into their farms to make them successful legacies for their families as well as to provide quality food to the rest of the country.

 

So let’s try it this way:

Alan Haverkamp and his brothers Robert, Mark, Neal and Leon run a diversified farming business that covers thousands of acres and includes crop production, feed milling, a cow-calf heard and a sow farm.  They employ over 60 people and work with 30 independent contract farmers.  They have a passion for continuously improving their farm.  There are 3 generations of Haverkamp family members working together on this farm to make it a success.

I find this impressive.  There are very few businesses in this day and age that hold a family that closely together.  Very few people in this day and age keep one job for their entire career, much less keep it in the family.

Alan’s favorite pork recipe is Santa Fe Cured Pork Roast.. I made this for my family and we were very pleased with the results.  Even SuperBaby…who has gotten ridiculously picky in the past several months.

Here is the recipe.  I made this for Sunday dinner along with the Pioneer Woman’s Crash Potatoes, Green Beans, my first ever loaf of homemade french bread and apple crisp for dessert.  Sound good?  Oooooh, it was.

 

Photo Credit Kansas Pork Association

Santa Fe Cured Pork Loin

3-4 pounds boneless pork loin roast (Alan says this is their favorite cut of pork because is lean and flavorful and often priced around $2/lb)
8 c. water
1 c. sugar
6 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. crushed thyme
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp crushed oregano

 

Directions:

In large saucepan, heat all ingredients EXCEPT pork loin to boiling, stirring to dissolve ground spices and mix cure ingredients thoroughly. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place pork loin in glass container large enough to immerse roast in cure solution, cover and refrigerate 2-4 days OR place roast in 2-gallon self-sealing plastic bag and pour cure solution over; seal bag and place in large bowl, refrigerate 2-4 days.

*Hint* One of the best purchases we ever made was a Food Saver food preserving system.  Since SuperDad processes most of the meat we eat, we use it on a regular basis.  It is great for freezing meats, produce and pre-made freezer meals.  One other trick we’ve learned is that when you are marinating a cut of meat, sealing it in a food saver bag, where the extra air is removed from the bag, will help the meat marinate more quickly and be more flavorful. It also makes less of a mess when you are marinating as the bag is completely sealed off.

 

food saver, marinating meat

Remove pork roast from cure, discarding cure solution. Pat pork gently dry with paper towels. Prepare covered grill with banked coals heated to medium-hot. Place roast over drip pan and cook over indirect heat for 60-90 minutes (20 minutes per pound), until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 145 degrees F. Remove roast from heat; let rest 10 minutes. Slice to serve.

Another reason I loved this recipe….on the day you are serving it…it is all but done.  Pull it out of the fridge and throw it on the grill.  This is great for busy families like mine.  Of course, after learning that Alan’s day can start as early as 4am and go until well past dark I’m feeling a little lazy complaining about my work load around here.

We have a smoker that SuperDad likes to cook meat in so we decided to set the pork roast in there to slow cook.  This took the same amount of time and made a nice pink smoke ring around the roast.  Regardless of how you slow cook this roast you will need to get a meat thermometer.  We have a really slick digital one that you can use remotely while your meat is cooking.

pork tenderloin, recipe

Alan and his wife just took their youngest child to college this weekend.  She will be a freshman at K-State.  I bet that she will be at the K-State/KU football game on October 6.  You could be, too,  you know. 

The Kansas Pork Association is giving away the Ultimate Kansas Tailgate that includes over $800 of tailgating madness.  Here’s what the package includes:

  • 4 tickets to the KSU vs KU game in Manhattan
  • Weber Q 300 grill and Weber grill cover
  • 4 fold-able lawn chairs
  • Weber’s “Time to Grill” cookbook
  • Coleman cooler
  • Grilling utensil set, grill handle light, barbecue mitt, basting mop and replacement head, digital probe thermometer, digital pocket thermometer, marinade injector, rib rack, silicone basting brush, and grill cleaning brush
  • 6 different types of rub, 2 types of BBQ sauces, an “I Dig the Pig” apron
  • $50 worth of pork coupons

What pound of flesh do they require for entry into this great giveaway?

