Categories
Bread Breakfast

Using a softer flour is the ‘fluff’ dreams are made of

This recipe for homemade biscuits is good when made with hard red winter wheat flour. It’s even better when you can get ahold of soft winter wheat flour, making these fluffier and tastier than ever.

The Kansas Wheat Commission reports on its website that there are six varieties of wheat grown in the United States.

Those include hard red winter, hard white, soft red winter, soft white, hard red spring and durum.

Anyone who has been around wheat farmers in Kansas knows that most farms produce the hard red winter variety. The wheat commission notes we grow more of it here than anywhere else in the country.

I’m sure I already knew that there were other varieties of wheat, but until a few months ago, I didn’t give it much thought. Wheat flour is wheat flour, right?

But, as many of my weird experiments tend to begin, I watched a video online of a woman claiming that she made the best biscuits of her life by using flour produced in the South—soft winter wheat flour.

It stuck in my mind, but since our grocery stores don’t sell it (if someone does, let me know), I didn’t see any way to test it out. But then we were invited to speak at the Kentucky Press Association convention, and I had the perfect opportunity to visit a Kroger, get myself some soft winter wheat, and give it a try.

And I have to admit that I was honest-to-goodness angry, because, you guys, it worked. I had the fluffiest biscuits I have ever made. So I’m sharing a recipe with you that I actually shared clear back in September of 2013 for homemade biscuits (you can find that post on my website, spiceupkitchen.net), and while you can totally make these with hard red winter wheat flour, I’m imploring you to try to get ahold of some of the soft stuff to see the difference. It’s a weird experiment but totally worth it.

Print

Even Fluffier Homemade Biscuits

This recipe for homemade biscuits is good when made with hard red winter wheat flour. It’s even better when you can get ahold of soft winter wheat flour, making these fluffier and tastier than ever.
Course Bread, Breakfast
Keyword easy biscuits, fluffy biscuits, homemade biscuits, soft red wheat flour

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose soft winter wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup shortening

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in the shortening until it’s well combined (the texture will become a bit mealy).
  • Add milk and stir. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and knead until all of the ingredients are well-combined and the dough is soft and easy to roll. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it’s tough and hard to work with, add a little more milk.
  • After the dough is kneaded into a soft ball, roll it out to about one-inch thickness.
  • Use a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass to cut out biscuits. Continue to roll out dough and cut it into biscuits until all the dough is used (if you have a weird little bit left over, go ahead and bake it. It won’t be pretty, but it’ll be tasty.).
  • Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

We had these with sausage gravy, and I changed nothing about how I made the biscuit recipe I’ve made dozens of times since 2013 except the type of flour.

Could it have been confirmation bias? Sure.

But Joey was convinced, too, and I honestly might bake two batches to compare side by side just to see.

Regardless, this recipe is one to try, no matter what kind of wheat flour you use. It comes together quickly and is way better than the canned variety.

Now I’ll have to figure out how to keep supplying myself with soft winter wheat flour for future biscuit baking. I still have several pounds left, but with how much we enjoyed this experiment, I don’t expect it to last long.

This piece first appeared in print Thursday, April 11, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Creating a decadent cheesecake isn’t ‘cherry’ difficult

Making chocolate cherry cheesecake is a whole lot of hurry up and wait, as the components need to come up to room temperature between steps, but the final dessert is a deliciously decadent dessert that is worth all the time it takes to create.

“We’re in! What can I bring?” I texted my mom about Easter lunch.

“A dessert of some kind,” she wrote back. “Make something easy!!!!”

“Since when do I make complicated desserts?” I responded, punctuating it with a laughing emoji.

So, in other words, here’s a slightly complicated (but amazingly decadent) dessert I made for Easter lunch with my family.

This comes from “The First Year” blog. You can find the original post at https://thefirstyearblog.com/chocolate-cherry-cheesecake/. I added extra vanilla in my version and changed up the topping, as I’ll explain later.

