Category Archives: Breakfast

Restaurant-Style Bloody Mary

How to make a Restaurant Style Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary.  It is THE quintessential brunch beverage, yet I only have them at a restaurant.  Brunch and Bloody Mary’s go hand in hand.  We are going to make a restaurant-style bloody mary at home.  I made a killer batch of bloody mary’s last weekend and they were hands-down one of the best I’ve ever had.

First things first, we are making it from scratch.  The difference is remarkable when you don’t use a store-bought mix.  The drink tastes MUCH fresher and brighter, which if I’m being perfectly honest, can be dangerous.  I’m usually a two drink max kind of girl and I had two drinks in no time flat.  Consider yourself warned, because they go down Very Easily.

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Roasted Red Flannel Hash with Country Sausage

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This week, we have a very special guest post!  You all know her as Pastry Chef Online, but she is my “Sissy”.  She is like family to me. If I could choose a sister, it would be her.  We met years ago and it was an instant kinship.  She is a talented pastry chef, a great friend and a generous, kind and compassionate person.  I am lucky to call her friend and we are all lucky that she has made us Red Flannel Hash with Country Sausage!  

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Picadillo (Cuban-Style Hash)

PicadilloPicadillo is Spanish for “hash” (or “mince”).  Essentially, this is a Cuban version of the good old American mélange, eaten on its own or used as a filling for empanadas. Spanish influences, specifically Andalusian, are obvious due to the addition of olives and raisins. Picadillo is often served topped with hard-cooked or fried eggs and is usually accompanied by fried plantains.

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Where are my fellow chile heads?!  
Although I love peppers, I’m not one of those crazy people that shoves whole habaneros in her mouth… funny story about that, actually.  
The year was 1993 and I was living in Guadalajara, México.  I was a student at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara and a group of us were out strolling the Mercado Libertad, which is a huge multi-level market.  It houses everything from food to shoes to flowers.  Here we are, a bunch of 20 year old kids walking around with eyes popping out of our heads.  This was the first time most of us had been on our own in a foreign country.  We happened upon this vendor of chiles.  You know where this is going, don’t you?!  A girl in our group stated that she could handle really spicy food and was going to buy a few peppers.   We tried (in vain) to warn her that these were seriously hot and she shouldn’t pop the entire thing into her mouth.  Let’s just that the afternoon took a turn… to the Emergency Room!   I guess I shouldn’t have said a “funny” story,  just “a story”.

I’m not one to eat a whole habanero, but I do enjoy a little heat.  The kind that makes your lips and tongue tingle, not the kind that feels like someone lit a match on them.   I seem to have a higher tolerance for heat than some, which means that I may not be the best person to ask if something is spicy. We burn through jars and jars of chile paste like it’s going out of style (I assure you, it is NOT). Most of the spicy food we eat happens to be Asian.  Bowls of noodles in fiery broth are my happy place.  Food from Latin America is a close second and for good reason: I’m married to a Texan, I used to live in Mexico and we currently live in Florida.  I chose this particular recipe to share because I love picadillo.  I know, I’m totally selfish.  I make big batches of this delicious filling to make empanadas.  The saltiness of the olives with the sweetness of the raisins is really good.

My very favorite thing about this book is its inclusion of food from around the globe.  I love exploring cultures through food and this book is a peek into how chile peppers really are a global ingredient.  It’s fun to try new recipes and flavors, especially when the recipes are so varied and enticing!  

Below is a short list of some of the 250 recipes you’ll find in this book.  I have my eye on the Spinach and Tomato Dal next…  What would be your first choice?
– Middle Eastern Walnut Dip (Middle East)
– Castilian Garlic Soup (Spain)
– Chinese Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup  (China)
– Paella (Spain)- Tagine of Chicken with Apricots (N. Africa)
– Cuban style hash (Cuba)
– Original San Antonio Chili (US)
– Indonesian-Style Fried Rice (SE Asia)
– Cape Verde Sausage Stew (Africa)
– Spinach and Tomato Dal (Indian)
– Calabrese-Style Fried Potatoes with Peppers (Italian)
– Thai-Style Grilled Chile Salsa (Thai/SE Asia)
– Kimchi (Korea)
– Mexican-Style Tomato Juice – (Mexico)
– Chile-Spiked Chocolate Pots – (French)

