Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kitchen Improv: Blackberry Cobbler!

The other night the Hubs shot me a text saying that we needed to use up the blackberries in the fridge, as a few were starting to go bad.  We can’t have that!  So of course, cobbler was my first thought.  Delicious, easy way to use up a couple cups of fresh berries.

I got home from work, flipped through a couple cookbooks, and picked a recipe that seemed simple. I mean, flour, butter, berries, sugar, milk…how much more basic can you get?

Ten minutes into the prep for our Adventure into cobbler town, we made two discoveries.

1. We had only 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour in our pantry.

2. We also had only 1/4 cup of milk.

Did that stop us?  HECK NO!  There’s a 9x13 pan in the oven melting butter…and I’m not wasting a stick of butter just because of a couple setbacks.  Care to find out how we still managed to throw together this delectable gem?


Then keep reading. (Duh.  I’m sure you were planning on doing that anyway, right?)

First, I’ll give you the recipe I was SUPPOSED to use.  It’s apparently Mel Tillis’ mother’s cobbler recipe.

Ingredients (original):

1 stick butter

2 C milk

2 C flour

2 C blackberries

2 C sugar


Nice & simple, right?  But missing items in a pantry will throw off even the simplest of recipes.  So… we improvised.

First, my husband MADE flour.  Seriously.  MADE it.  He is RESOURCEFUL.  I’ve never made flour before.  I typically leave that to the professionals.

Two cups of old fashioned oats + 1 blender + 1 awesome husband?

IMG_1505 IMG_1508

BAM: Oat Flour.  Homemade even.

(Note: 2 cups of oats makes about 1.5 cups of oat flour.  So we added the 1/2 cup of regular flour that we already had.)

Then…no milk.  But that’s no problem: We have INSTANT MILK!


If you DON’T keep a box of dry milk in your pantry…you really should.  It’s perfect for these situations and there’s no taste difference (when used for baking), and a big box is pretty darn cheap.  Also comes in handy when you’re out of coffee creamer. :D

So we have a glass 9x13 pan in the oven, with a stick of butter cut up in it, melting:


And we’re combining our ingredients in our mixer: flour, milk, sugar (I actually decreased this to 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of Splenda.  The blackberries are already pretty sweet, so 2 cups of sugar just seemed excessive).


The batter seemed a little thin, and I was really surprised there wasn’t a leavener of some sort in the recipe, so I added 1 tsp of baking soda & 1/4 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of cornstarch, and about 1/2 cup of additional flour (I had some wheat pastry flour in the pantry that needed to be used up as well).

Once the thickness seemed right (like cake batter), I poured it into the pan on top of the melted butter, and then sprinkled the blackberries evenly over the top.  Then, sprinkle 1 tbsp of white sugar over the top of the batter.


Bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes, or until the top browns and the edges of the crust pull away from the sides of the pan.


Makes 15 servings.

Ingredients (actual recipe used):

1 stick butter

2.5 cups flour (1/2 cup AP, 1.5 cup oat flour, 1/2 cup wheat pastry flour)

2 cups nonfat milk

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 baking powder

1 tsp cornstarch

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup Splenda

2 heaping cups blackberries



Calories 150.0  

Total Fat 4.1 g   

Saturated Fat 0.2 g   

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g   

Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g  

Cholesterol 10.6 mg  

Sodium 122.0 mg  

Potassium 90.6 mg  

Total Carbohydrate 28.3 g   

Dietary Fiber 2.5 g   

Sugars 13.1 g  

Protein 3.8 g

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thirsty Thursday: Blackberry Margarita!

Here we go.  I promised you a blackberry margarita, and here it is.  And it’s WAY easy. 

This was invented somewhat on a whim, and somewhat on inspiration from a Bon Appetit article that listed less traditional margarita recipes.  My coworker Jen was nice enough to bring some El Jimador tequila to our anniversary BBQ, and mentioned that she hadn’t thought to get the other ingredients for margaritas.  I remembered my freshly made blackberry syrup in the fridge, excused myself, and about 5 minutes later, returned with two of these:



1/4 cup tequila

2 tbsp blackberry syrup

2 tbsp lime juice

blackberries for garnish


(It’s so Instagram-y…)

Combine & enjoy.  Sweet, tart, & super smooth.  Just like you.  D’aww…


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Good Ol’ Cajun Shrimp Boil

When the weather starts getting warm down in Louisiana, it’s time to break out the 10-gallon boiler pot and fire up the outdoor burner:

FLAME ON! [Don’t try this at home.]
Well, you can try a boil at home, but just use caution if you’re using an outdoor flame boiler…or if your hand spontaneously combusts.

