nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “cooking

Pancake Squares

Many of you found your way to my corner of the interwebs via a little piece I wrote about a surprisingly awesome Anakin Skywalker toy. If you’re hoping for more along those lines, you’ll have to excuse this temporary lapse into domesticity.

Fret not, good denizens, I’ve got more pop-culture ponderings to share in the days ahead.

But first, we must reflect on the scrumptious gems known as Pancake Squares. Pancake Squares
This, friends, is what delicious looks like.

Take a minute to let your eyes linger on these. And just think, this is before adding the butter and syrup. <wipes drool from chin>

They’re so fluffy, I’m gonna die!

I stumbled across the recipe on Pinterest, originally in this post by Big Red Kitchen.
We all know that Pinterest recipes can be iffy…I’ve run into as many “misses” as “hits” (if not more). These, though, are a definite “hit” for me.

If you’re looking for a 10-minute meal, you might want to stick with the boxed mixes. It does take a bit more time to gather the ingredients for these, and you’ve got to wait for them to bake; the extra agony is entirely worth it, though!

Pancake Squares

2 Tbs. melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 Tbs. sugar
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

• Preheat oven to 350°. You can use the heating time to assemble your ingredients.

•  Mix together milk, butter and egg in a good-sized bowl (I did not use my stand mixer for this endeavor). Add sugar and beat in flour/baking powder/salt until incorporated.

• Pour batter into greased 8×8 pan. I’m told you can double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 pan.

• Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown (I didn’t want mine too well done so I started the toothpick test around 18 minutes).



Tastes Like Chicken

If you have never experienced my white chicken chili, I feel sorry for you. Literally, you make me sad. Not as sad as those Sara McLachlan pet-adoption commercials but almost.

I will thus perform a noble public service and share my recipe. You’ll have the key to yumminess, I won’t feel guilty, it’s a win-win!

This is the quintessential chicken chili; you’ll not find one better so don’t waste your time. Unless, of course, you’re looking for a really healthy option, then it’s probably best to move along. This isn’t the chili you’re looking for.

Here’s the thing: I refer to the actual recipe very loosely. The stated quantities are basically just suggestions as far as I’m concerned—start there and adjust to your taste. My ‘suggestion’ has a little kick but isn’t super spicy. It makes enough for the two of us to have a couple of hearty helpings with another small serving or two for lunch the next day.

The Best White Chicken Chili. Ever.

Get these:
1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups half & half
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup shredded colby-jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 large white onion, diced
1 can white beans (use 2 if you’re bean people)
Some of those pickled jalapeño slices, chopped, with just a little of the juice mixed in to taste (Old El Paso is good because we use scant amounts and just keep the jar in the fridge to use multiple times)

(baking is much easier)

(baking is much easier)

First, season your chicken with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste (this is just a little bit in addition to the measurements listed above).

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until cooked through. If you really wanted to, you could cook it on the stove, which could end up setting off your smoke detector and making your dogs cry. Baking it in the oven is way easier. Trust me.
After the chicken is cooled, you’ll want to shred it into little bits.
I use my hands, but you could use a stand mixer* or forks or something, I suppose.
*UPDATE: if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, throw the paddle beater on it and let that puppy shred the chicken for you; just drop it in hot out of the oven and let ‘er rip. It’s like magic, only yummier!

While you’re waiting on your chicken, cook the diced onion in 2 Tbs of butter. You want the onions to be soft and look translucent—it only takes a couple of minutes. Set aside.

In a big ol’ dutch oven pot, melt the rest of the butter over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour. This step is creating a roux that will thicken the chili. Whisk constantly as it cooks for about 2-3 minutes. It might look awful, and you might feel like you screwed it up…don’t get frustrated…as long as you don’t let it burn, you’re okay.
Slowly mix in the broth, half & half and onion. Keep whisking!

Bring the mixture to a boil then let it simmer for about 5 minutes until it’s thickened.
You’ll want to whisk it occasionally so nothing burns or sticks to the bottom of your pot.

Add the spices then the chicken, beans, peppers and cheese. Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes (or longer if you’d like), stirring occasionally. Stir in the sour cream a few minutes before serving to make it even creamier.

chili!Dish it up and enjoy!


Oh, Fudge!

The last time I made fudge was about four years ago. It didn’t set up right, so I swore it off in discouragement. But I’m a hardy Midwesterner—it was only a matter of time before I tried my luck again.

For Thanksgiving, I made my quasi-famous “pumpkin yummy” dessert. I think it’s more widely known as ‘pumpkin pie cake’ or ‘pumpkin pie crumble’; I’ll blog it one of these days. Anyway, the point is that I thought I was opening a can of sweetened condensed milk when, in fact, I opened a can of evaporated milk. So I’ve had an open can of fake milk just waiting to be used.