Print

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

Making chocolate cherry cheesecake is a whole lot of hurry up and wait, as the components need to come up to room temperature between steps, but the final dessert is a deliciously decadent dessert that is worth all the time it takes to create.
Course Dessert
Keyword cherry, chocolate, chocolate ganache, chocolate graham crackers, cream cheese, fresh cherries, graham cracker crust, Italian creamer, semisweet chocolate chips, vanilla

Ingredients

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons butter melted

Cheesecake Ingredients

  • 3 8- ounce packages cream cheese use the full fat
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Italian cream flavored coffee creamer use the full fat
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cherries chopped (use fresh or thawed and drained frozen fruit)

Ganache Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips I used semi-sweet

Topping Ingredients

  • about 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • about 1 cup fresh cherries

Instructions

Crust Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare an eight-inch springform pan by wrapping the bottom piece in aluminum foil and then assembling the pan. Wrap the outside in three more layers of foil, making sure it goes up along the outsides of the pan. Set it aside.
  • Find a nine-by-13-inch pan or something similar that your springform will fit into so you can use it to make a water bath. (I ended up using a large bowl.) You’ll need this later.
  • Make sure the graham crackers are crushed finely, and pour them into a bowl along with the melted butter, mixing well to coat all the crackers with the butter.
  • Press the crumbs into the bottom of your prepared pan, using a glass or measuring cup to compact them firmly.
  • Bake for eight to 10 minutes or until the crust is lightly toasted.
  • Set the pan aside and let it come up to room temperature.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Cheesecake Directions

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on high speed for two to three minutes, making sure it is smooth and creamy.
  • Beat in the sugar and vanilla until smooth. Next, beat in the creamer, and finally, beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the mixture is completely smooth in between additions.
  • Finally, beat on high for one more minute, and then fold in the cherries.
  • Once the springform pan is cooled to room temperature, pour the cheesecake mixture into it.
  • Place the springform pan into your nine-by-13 pan and fill the nine-by-13 with water until it’s about one inch below the top of the tin foil on the springform pan.
  • Carefully transfer the whole contraption to your 325-degree oven and bake for one hour or until just the middle of the cheesecake wobbles when you gently shake the pan, but the edges are firm.
  • When the cheesecake is done, turn off the oven and crack the oven door. Leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for about an hour to an hour and one-half. Once it is at room temperature, remove it from the oven and water bath (you can toss the foil layers at this point) and put in the refrigerator for six hours or overnight to completely chill.

Ganache Directions

  • Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator, run a knife around the outside to loosen the edges from the springform, and remove the cheesecake from the pan.
  • Move it to your serving plate.
  • Add the chocolate chips to a heat safe bowl.
  • In a small pot, bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium heat, stirring regularly to keep it from scalding. As soon as it boils, pour it over the chocolate chips. Stir to incorporate the chocolate and cream, and then let it sit for about five minutes to cool.
  • Using a spatula, spread the ganache over the top and sides of your cheesecake, trying to form an even layer. (It will harden as you go, so work quickly.)
  • Add chocolate chips and fresh cherries to the top for decoration. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

This got rave reviews from everyone. It was creamy and fruity and chocolatey and fabulous. I ended up creating a homemade cherry pie filling that I put on top instead of fresh cherries, since I was using up fruit from my freezer, and that was fabulous, too.

And, in my defense, it was really only complicated because of all the waiting time between steps for this recipe. Overall, it actually wasn’t too bad.

See, Mom? I can totally do simple.

This piece first appeared in print on April 4, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Cookies Dessert

Combining cookies and cinnamon rolls is totally friend‘chip’ goals

Chocolate chip cookie cinnamon rolls are exactly what the name implies: a gooey, delicious combination of cookies and sweet rolls. Since the recipe uses pre-made ingredients, it’s extremely easy for even amateur bakers to accomplish.

Every once in awhile, I run across a food idea so dumb but so obviously delicious that I just have to try it.

It happened when I made poutine tacos. It happened when I decided to try Mountain Dew and Doritos cupcakes.

And it happened again this past week, when I saw a simple recipe that promised to combine two high-calorie, delectable treats: cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies.

