Categories
Salad Side Dish

There’s a kernel of summer flavor in this pasta salad

Mexican street corn pasta salad uses lots of fresh vegetables to create a flavor profile reminiscent of elote. It’s an excellent side dish for a summer meal.

When the Mexican American Fastpitch Softball Tournament rolls into Newton every summer, Joey and I try to make it out to watch a few hours of the action.

The games are definitely entertaining, but if I’m being honest, I’m mostly there for the food. Trying to pick what to eat from the various vendors is sometimes tough to do. Everything looks and smells amazing.

A couple summers ago, I decided to get elote, which is a roasted ear of corn, slathered in seasoning and mayonnaise and crumbly cheese. Trust me. It’s delicious.

I was thinking about that elote when I ran across this week’s recipe for a Mexican street corn pasta salad. It features a lot of the same flavor profiles, but it’s a bit easier to eat without making a huge mess.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Female Foodie” by Tyler Anastasio. You can find the original post at https://www.femalefoodie.com/recipes/mexican-street-corn-pasta-salad/#recipe. I added extra jalapeno, cheese and garlic in my version and changed up the instructions just a bit.

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Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Mexican street corn pasta salad uses lots of fresh vegetables to create a flavor profile reminiscent of elote. It’s an excellent side dish for a summer meal.
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword adobo peppers, chipotle peppers, cilantro, cojita, ditalini pasta, fresh cilantro, fresh corn, fresh garlic, frozen corn, green onions, jalapeno, lime juice, lime zest, mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, queso fresco, sour cream

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces ditalini pasta or another small pasta
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeno seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1 bunch green onion sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch cilantro roughly chopped
  • 10 ounces queso fresco or cotija cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sour cream I used fat free
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 to 3 whole chipotle peppers packed in adobo
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • zest from one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain it and rinse it with cold water, and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once it’s hot, add the corn to the skillet and stir regularly, getting a light char on the kernels. Add the garlic into the pan and saute for just about a minute, and then remove the skillet from the heat. Set it aside to cool.
  • Prepare the jalapeno, green onion and cilantro and add it to a large serving bowl. Crumble in almost all of the cheese, keeping back a handful to top the salad when you’re done.
  • Combine all of the dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and process until it is smooth.
  • Add the pasta, cooled corn and dressing to the serving bowl, and stir it well. Stir in any additional salt and pepper, if desired. Refrigerate the pasta salad until it’s completely chilled. Just before serving, top with the reserved cheese.

I really liked this, and even Joey, who is a notorious mayonnaise hater, liked the dressing, so you know it had to be pretty good. This will be an especially good pasta salad to put together once everyone’s gardens begin producing this summer.

And if you’re afraid of the jalapeno, you can easily leave it out. It does add a very nice crunch, though.

I’m also not going to pretend that this pasta salad is a perfect recreation of elote, but it does scratch the itch. You can bet, though, once July rolls around, I’ll be on the lookout for the real thing once again.

This piece first appeared in print on May 23, 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

‘Hoi’ can’t recommend these Mongolian noodles enough

Mongolian beef noodles are easy to prepare and take fewer than 30 minutes from start to finish to get on the table. The addition of hoisin sauce gives it a sweet and savory flavor that makes seconds a must.

In an interview with the Food Network, Chinese food expert Nadia Liu Spellman explained hoisin sauce, a condiment that is new to my refrigerator as of this week.

“I would call it the ketchup of Chinese cuisine, because it’s used as an ingredient but also as a finishing sauce and condiment,” Liu Spellman said in the interview. “Hoisin sauce looks like dark brown ketchup but not as viscous; it’s thicker and pastier. It’s sweet at the start and savory at the end.”

I purchased my first bottle of hoisin for this week’s recipe, and since I had not knowingly ever tasted it before, I was going in blind on what the flavor profile would be.

Of course, knowing that I like soy sauce, garlic and ginger didn’t hurt anything.

The good news is I really liked hoisin, and now I’m excited to see what other applications it has—although I’ll likely be using it to make this week’s recipe again, because it was great.

This recipe was posted on Instagram by Kirk Muenzenberger. His page is @kirkscookingandcocktails, if you want to see the original. I added extra garlic and pasta in my version.