Nothing.  You just visit them on Facebook and look for their “Ultimate Kansas Tailgate” to enter to win.  Then you can just sit back, relax and dream about that football game, cooler weather and leaving all of this heat behind you.

Unfortunately, farmers like Alan will be feeling the effects of this drought for a long time to come.  With feed prices so high there are concerns of the market not supporting the prices needed to keep farmers from taking a large loss with their animals this year.  You can read about more Kansas family farms by visiting the blogs of my fellow Kansas City area bloggers:

Kristen at Dine and Dish

Kelly at Kansas City Mamas

Ali at Gimme Some Oven

Amy at Amy’s Finer Things

Amy at Finding the Balance

and Becki at The Rusted Chain

 

Disclaimer:  I received compensation from the Kansas Pork Association for interviewing Alan Haverkamp and posting the enclosed recipe.  All opinions are, as usual, my own.  I would also like to state, for the record, that my family does not take kindly to waiting for their food…therefor I have no decent pictures of my prepared meal.

 

 

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Caramel French Toast Casserole (Gluten Free!)

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I like to do up breakfast around here but with my inability to get out of bed shiny-happy-June Cleave-style our dairy-free/gluten-free family members it can get a little overwhelming. This Gluten-Free Caramel French Toast Casserole can be adapted to encompass everyone in one dish.

Whilst parusing Pinterest, I discovered this casserole at Six Sisters’ Stuff and decided it was one I MUST have.   I’ve made a few adjustments to make it gluten free and dairy free for our family.  This is so quick and super easy and you make it ahead, letting  it set in the fridge overnight making a no fuss breakfast in the morning.  My biggest challenge is getting out of bed to preheat the oven and pop it in before everyone is ready to carve ME up for breakfast…

For the Caramel You Will Need:

  • 1c. Dark Brown Sugar (I’ve made this with light and dark sugar….dark is definately best when you are making a caramel sauce)
  • 1/3c Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Tbsp. Light Corn Syrup or Honey
  • 6 Tbsp. Butter or Margerine
  • Chopped Nuts (I used Pecans)

Melt everything together except nuts in a heavy saucepan stirring constantly.  Do not let this boil (the sugar starts to crystalize and you are going to get actual caramel instead of caramel sauce).  When it is all melted together, toss in the nuts (if you’re feeling nutty) …then pour it in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

For the Bread You Will Need:

  • 1 Loaf of French Bread (I used 1 Loaf of SuperDad’s Favorite Gluten Free Sandwich Bread and it worked fantastically)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 c. Milk, Soy, Rice or Lite Coconut Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt

Beat the eggs, milk, vanilla and salt together in a shallow dish.  Cut your bread into 8 -10 slices around 1/2 – 3/4″ thick each.  Soak…and I mean DRENCH your bread in the egg mixture, use it ALL up. If you have some mixture left in the dish when you are finished …use a basting brush to dab it onto the tops of the bread.  (French Toast Casseroles are known for being soggy and, frankly, a little gross…so I can understand your hesitancy when it comes to this step…but I promise you that this will not be soggy…it is perfection.)  Lay your soaked with eggy goodness bread on top of the caramel sauce, cover it with foil and stick it in the fridge until you are ready for it the next morning.

Preheat your oven to 400°F and pop that casserole in, uncovered.  Bake for roughly 20 minutes, until the tops of the bread start to turn brown.  Pull it out of the oven and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.  THIS IS CRUCIAL. Flip the 9×13″ pan over onto a like-sized platter and serve your ooey-gooey mound of goodness. (If you don’t wait those few minutes when you pull the casserole out of the oven?  When you flip you are going to have a bigger mess…those couple of minutes give the caramel a chance to thicken ever so slightly.)