So I went to the store, dumping a package of pre-made cookies and pre-made rolls into my cart and hoping no one who regularly reads my column saw me and wondered if I was losing a step.

And then I made magic in my kitchen.

I was right. They were dumb. But they were so, so good, and now that I have the knowledge that this can be done, it’s only right that I share it with all of you so you can shame buy packages of refrigerated dough and try this out at your house, too.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Dude Foods” by Nick Chipman. (If you’re into weird food experiments, he’s your guy.) You can find the original post at https://dudefoods.com/chocolate-chip-cookie-stuffed-cinnamon-rolls/. There were only two ingredients for this, so I didn’t change those up, but I did clarify some directions that should make your life a little easier when trying these.

Print

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cinnamon Rolls

Chocolate chip cookie cinnamon rolls are exactly what the name implies: a gooey, delicious combination of cookies and sweet rolls. Since the recipe uses pre-made ingredients, it’s extremely easy for even amateur bakers to accomplish.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword canned cinnamon rolls, cookie dough, easy dessert, quick dessert

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 12.4 ounce package of refrigerated cinnamon roll dough with icing

Instructions

  • Let the cookie dough come up to room temperature before starting assembly.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside.
  • Cut two large pieces of parchment paper or waxed paper, and sandwich the cookie dough between them. Using a rolling pin, roll out the cookie dough to about one-quarter inch in thickness, trying to keep it in as much of a rectangular shape as you can.
  • Carefully remove the top layer of paper and set it aside. Unroll the cinnamon rolls and place them, lengthwise, evenly across the cookie dough. It’s OK if you end up with a little space between or if they hang off the end a little.
  • Take a table knife or pizza cutter and cut a line in the cookie dough between each cinnamon roll, making long strips.
  • Place the paper back on top of the dough. Slide it onto a baking sheet, place another baking sheet on top, and flip the stack over.
  • Now, peel the top layer of paper off and begin tightly rolling the cinnamon roll/cookie dough lines into rolls, and place them on your prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least an inch apart.
  • Once all of the dough is rolled, bake for about 15 minutes or until the dough is soft but set up on the bottoms. While the rolls are hot, cover them with the icing included with the cinnamon rolls. Serve them immediately and store any leftovers in an airtight container. This will make eight rolls.

I was seriously almost angry that these were so stinking good, because they were way too easy to make. They were soft and cinnamon-y and chocolaty and would be phenomenal with a big glass of milk. We were lucky to have a get together the day I made these, so I managed to get away with only eating half of a roll, which I shared with Joey, before passing these calorie bombs off on our friends. (Sorry, gang!)

I can officially cross another weird recipe off my to do list, though, and that’s pretty cool. I have discovered that curiosity is a large part of what drives my kitchen experiments, and I was happy to answer the “what if” of this food combination.

This piece first appeared in print on March 28, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Don’t be ‘alfredo’ trying from-scratch pasta sauce

Alfredo sauce is very simple to make with just a few ingredients and can go from the stovetop to the table in under 20 minutes.

It’s amazing what people will passionately debate about online.

Recently, I watched a video that started with two Italians explaining that they were going to show people how to make real alfredo sauce. The rest of the video was another creator trying out the dish, and from his reaction, I knew I had to give it a shot.

Of course, before that, I read some of the comments, and people were up in arms about whether or not fettuccine alfredo is really Italian or is an American invention.

I had to do some research, and I found an article by Francesco Dama entitled “Italian or American? The truth about fettuccine alfredo” that claims that the Italians created the dish and some American actors in the 1920s helped make it famous.

After reading the article, it was clear that the ingredients used for this particular recipe were, indeed, the ones used by the dish’s creator, aptly named Alfredo.

The recipe I tried comes from content creator Corey Bonalewicz. You can find his videos on Instagram @iamcoreyb. His website is coreyb.com. I added salt and pepper to my version and added the amounts for the ingredients.