For my husband & I’s first wedding anniversary, I decided it was high time to bust into the new potatoes I’ve been growing in my garden:

I was hoping to have “hundreds of potatoes” based on the promises of this Pinterest project, however, this is the entirety of my haul.  Apparently, only certain types of potatoes grow well using the barrel method…and apparently, I didn’t plant any of those types.  But here’s what I have!  A large-ish bowl of some lovely lil’ potatoes.

And I dunno about you, but my absolute FAVORITE way to eat new potatoes is in a crawfish boil.  However, I’m in Missouri, and I has no crawfish.

But I DO have shrimp (frozen, but domestic), and delicious Missouri-grown sweet corn.


(Image pilfered from the interwebz.  I do not own a crawfish pot or an outdoor burner.  Nor to I regularly stir my food with lumber.)

I typically use either theZatarain's dry mix, or the concentrated oil; however, I found this spice bag at a thrift store, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.  


If you’re on a sodium restriction, you should use the bag or the oil, as the dry mix is primarily made of salt.  With the oil & the bag you control how much salt & how much cayenne you add.
Since we’re not making a big batch, we don’t need a huge boil pot or an outdoor burner.  I just use a big sauce pot & my stovetop.

1 lb shrimp, thawed or fresh (I prefer heads removed & deveined but with the rest of the shell on)
4 ears corn, cut in half
One big pile o’ tiny potatoes (probably about 3-4 cups worth)
1 bag crab boil
2-3 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
Other optional items: fresh mushrooms (washed & halved), lemons (halved), onions (halved or whole if small)

Fill your pot 1/2-2/3 way with water, add your seasoning bag, corn, potatoes, seasonings, and other Optional items to the pot, and bring to a boil.


Once boiling, lower the heat to medium until the potatoes are close to done (can pierce with a fork, but not easily or doesn’t go all the way in [that’s what she said]) and then add in your shrimp.  The shrimp should cook in just a few minutes, and you don’t want to overcook them.
Then drain the pot, and serve the goods in a 9x13 pan for communal eating (learning to share is important!)

(I wanted to line the pan with newspaper for a more authentic look, but we just took all the papers to the recycling center.  Lesson learned.)

Feel free to shake on a little extra Cajun seasoning if needed (never necessary if you use the bag mix—you’ll be lucky to get that stuff off your fingers):

(My friend Em, at a crawfish boil circa 2007.  Dem’s sum dirty hands. But a super awesome person.)

And whatever you do…please…for the love of all that’s holy…DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES.  Unless you hate yourself and your eyes and feel like you need a good cry.  Capsacin & eyeballs DO NOT MIX.

In the words of my friend JoJo, once you’re done eating, “Wash your d*mn dirty hands.”

Makes four moderate servings, or two big servings.  NutriFacts are based on 4 servings.

Calories 309.6
  Total Fat 2.3 g
  Saturated Fat 0.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.5 g
  Cholesterol 221.0 mg
  Sodium 667.4 mg
  Potassium 449.3 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 69.1 g
  Dietary Fiber 10.4 g
  Sugars 2.9 g
  Protein 30.6 g

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bacon & Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Okay.  My apologies.  I spent part of the week of my Meal-Tracking-Experiment talking up these delicious bacon cookies I’d made, but then launched into Ultimate Wedding Week before I could share the recipe with you!  I’m rectifying that right now.


The original recipe for this came from a Bon Appetit magazine that my mom gave me.  It originally specified bacon & raisin cookies, which would be a perfectly acceptable & fun breakfast cookie.  But no.  Momma wants Chocolate with her Bacon.  So we modified the recipe accordingly.

Ingredients (makes 18-20 cookies):

8 oz lean sliced bacon, diced

2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used 1/2 AP flour, and 1/2 wheat pastry flour)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup white sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) light butter, room temp

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup oats

2/3 cup chocolate chips



Preheat the oven to 375F. 

Sift together your dry ingredients, minus the oats.  I had some whole wheat pastry flour on hand, so I decided to use that for a lil’ added health benefit, and to add some “fluff” to these cookies.  Pastry flour is low in gluten, so it makes a nice fluffy batter—good for doughnuts, cookies, cupcakes….bad for bread.  Trust me.