Picadillo (Cuban-Style Hash)
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 onion, chopped
  2. 1 each - red and green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  3. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1⁄2 habanero pepper, minced
  5. 4  cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 1⁄4 lbs lean ground beef
  7. 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  8. 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  9. 1 piece (2 inches/5 cm long) cinnamon stick
  10. 1⁄4 cup  dry sherry
  11. 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes, with juice
  12. 1⁄2 cup dark raisins
  13. 12 large pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  14. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For Garnish
  1. 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  2. Finely chopped fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. In skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, red and green bell peppers, habanero pepper and garlic and stir well. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add oregano, cumin and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sherry and cook, stirring, until almost all of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and juice, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in raisins, olives, and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until olives are heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Transfer to a large deep serving platter. Sprinkle chopped eggs over top. Garnish with parsley. Serve hot.
Notes
  1. Gluten-Free Friendly!
Tips
  1. You can substitute Cubanelle peppers for the red and green bell peppers if you like.
  2. I have used a habanero here because these peppers are common throughout the Caribbean, and I like the slightly fruity flavor they impart to this dish. However, it may be more common to find picadillo made with jalapeño peppers, even though purists suggest that jalapeños are not used in Cuban cooking. Both chiles do a fine job of bringing heat to this dish, so use whatever is easiest or suits your taste. If you’re using jalapeños, you’ll need 1 to 2.
  3. Instead of garnishing the entire dish with chopped eggs, transfer individual servings to warm soup plates or deep bowls and top each with a fried egg. Garnish liberally with parsley.
Adapted from The Chile Pepper Bible
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
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Chile Pepper Bible

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This recipe has been reprinted courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between by Judith Finlayson © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold. I received one copy compliments of the publisher. No other compensation was received. Links to the book are affiliate links. 

If you’d like a chance to win a copy The Chile Pepper Bible of your own, make sure to enter the giveaway below!  Thanks to the publishers Robert Rose for providing a copy for the giveaway. It is open to US and Canadian residents!

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Baked Eggs in Mini Bell Pepper Cups

baked-eggs-pepper-cupsI had bell peppers on my list.  Not these sweet little things, but the grown up kind. When I laid eyes on these, somehow the big guys lost their appeal.   I’m a sucker for cute little things.

As soon as I got them home, I started thinking about what I could do with them.  The obvious was mini stuffed peppers or filling them with dip and sticking a few veggies in them.   Then I went a completely different direction…  I love the idea of these for a brunch.   With the holidays right around the corner, these would be a perfect bite for Christmas morning or the day after Thanksgiving when any major cooking is off the table.  The evening before, slice the lids from your peppers and wrap them up for the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, crack an egg into each pepper and slide into the oven.  How’s that for easy and minimal cleanup?!

These are also perfectly portable, just toss a couple in a container and off to work or school you go! I’d much rather eat this than a dry granola bar.  Looking for a light meatless supper?  It’s got you covered there too!  They are also a good size for little hands, no silverware necessary.  

baked eggs - Pook's PantryBack to brunch: I love the idea of a platter filled with a dozen of these, with different spices or seasonings, on a bountiful table for everyone to help themselves.  (READ: I’m not waiting on you!)

Small servings work especially well for someone like me who is perfectly content to make a meal of several appetizers.  I like to taste a few different things instead of having one entree!  This allows me to have one baked egg and also a few other treats, which is really my goal in life…  to try everything I can get my hands on.baked-eggs-in-mini-bell-pepper-cups
Be creative!  Try different combinations, different herbs, etc.  Scallions, tarragon, chives and dill are great herbs for eggs.  Curry powder, hot sauce,  HP sauce (from UK) and of course hollandaise, if you’re feeling fancy, are delicious on eggs.  Another option is putting a little cheese or bacon in the bottom of the cup, or whisking it all together and making an omelet baked in the pepper cup.  Whatever your favorite egg combination, make it delicious!Baked Eggs - Pooks Pantry

Baked Eggs in Mini Bell Pepper Cups
Yields 4
Individual Baked Eggs in Mini Bell Pepper Cups
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
23 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
23 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 Mini Bell Peppers
  2. 4 Medium Eggs
  3. seasonings of your choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice top off pepper and set aside. Remove seeds and membrane from pepper. Crack 1 medium egg each into mini bell pepper.
  2. Set on a baking sheet or in a glass baking dish and bake for 16 - 18 minutes, until whites are set, but yolks are still a bit runny.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, curry powder, herbs, hot sauce, etc. Whatever tickles your fancy!
Notes
  1. Small or medium eggs work best in mini bell pepper cups. Large eggs will overflow!
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
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Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake

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Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

I love my “swirly” bundt pan, but it’s a tad smaller than the average bundt and I always have leftover batter.  This may not seem like an issue, but sometimes I don’t want to make extra cupcakes or little cakes.  I just want One Big Bundt!  So, after dropping a few subtle hints and finally telling my Mom that I was planning a heist and the prize was her Classic Bundt pan… Voila!  She told me that one was on it’s way to me!  Thanks, Mom!  (sometimes, a girl needs to resort to extreme measures) Continue reading