Print

Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo sauce is very simple to make with just a few ingredients and can go from the stovetop to the table in under 20 minutes.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword butter, easy dinner, fettuccine, grated parmesan cheese, linguine, parmesan cheese, parmesan-reggiano

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces fettuccine or linguine noodles
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook your noodles according to package instructions. When they’re done, be sure to reserve a couple cups of pasta water.
  • While the noodles cook, spread the butter onto the bottom of a large serving bowl and grate your cheese.
  • When the noodles are done, put the hot, drained noodles into the serving bowl and mix until the butter is melted and evenly distributed onto the noodles. Next, stir in the cheese. Add about one-quarter cup of the hot pasta water and stir.
  • Add more water, a little at a time, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the consistency you want.
  • Serve immediately.

I made the rookie mistake of buying pre-shredded parmesan for this, and it was disastrously difficult to get it to smoothly melt into the sauce. It was still good, but I will definitely make this again with cheese I grate myself. If you’re not aware, pre-shredded cheese normally has an additive to keep it from clumping, which makes it tough to melt smoothly.

That being said, the flavor was on point for this, and I really enjoyed it. To make it a full meal, I sauteed some onions, bell peppers and spicy rope sausage to serve over the pasta, and it was great.

And whether you think fettuccine alfredo is a true Italian dish or something Americans came up with, it’s still delicious, and that’s really all that matters.

This piece first appeared in print on March 21, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Put this ‘four’midable cake on your list for this week

This cake is made with only four ingredients—yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract and cornstarch. It’s a lightly sweet dessert that pairs well with fruit, honey or maple syrup and has a consistency a bit like a custard.

I was recently given the opportunity to speak to the Newton Kiwanis about the many projects I have been working on at the newspaper.

We enjoyed a great lunch and good conversation before I spent a bit talking about my job, including my over 10-year expedition into writing this column.

I noted to them that sometimes the recipes I try these days get a little weird, because I often feel like I’m running out of ideas for something new each week.

This week was definitely one of those weeks, but it was also one of those recipes that once I saw it online, I had to try it. It’s a cake that is billed as having only three ingredients. It actually has four, though, if you don’t count the toppings, so I decided to change the name. (See? There is accuracy in journalism.) Regardless, the combination sounded super strange, and I couldn’t resist.

This recipe comes from the blog “The Modern Nonna.” You can find the original post at https://themodernnonna.com/3-ingredient-yogurt-cake/. I doubled the vanilla in my version below.

Print

Four-Ingredient Yogurt Cake

This cake is made with only four ingredients—yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract and cornstarch. It’s a lightly sweet dessert that pairs well with fruit, honey or maple syrup and has a consistency a bit like a custard.
Course Dessert
Keyword cornstarch, easy dessert, eggs, low-calorie, low-fat, vanilla, yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Optional toppings: fruit honey, maple syrup, powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Line a nine-by-five-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the edges a bit so you can remove the cake easily when it’s done.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the yogurt and eggs until they are smooth.
  • Whisk in the vanilla and cornstarch, and continue stirring until everything is well combined.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool, gently remove it from the pan using the parchment paper, and transfer to a serving plate. Top with fruit, honey or maple syrup and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Slice and serve.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.

This. Was. Weird. It had a bit of a custard consistency, but it was firm enough to slice easily, too. I opted for honey and powdered sugar on mine, and it was very lightly sweet. Joey and I agreed it would have been even better with some fresh berries on top. The flavor profile reminded me a little bit of tapioca pudding.

Also, be ready for this to puff up a whole lot and then fall to being about two inches tall.

The recipe’s author also noted that you can use any other flavor of yogurt that sounds good, too, so if you’re in the mood to experiment even further, you have tons of options.

I really enjoyed my time with the Kiwanis, although no one seemed particularly excited by my explanation of this week’s weird recipe.

To each their own, I suppose.

This piece first appeared in print on March 14, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

This flavorful vegetable pasta doesn’t ‘shrimp’ on flavor

Tuscan shrimp linguine is fairly quick to make but packs a lot of flavor from fresh vegetables. It would be a great summer dish, when gardens are in full swing.