Now add in your sugars, butter, vanilla, eggs, and oats, and beat until combined.  Then mix in your chocolate, and stick the bowl in the fridge, as the batter will be a bit sticky, and the cold will make it easier to mold cookies.


Now, you should make some bacon.  We have a microwave bacon rack that makes it nice & easy to cook the bacon, keep it up out of the grease, and then we can easily capture the grease for cooking later.


(My husband decided I should make an appearance on my blog.  Choppin’ bacon!  Which is sorta like Choppin’ Broccoli, but different.  You can see our microwave bacon tray in the background behind me.)

And for the ultimate in laziness, I chopped the bacon on the cookie sheet I’d be using to bake the cookies—no greasing of the cookie sheet needed! (In retrospect, I wouldn’t do that again.  That slight bit of bacon grease on the bottom of the cookies sorta overpowered the chocolate at times, and it made these cookies saltier than they should be.)

Mix the bacon in with the chilled dough, and chill for another 15 minutes.

Use a small ice cream scoop (2 oz) if you have it—if not, just use a couple cold tablespoons to form your dough.

Bake at 375F for approx 20 minutes.  If you have to use two cookie sheets, rotate the pans halfway through baking.

Then…proceed to NOM.



Calories 90.9  

Total Fat 2.2 g   

Saturated Fat 0.9 g  

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g   

Monounsaturated Fat 0.6 g  

Cholesterol 13.8 mg  

Sodium 35.3 mg  

Potassium 60.7 mg  

Total Carbohydrate 21.2 g   

Dietary Fiber 1.8 g   

Sugars 11.4 g  

Protein 2.3 g

Monday, July 23, 2012

Louisiana Pancakes: Blackberries & Pecans, oh my!

During my last trip down to Louisiana, I had breakfast with my best friend & her husband at T’Coons, one of the best breakfast spots in all of Lafayette.  I downed a (couple) cups of Mello Joy to wash down some sweet potato pancakes w/pecans.


So once I got home and got this horde of blackberries…I of COURSE had to have more pancakes to go with my homemade syrup.  Fluffy cake, juicy blackberries, and crunchy roasted Louisiana pecans?  This is a no brainer.


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blackberries (ours were rather large, so I quartered them)
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Blackberry syrup

First, we need to toast our pecans.  This isn’t 100% required, but I think it really makes the pecans pop w/flavor.

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat, and add 1 tbsp butter/margarine, the cinnamon stick, and the pecans.  Toss so the butter coats the nuts and the cinnamon stick gets to mingle with everybody.

Toss for about 5-7 minutes; just until you start to be able to really smell the pecans.  Then you can turn them onto a cutting board, discard the cinnamon stick, and then chop the pecans.


Now, mix your pancake batter.  That’s the first 8 ingredients (flour through cinnamon).  Mix til lump-free.  If it seems a little thin, add a lil’ bit more flour.


Use the same skillet you roasted the pecans, and add your favorite non-stick spray (we like butter flavored) and heat to medium.  

Now, go back to your batter.  Add the blackberries & the pecans.


NOTE: If you have small blackberries, you can opt to not mix the berries & pecans into your batter.  I tried that originally…however, my blackberries were HYYOOOJJ so when I went to flip the ‘cakes, the opposite side wouldn’t make full contact with the pan, and I ended up with broken pancakes:


Plus, by mixing it in, you get more berry in each bite.

I used an ice cream scoop to keep my pancake sizes pretty uniform:


Now—the magic of pancakes…waiting for when it’s OK to flip.  Just watch for the bubbles, and keep checking the edges.  when there are bubbles in the center of your cake, that indicates it’s cooked through in the middle, and OK to flip.  But just keep a good eye as you check the edges and your heat—these can burn easy, and your stove temps may vary.

When you’ve got a couple cakes to stack up, drizzle with your blackberry syrup and garnish with a few fresh berries.

Proceed to chow down. Makes about 8-10 pancakes (1/2 cup batter per cake).  Serve each stack w/about 2 tbsp of syrup.

Calories 155.2
  Total Fat 8.4 g
  Saturated Fat 1.1 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 2.7 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 3.2 g
  Cholesterol 39.1 mg
  Sodium 333.9 mg
  Potassium 99.3 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 16.8 g
  Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
  Sugars 2.3 g
  Protein 3.3 g