Our family is lucky enough to have no egg allergies and since SuperDad’s gluten intolerance is just that: an intolerance and not an allergy, we can mix the gluten free bread with regular bread in the same dish…. but I tried it with the gluten free sandwich bread and it was equally delish.  This caramel french toast casserole is polished off in our house each time I make it …and those are some of the quietest breakfasts we’ve had (disclaimer: that isn’t saying much).

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Freezer Jam

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homemade jam, freezer jam, strawberry recipes, strawberry freezer jam

When I stepped into Aldi on Wednesday morning I intended to purchase only fish and frozen fruit…but when I saw strawberries for $0.99/lb I knew I’d be stocking up and making some strawberry freezer jam.

I’m a huge fan of homemade goods.  Before we moved last year we had a very productive garden and I spent a lot of time canning.  As much as I love that home grown goodness all year round…. I do NOT enjoy the anxiety anticipation surrounding a kitchen full of jars, hot liquid and a steaming vat of boiling water thatI will be toiling over for hours.

Not my idea of “fun”, exactly.

Freezer jam is a great alternative for stocking away some homemade goodies without sweating away the day and because it is more successful when made in small batches, you don’t have to break the bank stocking up on fruit…you can make a little OR you can go overboard and make a lot. For strawberry freezer jam you can get about 2 half pints of jam out of one pound of strawberries.

Let’s get started!

Wash, dry and hull (cut out the stem/core) one pound of strawberries.  I like to quarter them as well because you will ultimately end up with smaller pieces in your jam.

 

fresh strawberries

 

Next you are going to smash the strawberries.  I do this in a deep dish pie plate because you want the berries to be in a single layer so that they all smash up evenly.  You can use a fork but I find that a potato masher works the best.  Smash them up until they are nice and juicy but you still have some nice pieces left to give your jam bulk.

 

strawberries

 

Measure 2-3 tablespoons of Ball’s Instant RealFruit Pectin into a small bowl and mix it with 2/3c. white sugar.  Two tablespoons will give you jam with a very thin texture: spreadable but liquid enough that it would be super tasty on say….ice cream…or brownies.  I’m guessing.  I certainly would never dump pour any on top of a giant bowl of ice cream and dive in while everyone else in the house is sleeping… 2 ½ tablespoons should be just about right for a firmer jam that won’t slide off of an ooey gooey peanut butter sandwich after the first bite.

Mix your mashed berries in with the sugar and pectin until it is all combined and juicy.  Let the mixture sit in the bowl for about 3 min before pouring it into your jars.

  • A word about jars:  I’ve used plastic freezer jars and plain old Ball glass canning jars.  Both work well in the freezer and as long as they have smooth, straight sides you shouldn’t have any problem.  The jars can be at room temperature, but you still want to make sure they have been properly washed and dried before you add your jam.

Ladle your jam into the jars leaving at least ½” of head space at the top of the jar.  This leaves room for the liquid to expand when it freezes.  Let the jars sit out for 30 minutes then put the lids on and move them to the fridge or freezer.  In the fridge your jam should last for 2-3 weeks (who are we kidding?  In my house it will NEVER last 2-3 weeks), in the freezer 6 months.

 

homemade jam, freezer jam, strawberry recipes, strawberry freezer jam

See?  Quick and easy!  And because it makes up so quickly, I make my strawberry freezer jam in small batches. Smaller batches seem to firm up  better, when you start making larger batches the jam tends to stay very liquid.  Ball recommends that you not make more than 6 half pint jars in a recipe but I find making one pound of strawberries at a time just works better.

You can use this recipe with lots of other fruits, you may want to adjust the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness or tartness of your fruit.  If you are using peaches, you will want to add about 1 tsp of lemon juice to the mix.

Now you can take advantage of those fresh fruit sales that will be rolling in over the next few weeks and months….and enjoy the fruits of your labor all year long!

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