Some wonderful friends of ours hosted Joey and me this past weekend while we were on a trip to speak to some college students.

We were treated to a great time, fabulous food and amazing company, getting to break bread with a lot of their friends while we were there.

Of course, we had to return to reality, and once we were back home late on Monday, work loomed, and our fridge was empty. Not feeling particularly sure I wanted to indulge in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after the culinary weekend we experienced, I went to my Pinterest board to see what I could make for a quick dinner with only a dash into the grocery store.

The recipe I decided on comes from the blog “Sweet C’s” by Courtney Odell. You can find the original post at https://sweetcsdesigns.com/tuscan-shrimp-linguine/. I added seasoning in my version and subbed in asparagus instead of broccolini.

Print

Tuscan Shrimp Linguine

Tuscan shrimp linguine is fairly quick to make but packs a lot of flavor from fresh vegetables. It would be a great summer dish, when gardens are in full swing.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Tuscan
Keyword 30-minute meal, asparagus, basil, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, fresh spinach, garlic, grape tomatoes, linguine, shrimp, spinach, vegetable stock, white wine, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus cut into half-inch pieces
  • 10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or dry white wine
  • 8 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach cut into ribbons

Instructions

  • Start boiling your linguine according to package directions to cook it al dente.
  • While the pasta cooks, in a very large skillet, heat the olive oil and one tablespoon butter over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the onion and asparagus, and saute until they are both almost cooked through.
  • Add in the tomatoes, continuing to stir until their outsides start to wrinkle a bit, and they begin to burst (you can help them out at this point by gently squishing them with your spatula).
  • Add in the stock, garlic and the other tablespoon of butter, stirring to combine.
  • Once the butter is melted and the stock is at a low simmer, stir in the shrimp, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, continuing to stir regularly until the shrimp is cooked completely (it should be a light pink and starting to curl on itself a bit).
  • Stir in the cooked linguine, coating it with the sauce. Once everything is well-combined, stir in the fresh spinach, letting it wilt, and then serve immediately.

This was really tasty, and I couldn’t help but think it would be even better for those of you who will have gardens bursting with fresh veggies this summer. It was a simple, but filling, pasta that wasn’t overly seasoned, so the taste of the tomatoes and asparagus came through well.

If you’re not a shrimp person, you could easily use some pre-cooked chicken instead or just double the vegetables.

Even though I still need to do a proper grocery store trip, the bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, and the we’re back to another week of putting out the paper. But I do feel a bit lighter after this weekend.

There are few things as good for the soul as a great meal and even greater people to share it with.

This piece first appeared in print on March 7, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Try a great mini sweet that’s perfect to have ’round

Mini pumpkin spice donuts are completely addictive, with tons of delicious spices and a fabulous cinnamon-sugar coating.

When I was a kid, our Sunday morning breakfasts before church would often be something special from the day-old bakery we had in town.

One of my personal favorites was when we’d get mini donuts. I would dip them in milk, trading off between chocolate-covered and cinnamon sugar flavors.

I have been thinking about those donuts ever since I found a mini donut pan at our local thrift shop, and I finally took the plunge on baking some of my own.

Around Thanksgiving this year, I accidentally bought pumpkin pie filling instead of regular canned pumpkin, and it has been sitting in my pantry ever since, so I decided it was high time to both use up that can and break in my new pan.

The recipe I made is from the blog “Lovely Indeed.” You can find the original post at https://lovelyindeed.com/mini-donut-recipe-baked-pumpkin-spice-mini-donuts/. I added extra spices in my version.

Print

Mini Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Mini pumpkin spice donuts are completely addictive, with tons of delicious spices and a fabulous cinnamon-sugar coating.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword baked donuts, canned cinnamon rolls, cinnamon-sugar, cloves, donuts, ginger, mini donuts, pumpkin

Ingredients

Donut Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

Coating Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray the wells of a mini donut pan with cooking spray and set it aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking powder until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the flour just until it’s all incorporated.
  • Transfer the batter to a piping bag or a large zip-top plastic bag with the tip snipped off.
  • Fill each well on the pan about three-fourths full, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove the donuts from the pan and let them cool.
  • In another zip-top bag, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
  • Lightly brush each donut with melted butter, and then drop them (a few at a time) into the bag, and gently shake to coat them in cinnamon-sugar. Serve immediately, and store any leftovers in an airtight container.