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Mongolian Beef Noodles

Mongolian beef noodles are easy to prepare and take fewer than 30 minutes from start to finish to get on the table. The addition of hoisin sauce gives it a sweet and savory flavor that makes seconds a must.
Course Main Course
Keyword 30-minute meal, fresh ginger, ginger paste, ground beef, hoisin sauce, minced garlic, pasta, quick meals, spaghetti

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces long pasta I used whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds and green onion for garnish

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth/stock
  • 5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Boil the pasta according to package directions and drain.
  • While the pasta cooks, brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until it is cooked through. Strain off as much fat as possible, and add in the ginger paste and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce. Add the sauce to the skillet, stirring to combine. (The sauce will look very loose at this moment. Don’t worry. It will thicken up.) Continue to stir until the sauce bubbles gently and begins to thicken.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta until it is well coated, and continue stirring until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Serve with sesame seeds and fresh sliced green onion, if desired.

I will absolutely be making this again. It came together in well under 30 minutes, all told, and it was just slightly sweet, a bit spicy and very good. The next time, though, I will dice up a red bell pepper and cook that down with the ground beef. I think it would be a great addition for flavor, color and vitamins.

And now that I have “the ketchup of Chinese cuisine” in my refrigerator, the world is my oyster.

Actually, I’m not sure it’s good on oysters. I might have to do some more research.

This piece first appeared in print on May 16, 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
Cookies Dessert

Turn over a new leaf with basil lemon sugar cookies

Basil lemon sugar cookies are the perfect combination of fresh herb and citrus flavors, paired with a light sweetness. They are a great summer treat or great for teatime, too.

Something I probably haven’t mentioned often is that I have a constant helper in the kitchen when I try recipes for this column.

Sometimes she gets to sample something, and sometimes she is informed that the particular creation at hand is “not good for puppies.”

Regardless, our 15-year-old schnauzer, K.C., hopefully follows me around the kitchen or gazes at me from a good napping spot, hoping I will be clumsy enough to drop something or gracious enough to share.

Often, she gets lucky, and this week’s recipe is one of her favorite kinds: one that only uses half an egg. Because guess who gets to eat the other half?

As far as the recipe itself, there was no schnauzer taste testing, because once I tried one of the cookies I made this week, I barely wanted to share them with any of my beloved humans, let alone my sweet dog.

This week’s experiment comes from the blog “The Deeper Living.” You can see the original post at https://www.thedeeperliving.com/blog/lush-lemon-basil-sugar-cookies. I doubled the amount of basil sugar for coating in my version below.

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Basil Lemon Sugar Cookies

Basil lemon sugar cookies are the perfect combination of fresh herb and citrus flavors, paired with a light sweetness. They are a great summer treat or great for teatime, too.
Course Dessert
Keyword fresh basil, fresh lemon, lemon zest, sugar cookies, teatime

Ingredients

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves stems removed
  • 1 cup two sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 heaping teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Basil Sugar Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • about 12 fresh basil leaves stems removed

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  • Starting with the cookie ingredients, pulse the sugar and basil leaves in a food processor or blender until the leaves are completely pulverized, and the sugar is a bright green color.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter for one to two minutes until it is a light yellow color.
  • Add in the basil sugar you created and beat again for about two minutes, making sure everything is well incorporated and the butter is a light green shade.
  • Beat in the vanilla, lemon zest, egg and egg yolk for another two to three minutes until the mixture is smooth.
  • Leaving your mixer on a low speed, add the dry ingredients—flour, baking soda and salt—a little at a time, making sure it is just combined but not over mixing it.
  • Make the basil sugar for coating the cookies in the same way you made the mixture for the cookie batter, and pour it into a shallow bowl.
  • Using a one-inch (two-tablespoon) cookie scoop, scoop out the cookie dough and drop the balls of dough into the basil sugar, rolling each lightly to coat it in a thin layer of sugar, and then place them on the prepared baking sheet, at least two inches apart (they will spread).
  • Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are very lightly browned (they’ll finish setting up out of the oven). Remove the cookies from the oven and let them rest until they’re cool enough to handle (about 5 minutes) before transferring them to an airtight container.

OK, so I know these sound a bit scary at first. Basil is, after all, generally a savory ingredient. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that these are delicious. The basil and lemon meld well, and the basil sugar is so good that I made an extra batch to rim glasses for some cocktails over the weekend.

These cookies sort of taste like something that would be perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea. They’re unlike anything I have ever had, and I was absolutely on board with it.

So was K.C., after she cleaned up the egg white from her dog bowl. Her opinion was I should have made a double batch, but I suspect that was a self-serving request.