Potato Dill Biscuits

Potato Dill Biscuits

Remember a few months ago when I went to a food conference and was assigned as brand ambassador for Idaho Potatoes?  They asked me to come up with a recipe using dehydrated potatoes and after bouncing around a few ideas, we settled on this biscuit.   Biscuits

When I was in the “testing phase” of this recipe, The Girl asked me why would I use dehydrated potato instead of leftover homemade mashed potato.  She had a good question and I figured if she was wondering that, someone else would be too.  Here’s the answer:
Other than Thanksgiving (when all of us make extra on purpose), when do you have extra mashed potato hanging around?  Not very often, I’m guessing.  Also, I don’t want to wait for the occasion to have them just to make these biscuits and furthermore, I don’t want to make them just to wait for them to get cold so I can make biscuits out of them.   All that being said, the biggest reason for using the dehydrated potato instead of leftover mashed:  THEY WORK BETTER!  I kid you not,  the biscuits are amazing.
If you’ve had potato bread or rolls, you know that sweet smell and soft, fluffy texture that can only be found by using potato. It works in breads, so it stands to reason that it would be great in a biscuit as well. And it is.

I wanted to flavor these biscuits with some kind of herb and dill was my first choice.  If you aren’t a fan of dill, swap it out for rosemary, thyme or whatever herbs you prefer.Potato Dill Drop Biscuits PP
The texture of the potato biscuit is fluffy and tender. The crust is beautifully golden and when you break them open, they smell of sweet, buttery mashed potato. You can’t beat that.

Potatoes do not have gluten (the protein that gives bread its chewy texture), so these biscuits remain tender and moist.  They are a smidge denser than regular biscuits, but are by no means heavy.  They are my new “go-to” biscuit.  They are easy as can be, because it is a simple drop biscuit, which means no rolling out and cutting dough.  I’ve made a rather big batch and froze about half of them to use in another recipe that will be coming soon!  I’ll give you a hint: breakfast.
I’m already planning ahead for the holiday season and these potato dill biscuits will be on our table this year. I can already imagine stuffing them with turkey for a little afternoon snack…
Potato Dill Biscuits PP
Thank you again, to Idaho Potato® for sponsoring this post! They are wonderful to work with and it allows me to share tasty recipes with you!

Potato Dill Biscuits
Yields 8
A simple and delicious drop biscuit.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1- 3.4 oz. package Honest Earth® buttery home-style dehydrated potatoes
  2. 7 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 ½ cups)
  3. 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
  4. 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  5. ½ teaspoon white pepper
  6. 2 large eggs + 1 yolk
  7. ½ cup light cream + 2 tablespoons for brushing on top
  8. 1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
  9. 1 tablespoon dill
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl: combine cream, eggs and yolk. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment: Combine flour and diced butter and let mixer run until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add dehydrated potatoes, baking powder, dill, salt and pepper.
  4. Mix for a few seconds until it is combined.
  5. Pour cream mixture into bowl of mixer and mix until just combined, do not overmix.
  6. Remove bowl from mixer and with a rubber spatula, fold dough from bottom of bowl to the top to make sure all of the flour mixture has been incorporated.
  7. Using a 3-ounce scoop, portion 8 biscuits onto the sheet pan. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired.
  8. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, cool on pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
Here are a few affiliate links to items used (and loved!) in this recipe.   Your price doesn’t change, but I get a few pennies if you purchase through the links below.

Sheet Pans
Parchment Paper
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Potato Dill Biscuits - Pook's Pantry

Can All The Things!

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I met Rebecca Lindamood a few years ago at a food blog conference in Orlando.  One day, we were talking about trading goods with each other (local food for local food).  A few weeks later, much to my delight, a quart of Grape Pie Filling (p.31) shows up on my doorstep.  I had never tasted grape pie filling before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  I was in for gastronomic bliss of epic proportions. If you pay attention to things I swoon about, you know THIS is at the top of my list.  Think of the juiciest, “grapiest”,  most luscious grape you’ve ever had.  Now multiply that by 10.  That’s Rebecca’s grape pie filling.

When there was talk of this book happening, I was beyond thrilled for my friend.  Her food is amazing and creative.  It is beautiful and yet,  practical.  As a former cook and Mom of 5 boys, she knows a thing or two about feeding people.   I couldn’t wait to get this book and review it because I knew it was going to be one of my “go-to” guides for canning.   I’ve made chutneys and jams, pie fillings and pickles,  chow chow and pickled beans… and then they sit there. Sometimes I get around to actually using them and sometimes, I give it all away because I can only eat so much of it.  Here’s where Rebecca saves the day:  there is a corresponding recipe for all of the things you’ve just canned!!!  I can’t even begin to explain my excitement about that!  