The stars aligned yesterday. I attempted to make fudge, and it actually worked. And I avoided having my face burned off. Seems I’m still a novice with the gas stove and accidentally flipped right on past the lighter, running the gas for a bit before it ignited—big ball of flames, rather scary.
There’s nothing particularly special about this recipe, except that it works. And I still have my face. That’s enough for me.

Fudgedy FudgeFudgey Goodness

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 lb chopped semi-sweet chips or block chocolate
  • 1 tsp. cocoa
  • 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Have everything ready to go—chocolate & nuts chopped, marshmallow cream already out of the jar, 12″x17″x2″ baking pan lined with waxed paper. I set mine up with the waxed paper as a sling, so you can easily remove it from the pan.

2. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring sugar, butter, and milk to a rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly once the mixture begins to bubble. Remove the mixture from the heat once it reaches about 235°F on a candy thermometer (“soft ball stage”), which takes roughly 4 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate, cocoa, and marshmallow cream. Once those have melted and incorporated, stir in the vanilla, salt, and walnuts. Don’t doddle, it thickens pretty darn fast!

4. Pour into prepared pan.

sling5. Cool to room temperature before slicing. I refrigerated for 2.5 hours or so, and it set up nicely. Also, lifting out the “sling” makes it ideal for cutting with a pizza wheel. Easy!

Take 2

I jumped the gun a bit by publishing my last post without first adding photos and sharing a couple of secret tips. So you’ll never guess what I made for dinner tonight…

No need to fret if you find yourself with leftover casserole; it’s just as good the next day. Simply peel off and discard the potato chip/cheese layer from the top and crush up some fresh chips for reheating.

Also, I tend to stray from the recipe depending on how I’m feeling or what ingredients are on hand. I almost always use light Miracle Whip in place of real mayonnaise. Instead of minced onion, adding onion salt (to taste) works wonderfully.
A little shredded cheese mixed inside the ‘salad’ lends a nice flavor. And taking the time to measure everything out precisely? Nah!

Here it is one last time:

Hot Turkey Salad Casserole

3 c. cooked turkey (Thanksgiving scraps work well)
1 1/2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. chopped almonds (or almond slivers)
1 T. minced onion
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 c. grated cheddar
1 1/2 c. crushed potato chips

Combine turkey, celery, almonds, onion, lemon juice & pepper. Add mayo and toss. Sprinkle with cheese and top with chips. Bake in pre-heated 375-degree oven for 25 minutes.

Blame the Tryptophan

I’ve been a bad little blogger. Between stuffing my face and decking my halls (and shopping), upkeep of the Thicket has been back of mind. Regardless, I’m sharing something very special with you today—my very favorite leftover-turkey recipe. You’re probably thinking that those are a dime a dozen this time of year, particularly with my friend Pinterest ruling the interwebs; stop thinking that. This one really is special, because it’s delicious and occupies a sentimental spot in my heart.

Three weeks before my 15th birthday, we were awake at an ungodly hour, packing our car and preparing for the ten-hour drive to Texas. My 94-year-old great-grandmother, facing steadily declining health, awaited our arrival. We knew that in all likelihood, this was to be our last visit before she passed out of this life.

As we made our last check of things around the house, the phone rang. When calls come in that early in the morning, you know not to expect a telemarketer…or anything other than bad news. Great Mamaw couldn’t hold out for us any longer; she had gone ahead.

The rushing to leave the house came to an abrupt halt as we began our grieving. It was a cold January morning.

Some hours later, we were in Texas, which was somewhat warmer; I remember nothing of the drive there or the couple of days that followed. Aside from visiting the floral shop, memories of the visitation and funeral evade me. Tidbits of the after-service dinner, however, stuck with me. Enter the turkey/potato chip casserole.

I spent the better part of the next dozen years thinking of that dish (from time to time, anyway, not exactly obsessing over it). One day my mom and I finally broke down and combed through every church and charity cookbook we could get our hands on. The trick was searching for a chicken recipe instead of turkey—though I don’t imagine chicken could possibly taste as good. I make it every year now, and I strongly suggest you do the same. It’s comforting and yummy and not your average tetrazzini-type casserole.

Hot Turkey Salad Casserole (aka the recipe that a random stranger made for post-funeral supper)

3 c. cooked turkey (Thanksgiving scraps work well)
1 1/2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. chopped almonds (or almond slivers)
1 T. minced onion
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 c. grated cheddar
1 1/2 c. crushed potato chips

Combine turkey, celery, almonds, onion, lemon juice & pepper. Add mayo and toss. Sprinkle with cheese and top with chips. Bake in pre-heated 375-degree oven for 25 minutes.