This piece first appeared in print on May 9, 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

Cheese, spinach are the stuff dinner dreams are made of

Spinach stuffed chicken features tons of flavor from feta and cream cheese, along with garlic and loads of herbs and spices.

On most days, Joey and I work in the same newspaper office or together from home. Every once in awhile, though, we go our separate ways.

Recently, when we had such a day, Joey shot me a text, “Hey, it’s been a really long day. Do you mind figuring out dinner for tonight?”

Challenge accepted.

We often cook together or take turns making meals, so I was happy to oblige. After a quick trip to the grocery store (and my Pinterest board), I landed on a recipe for spinach stuffed chicken breasts that I had my eye on for awhile.

This comes from the blog “Basil and Butter.” You can find the original post at https://basilandbubbly.com/spinach-stuffed-chicken-breasts/. I added extra garlic and extra seasonings to my version, along with adding filling ingredients.

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Spinach Stuffed Chicken

Spinach stuffed chicken features tons of flavor from feta and cream cheese, along with garlic and loads of herbs and spices.
Course Main Course
Keyword basil, chicken breasts, cream cheese, feta cheese, frozen spinach, minced garlic, onion powder, oregano, parsley, spinach, stuffed chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 12 ounces chopped frozen spinach
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Prepare the spinach according to the package directions and squeeze out as much moisture as you can from it.
  • Add it to a mixing bowl, along with the feta, cream cheese, garlic, onion powder, parsley, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and mix well to combine. Set it aside.
  • Carefully cut a pocket into each chicken breast. To do so, place each breast flat side down on a cutting board, and press it down with a large spoon or spatula while you cut a slit lengthwise into the side, making sure not to cut all the way through to the other side. (Think pita pocket.)
  • Stuff each breast with as much of the filling as you can (if you have some left over, add it to a small, oven-safe bowl to make some fabulous cheese dip). Season each breast with salt and pepper.
  • In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Once it’s hot, add the stuffed chicken breasts and cook for five minutes on one side. Flip them over, and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, checking the internal temperature of the breasts after the first 10 minutes. Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees, remove it from the oven and serve. (If you made a side of the extra filling, just bake it until it’s hot all the way through and slightly browned on top.)

This was decadent and delicious. I will suggest that if you have a smaller chicken breast in the pan that comes up to temp before the others that you remove it from the oven so it doesn’t overcook and get dry.

Also, honestly, if you want an appetizer or something vegetarian, skip the chicken altogether, throw the entirety of that filling into a glass dish to bake, and serve it with some chips or crusty bread. It was absolutely delicious, and it reheated well as leftovers, too.

I sometimes forget how lucky I am to have a partner who is an excellent cook and has no problem shouldering the kitchen load with me. Hopefully, some tasty meals like this one let him know just how thankful for him I am.

This piece first appeared in print on May 2, 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

Prepare a honey of a meal for dinner this week

Honey garlic chicken is a great combination of just a little sweetness with plenty of savory flavor from chicken thighs, garlic and bell pepper.

One of the most popular questions I get from people when they find out I write a recipe column is whether I have had any food fails when trying new dishes.

The answer is a resounding yes.

And if you were to ask me what the biggest fail of all time was, I would, without hesitation, tell you about a honey lime crockpot chicken I made nearly a decade ago. It still haunts me.

It was so disgusting that Joey and I begrudgingly threw it out. There was no saving it. It tasted like somebody tried to combine candy and chicken into one dish. It was positively awful.

Since that experience, any time I see a recipe that has “honey” and “chicken” in the title, I get a little flashback and wonder if I will be making another huge mistake if I give it a try.

This week, I decided to take the plunge anyway. Thankfully, no chicken ended up in the garbage, and we ended up with a tasty dinner and some leftovers, to boot.

This comes from the blog “Kitchen Sanctuary” by Nicky Corbishley. You can find her original post at https://www.kitchensanctuary.com/honey-garlic-chicken/. I added vegetables and a ton of extra garlic to my version.