After all, a beautiful jar of something sitting on the shelf doesn’t do anyone any good unless you know how to use it!   -Rebecca Lindamood

If you or someone you know enjoys canning, get this book! There is something for everyone. It would make a great present for any occasion.  Or just because it’s Tuesday. I can’t recommend it enough.  It’s written in a way that makes it accessible for beginners and at the same time, appeals to experienced canners as well.  The recipes are unique and so varied!  Everything from the aforementioned grape pie filling to cardamom extract.   Make the cherries in red wine syrup this weekend (while you can still get this little ruby fruit) and enjoy the fruits (see what I did there ;)) of your labor in the fall or winter when you use those cherries to make Filet Mignon with Red Cherry Wine Sauce!  Make a batch of Ginger Peach Butter now, enjoy Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal later!   The entire book is like this!!!  Can you tell how much I love that?  It’s brilliant!

My dream pantry is lined top to bottom with beautiful jars containing their jewel colored treasures.  This book has me on my way to achieving that dream.  Thank you Rebecca, for reintroducing me to my love of canning.

Here is an affiliate link to Amazon to make getting your book even easier!

Happy Canning!

Lavender Scones…

So here we are smack in the middle of the holiday season and there are pumpkin, gingerbread & peppermint recipes coming out of people’s ears and what am I making?  Lavender scones.

I don’t mean to swim upstream, it just seems to happen…  I’ve been on a bit of a scone kick lately.  I will admit I’ve been making cranberry scones too and THOSE are holiday’ish, but I needed a break from the sea of cinnamon and nutmeg.

They are ridiculously easy  (especially the drop kind like these) and they take very little time, which is a blessing during this frenzied time of year when time and energy are in short supply.   

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(Pear) Butter Me Up…

Pear Butter

Recently I found myself with about 7 pounds of pears that were ripening faster than I could consume them.  Normally, this would never happen as pears are one of my favorites and generally don’t last long enough to even get mushy,  yet here we are.

There were ideas swirling around in my head as to what I could do with them, but none of them really thrilled me so I put out a call on the Facebook page for ideas.   Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head, you know?   Get some fresh ideas and perhaps learn a thing or two…  As usual, my friends came through.  I had a dozen great ideas in under 5 minutes.  It pays off to have “foodies” for friends!  Then, my “wish-she-were-really-my-sister” came through with “you could use this as a filling for sweet rolls”.  Well, that girl knows just how to get to me.  From that point on, it was all I could think about. 

I rushed to make it, take photos and write the recipe;  then life got in the way and it took me two weeks to write it up.    So much for planning…   I am still swooning over the idea of this being used as a filling for sweet rolls.  (That Jenni is a bit of an evil genius)

Now that I had decided on the fate of the pears,  it was time to get everything set up for canning.  Let me preface this by saying it is not imperative to can the pear butter.  Feel free to store it in the refrigerator if you are certain it will be consumed within a week or two.   I happen to get giddy over that “ping” of the lids sealing and thus am drawn to canning like a moth to a flame.   It adds 15 minutes to the process and I can leave them in the cupboard or give them to friends as gifts, well worth an extra fifteen minutes if you ask me and your friends will be impressed with your kitchen prowess…  they needn’t know it wasn’t all that difficult.

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 pear butter 008

Pear Butter
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Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 pounds very ripe pears (Bartlett or Anjou), roughly chopped (do not peel or seed)
  2. 1/2 cup Elderflower liqueur (or Bourbon)
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 1 star anise
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep pot, combine pears, elderflower liqueur or bourbon and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium high heat for approximately 30 - 40 minutes until fruit is falling apart.
  2. Run mixture through the fine mesh of a food mill to remove seeds and skin. Return puree to pot and stir in brown sugar, lemon juice ginger and salt.
  3. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until thick and amber colored. (about 2 - 2 1/2 hrs)
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Makes 6 half pint jars
  6. If you want to can the butter, sterilize jars & lids, spoon butter into jars and process in a water bath for 10 - 15 minutes.
Notes
  1. The original plan was to use bourbon with this... Only to discover I had none and did not feel like going out to buy some. I happened upon elderflower liqueur and it was quite the happy accident. It worked beautifully here.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/

Buttermilk Biscuits

Sometimes it’s as if people are dropped into your life out of the blue.  This is the story of  one such person.  I was lucky enough to have made a connection with another food blogger and Pastry Chef.  We “met” through Facebook & Twitter.  Like many other food bloggers, we are on each others pages.  We offer support, ask questions and weigh in on life-altering discussions about butter and how best to photograph one’s creations. 

During the course of a few months, we discovered how very much alike we are… although she is definitely the nicer one.  She has become my “Sissy” and this happened the day I met her in person. Continue reading