This took some time to make, as my donut pan only has nine wells, and this recipe easily made several dozen donuts, but it also gave me plenty of time to wash up my dishes and listen to a podcast.

And these were worth it. We shared them with our guests for a mingle at our office, and then we shamelessly snacked on the leftovers for a few days afterwards. They were moist, full of flavor and very addictive. I had a few with a cup of coffee, and it was the perfect pairing.

I didn’t get a chance to dip any of these in milk like when I was younger, but it was still nice to remember those Sunday breakfasts with my family. And the best part? I didn’t even have to share these with my sister.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 29, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

This gooey, fancy souffle can’t possibly fall flat

Making this chocolate caramel pecan souffle takes some time and energy, but the deep bitter chocolate flavor, along with the sweetness of homemade caramel and the nuttiness of pecans makes all the effort worth it.

If you have been reading my column for very long, you might remember a fancy lemon tart I made last year about this time.

It was a French recipe and included making everything from scratch. I decided to try it as a donation to one of our local non-profits, Peace Connections, for their annual soup supper and dessert auction.

When the group contacted me this year to see if I wanted to come up with another dessert for the auction, I turned to my “complicated” list to see what I should make.

With most of the recipes I choose, I try to pick things that are fairly easy for anyone to make and don’t take hours in the kitchen to create, but my feeling on dessert auctions is that I want to make a recipe that most people have no desire to try to do themselves but would gladly pay for the opportunity to try.

So I decided this was my week to try something I have never made before: a souffle.

I was intimidated by the project, but I figured that the auction isn’t until next week, and this was just my test run, so if I failed miserably, I had time to come up with a new idea.

But it turned out really, really well, and in case you can’t make it to the auction, I’m sharing the recipe so you can try it, too.

This comes from the blog “Bake or Break” by Jennifer McHenry. You can find the original post at https://bakeorbreak.com/2012/09/chocolate-caramel-pecan-souffle-cake/. I actually followed this recipe to the letter, because making a souffle for the first time scared me.

Print

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Souffle

Making this chocolate caramel pecan souffle takes some time and energy, but the deep bitter chocolate flavor, along with the sweetness of homemade caramel and the nuttiness of pecans makes all the effort worth it.
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Keyword bittersweet chocolate, bourbon, caramel, fancy dessert, pecans, semisweet chocolate chips, souffle, vanilla

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup superfine sugar divided, plus extra for coating pan
  • 16 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped (I used bittersweet)
  • 8 eggs separated, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Caramel Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Brush the melted butter generously over the entire inside of a 10-inch springform pan.
  • Pour about a tablespoon of superfine sugar into the coated pan and rotate it until the entire inside is coated with a thin layer of sugar (add a little more to the pan, as needed). Tap out any excess sugar and set the pan aside.
  • Add the cup of butter and chocolate to a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl, and microwave for 90 seconds at half power. Stir the mixture, and if it’s not yet melted, microwave at half power again, 30 seconds at a time and stirring after each time, until the mixture is smooth and everything is melted together. Set the chocolate aside.
  • In another mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and salt on medium speed until the mixture is smooth. While continuing to beat the mixture, slowly add 1/2 cup of the superfine sugar, and continue to beat until the mixture turns a pale yellow color. This will take several minutes.
  • Beat in the bourbon and vanilla, and then hand stir the egg mixture into the melted chocolate.
  • In another mixing bowl, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar (it’s recommended to use a stainless steel bowl for this). Start with your mixer on low and beat until the egg whites are a bit foamy, then turn the speed up to high and beat until peaks begin to form. Add in the other 1/2 cup of superfine sugar, a little at a time, continuing to beat the mixture on high, and once it forms stiff peaks, you’re ready for the next step.
  • Stir about one-third of the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture until all of the white disappears, and then gently fold the rest of the eggs into it, just mixing until all of the white is incorporated but being careful to keep the mixture as airy as you can.
  • Pour the batter to the springform pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake puffs up, the top is firm, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.
  • Let the souffle cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. (Don’t worry if it falls a bit while it cools; that’s supposed to happen, and we’ll cover it all up with caramel soon.)
  • While the cake cools, make the caramel. In a heavy saucepan, add the sugar, water and cream of tartar and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Turn the heat up to high and let the mixture boil for several minutes, continuing to stir intermittently, until it turns a deep amber. Remove it from the heat as soon as it reaches that color so that it doesn’t burn.
  • Off the heat, stir in the pecans, cream and salt. (Mine fizzed up a bit when I did this. Just keep stirring.)
  • Put the pan back on low heat and stir continuously for about five minutes or until the caramel thickens. Stir in the bourbon, and continue to stir for a couple more minutes until the sauce thickens again. You’re looking for a gooey consistency like an ice cream topping.
  • Pour the caramel mixture evenly over the cake, and let the cake cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container.