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Honey Garlic Chicken

Honey garlic chicken is a great combination of just a little sweetness with plenty of savory flavor from chicken thighs, garlic and bell pepper.
Course Main Course
Keyword bell pepper, chicken thighs, garlic, honey, minced garlic, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 1 large bell pepper diced (any color)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion diced
  • 6 to 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced into one-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Cooked rice for serving
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes optional

Instructions

  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onions, and saute until they are cooked through.
  • Remove the peppers and onions from the skillet and place them in a bowl to the side.
  • While the vegetables cook, prepare the chicken thighs. Mix the cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl, and then add the chicken thighs, tossing until the cornstarch mixture is well distributed.
  • When the veggies are done, add the other two tablespoons of oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the chicken to the skillet, and saute until it is browned on all sides and fully cooked through (165 degrees internal temperature).
  • Turn the heat back to medium and prepare the sauce.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, chicken stock, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.
  • Next, toss the butter and garlic into the skillet, stirring to melt the butter and saute the garlic. Once the garlic is lightly browned and fragrant, stir in the sauce and the peppers and onions. Let the sauce come to a low boil and then simmer for several minutes until the sauce reduces.
  • Serve over rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds and chili flakes.

This had a good savory sweetness that we really enjoyed. If you leave out the chili flakes, it has no spice whatsoever and should be a good crowd pleaser.

I made my white rice with chicken stock instead of water to add a little more flavor, and I even threw in both regular and black sesame seeds and sliced green onions to try to make it look fancy.

I was so glad this wasn’t a horrible sequel to my honey lime chicken experiment. I’m sure I’ll have a major kitchen fail again sometime in the future, but luckily, this wasn’t the time.

This piece first appeared in print April 25, 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

‘Lei’ the foundation for a delicious grilled chicken

Spatchcock Polynesian chicken can be made on the grill, in the smoker or in the oven and features a slightly sweet sauce that turns into a fabulous glaze.

As soon as the weather starts to warm up, it’s time for Joey and me to start going through all the grilling recipes he sent me over the winter.

The first one up is this week’s recipe, which features a Polynesian-inspired sauce over a spatchcock chicken.

If you’re not familiar with spatchcocking, it’s a technique for cooking whole chicken that lets you flatten the bird out, and it cooks more evenly and quicker. It feels a little weird to do the first time—like you’re performing some sort of surgery—but after you cook a chicken that way the first time, you’ll be sold.

The recipe we tried comes from the Sanderson Farms company page and was created as a collaboration with a couple influencers, “The Grill Dads.” You can find the original recipe and their video at https://sandersonfarms.com/recipes/spatchcock-polynesian-chicken/. I added extra garlic in my version.

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Spatchcock Polynesian Chicken

Spatchcock Polynesian chicken can be made on the grill, in the smoker or in the oven and features a slightly sweet sauce that turns into a fabulous glaze.
Course Main Course
Keyword barrel smoker, brown sugar, ceramic grill, chicken, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, garlic powder, grill, ground ginger, honey, lemon juice, lime juice, pellet smoker, Polynesian, smoked meat, smoker, soy sauce, spatchcock, whole chicken

Ingredients

Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 whole frying chicken
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated (or ginger paste)
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • To prepare the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels and then flip it to breast side down on a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, starting from the tail side of the chicken, carefully cut out the backbone by cutting closely on both sides of it. Set the backbone aside for another use or discard it.
  • Flip the chicken back over, and using the heels of your hands, press down in the middle of the chicken, right on the breast bone, to make it flatten out. (You should hear a little pop.)
  • Place the chicken onto a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix the salt, sugar, garlic powder and ground ginger.
  • Rub the spice mixture over the whole bird, making sure to get in crevices and even getting some under the skin, if you can. Place the chicken, uncovered, in the refrigerator over night or for at least eight hours. (We want the skin to dry out a bit so it will crisp up.)
  • The sauce can be made now or while you wait for the chicken to cook the next day.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring the mixture to a low boil. Let it continue to boil for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Once the sauce is reduced, remove it from the heat and set it aside.
  • To cook the chicken, preheat your grill, smoker or oven to about 350 degrees. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, and then place it, breast side up, directly on the grate of your grill or smoker or on the rimmed baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 140 degrees.
  • Using a basting brush, coat the exterior of the chicken in the sauce, and continue to cook the chicken for about 15 more minutes, basting every 5 minutes, until the meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees.
  • Pull the chicken from the oven, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. If you have leftover sauce, use that for serving, and serve the chicken along with the sides of your choice.

This was slightly sweet and had a nice, crispy skin on it from our smoker. Joey and I agreed that it would have been delicious out of the oven, too, though, so if you’re not much for outdoor cooking, definitely try it inside.

We ate our chicken with some brown rice, and it was really good. We also had plenty of leftovers, which was nice.

And now that it’s officially grilling season, I’ll have to go digging back through my summer recipes to see what other experiments I can sweet talk Joey into.

This piece first appeared in print on April 18, 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
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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