This was definitely a several-hour project, but not only did my souffle turn out beautifully, it was absolutely delicious, too. It was extremely decadent with the bitter chocolate and the sweet caramel. It was amazing with a cup of coffee, and I bet it would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, too. This is one of those desserts where a small piece is the perfect amount because of how rich it is.

And if you don’t want to try to make this one yourself, I’ll be making another that could be yours.

The Peace Connections soup supper begins at 5:30 p.m. and is by donation. The dessert auction will go from 6:15 to 7 p.m. Everything will take place Thursday, Feb. 29, at Newton Nazarene Church, 1000 N Main St., Newton, and the proceeds will benefit Harvey County Circle of Hope, which helps community members reach financial stability. You can learn more at peaceconnections.org.

Plus, I can cross a souffle off my list, along with a French cream tart. Now I just have to figure out what I’ll make next year.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 22, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Don’t have time to get ’round to dinner? Make meatball soup.

Italian meatball soup makes for a really quick and hearty dinner. It would be a great companion to a grilled cheese sandwich or a thick slice of garlic bread.

I was in such a hurry this week, trying to toss together a quick dinner for Joey and I before we headed back out the door for more commitments.

In the moments before I headed home, I popped into the grocery store, a new recipe on my phone, grabbing quick ingredients before trying to get food on the table.

But being me, I strayed a bit from the ingredient list, adding this and that to my basket and internally planning the spice mixture I would throw into the soup I was going to make.

Even for a quick dinner, I just couldn’t keep myself from playing with the recipe.

The one I tried comes from the blog “Girl Gone Gourmet” by April Anderson. You can find the original post at https://www.girlgonegourmet.com/italian-meatball-soup/. I changed it quite a bit from the original, adding quite a few ingredients to my version.

Print

Italian Meatball Soup

Italian meatball soup makes for a really quick and hearty dinner. It would be a great companion to a grilled cheese sandwich or a thick slice of garlic bread.
Course Main Course, Soup
Keyword basil, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, frozen meatballs, fusilli pasta, garlic powder, grated parmesan cheese, Italian meatballs, marinara sauce, onion powder, oregano, paprika, parsley, quick dinner, quick soup, red pepper flakes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce I used a roasted garlic version
  • 26 ounces frozen Italian-style meatballs
  • 8 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated parmesan cheese for serving

Instructions

  • In a large pot with a lid, add the broth, diced tomatoes (don’t drain them) and marinara sauce, over high heat.
  • Stir to combine the ingredients, and when they come to a boil, stir in the meatballs. Once the mixture comes back to a boil, add the pasta, parsley, oregano, basil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and stir well.
  • Turn the heat to medium and place the lid on the pot, letting it simmer for five minutes.
  • Remove the lid and stir, and continue to let the soup cook at a slow boil for six to seven minutes or until the noodles are cooked to your liking.
  • If the soup is too thick, add additional broth or water until the soup reaches your desired consistency. When the soup is heated back through, serve topped with parmesan.

This turned out really well. It was thick, hearty and full of great Italian flavor. It was perfect for dinner, but it would have been a great option for lunch with a small cup of soup alongside a grilled cheese sandwich or a big slice of garlic bread, too.

I ended up leaving my soup a bit on the thick side, and as it cooled, it turned into more of a pasta sauce than a soup, so my leftovers will be getting more liquid when I reheat them.

But the main thing is that I managed to quickly get a hot meal on the table that we both enjoyed, even while I kept tossing improvised ingredients into the pot. Sometimes being in a hurry means eating something terrible for dinner, but every once in awhile, it makes for a great meal.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 15, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Chop, chop! It’s time for a fabulous pork dinner

Pork chops in creamy wine sauce looks, tastes and sounds fancy, but it’s actually very simple to make and is a decently quick dinner, too. It’s really good along side mashed potatoes.

I was listening to a podcast this week about a scammer who managed to get millions of dollars out of his marks by pretending to be a Saudi Arabian prince.

In one case, he was found out because he ordered a dish with pancetta in it at a restaurant, and since his dining companion knew a devout Muslim would never eat pork, he started becoming suspicious.

I get it. There are certain dishes I think I would mindlessly order, too, even if I were trying to trick someone with a secret identity—especially if it had to do with chocolate. The temptation is real.

I was thinking about that story while I made this week’s recipe, and I can tell you this should be on your “must try” list, as long as you are able to eat pork products, because it was amazing and super easy to make.

This comes from the blog, “What’s In The Pan?” You can find the original post at https://whatsinthepan.com/pork-chops-in-creamy-white-wine-sauce/. I added a bunch of seasonings and extra garlic to my version.

Print

Pork Chops in Creamy Wine Sauce

Pork chops in creamy wine sauce looks, tastes and sounds fancy, but it’s actually very simple to make and is a decently quick dinner, too. It’s really good along side mashed potatoes.
Course Main Course
Keyword 30-minute meal, basil, boneless pork chops, chicken broth, chicken stock, garlic powder, heavy cream, lemon juice, minced garlic, onion powder, oregano, parsley, pork chops, thyme, white wine

Ingredients

Pork Chop Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • leftover flour mixture from pork chops
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine I used pinot grigio
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • On a plate or in a bowl large enough to fit a pork chop, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Dredge each pork chop in the flour mixture, making sure to get a solid coating on both sides and the edges. (Don’t toss the flour. You’re going to use it for the sauce.)
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the pork chops. Cook them on each side for about three or four minutes until they’re nicely browned and the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and cover them to keep them warm while you make the sauce.
  • For the sauce, melt butter over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute until it’s lightly browned and fragrant and stir in about one tablespoon of the flour mixture from the pork chops, or enough to soak up all the butter. Saute for one to two minutes to cook the flour, and then slowly whisk in the wine, 1/2 cup chicken stock and heavy cream, along with the lemon juice and seasonings. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens to your liking. If it gets too thick, loosen it up with a little more stock.
  • When the sauce is how you want it, reduce the heat to low and add the pork chops and any accumulated juices back to the pan, dousing them with the sauce. Once the pork chops are heated back through, serve immediately.

We enjoyed our pork chops along with mashed potatoes, and the wine sauce was amazing poured over the whole dish. I also added fresh basil to my sauce, because I happened to have some on hand, so if you want to kick yours up a notch, I highly recommend that, too.

The sauce was creamy and really flavorful, and I will absolutely make this again—hopefully soon. It’s one of those dinners that feels like it was a lot more effort than it really was. In all, I probably had dinner on the table in 30 to 40 minutes.

If you’re in the mood for something that looks fancy without being a pain to cook, make sure you keep this recipe on hand. Just remember not to make it in the case of certain scams you may be pulling; you don’t want to end up the subject of a podcast.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 8, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Exit mobile version