Freezer Biscuits

I like to keep these homemade freezer biscuits on hand when I need some quick rolls to go with dinner. Mix them up, freeze for later , and cook them up in 20 minutes when you need them.

6 cups of flour 

2 tbls baking powder

2 tsp salt

1 tbls sugar 

4 cups heavy cream

Mix. Roll out to 3/4 inch thick. Cut out. Freeze on a covered cookie sheet. Once frozen, store in a gallon freezer bag. When you’re ready to bake, cook on 400 for 20 minutes. They’re delicious and fluffy.

Homemade Ranch Dressing in minutes 

Our family LOVES Ranch dressing. Granted it may not be the healthiest of choices but it’s our favorite dressing nevertheless.

My allergy kid has had to forego his  favorite Ranch dressing of late however, so I came up with a homemade mixture that I actually like better than the regular Ranch and that he will eat. So, it’s a win, win. I make it in small batches but you could make larger batches. I’d eat it within a week.

Homemade Ranch Dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise 

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp parsley 

Mix and add water until it reaches the desired consistency. If you want the dressing to have a longer shelf life then add distilled water rather than tap water. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Make Ahead Chicken Pot Pie

We had dinner guests planned for a Sunday afternoon a couple of months ago and I needed a make ahead meal. Chicken pot pie wouldn’t normally fall into that category but I’m pleased that I came up with a version that my whole family loved! I even liked it and I’ve never been a huge chicken pot pie fan.

This would be a great meal for holiday gatherings or when you are planning to have house guests as you can do all the prep in advance.

Here’s how I implemented my make ahead plan:

(Note: This made three 9-inch pies. So these proportions will feed a crowd. I even had some filling leftover that served as leftovers on top of egg noodles.)

Two Days Ahead: I cooked up a bunch of chicken leg quarters in my crockpot overnight so that I would have plenty of good meat and broth.

The Day before: I deboned my chicken and strained my broth. Then I assembled my veggies – garlic, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, corn and peas. I prepared the filling by sautéing the onions and celery in olive oil with salt and pepper. Then I added 4-5 minced cloves of garlic along with the carrots and potatoes. After those had sautéed for a few minutes I sprinkled on about 2-3 tbls of flour and stirred until the vegetable mix was coated and all the flour was absorbed. Then I poured my chicken broth over the mix and added 3 cups of heavy cream. I let it simmer for a few minutes until the sauce began to thicken. Then I turned off the heat and let it cool. The veggies don’t need to be cooked all the way through at this point as it will finish cooking the day of. Once cooled I poured it all in my big crockpot and stirred in my shredded chicken meat. Then it went in the fridge overnight.

Next I prepared the crust. I used a recipe for freezer biscuits that I modified to use as a pie crust topping instead. Mix 6 cups of flour, 2 tbls baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbls sugar and stir in 4 cups of heavy cream. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes after you’ve mixed it together. Then divide it in thirds and pat it out into three rough 10-inch circles about 1/2 inch thick. Be sure that the circles are big enough to go over the edges of your pie plate. Lay the dough out on cookie sheets and cover with wax paper or greased plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

The Day of: Pull the crock pot out of the fridge and set it to cook on high for about four hours. The veggies will finish cooking and then you’ll only need about 20 more minutes in the oven to cook the dough.

About a half our before you want to eat, fill your pie pans about 2/3 full with your hot, steamy filling from your crockpot. Add your frozen dough topper and cook each pie separately on 400 for 20 minutes. It’s not a bad idea to put a jelly roll pan under your pie plate just in case you accidentally overfill the pie plate and the sauce spills over like mine did. Your chicken out pie should cook up beautiful and tasty.

Now eat up and enjoy your guests! Your work is done.

Bagel French Toast

I was looking to make something special for breakfast the last snow day. I raided the freezer and pulled out a package of cranberry bagels. What could I make ahead with those? Hmmm. Baked French Toast it is.

Butter a casserole dish and line it with bagels. I broke mine open and scattered them about.

Mix up some French Toast batter. For a whole package of bagels you’ll need about 3 cups of milk, 6-8 eggs, 1 tsp of vanilla, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Mix it up. Pour it over the bagels. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Add some cream or milk in the morning if most of the liquid is absorbed and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until the mixture is set. Drizzle with syrup and enjoy.

(The other casserole pictured here is French Toast for my allergy kid who can’t have the regular stuff.)

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Saturday has become my baking day. I’ve been making the standard muffin recipe in my King Arthur Flour cookbook but I decided to change it up this week and the results were delicious.

Only two words are needed to sdescribe these muffins – Banana Blueberry! Mmmm.

This recipe makes about 12 muffins.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbl baking powder

2 cups blueberries

Mix dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl mix the following:

2 eggs

3/4 cups milk

1/4 cup oil

2 frozen bananas, thawed and mashed

Stir all the wet ingredients until well mixed. Add the wet to the dry stirring for about 20-30 seconds. The less you stir the less dense your muffins will be. 

Pour into muffin cups. I like to use reusable silicone cups which I spray with a little bit of olive oil. Bake at 400 for 20-22 minutes. 

I also made this same recipe with chocolate chips instead of blueberries and it was equally delicious. 

Winter Shepherd’s Pie

This is an alternate take on Shepherd’s Pie. I used a mix of chicken, chard and cauliflower with sweet potatoes on the top.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but it was quite good and flavorful. It’s a good way to use up meat from a leftover roasted chicken.

If you want to give it a try, here’s what I did….

Start by boiling 4 medium sweet potatoes in their skin (I like to cook mine ahead in the crock pot ). Next sauté a small chopped onion in light olive oil. When the onions are slightly translucent add six cloves of minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add finely chopped chard and cook until wilted. Then add chopped cauliflower. Add 3 cups pre-cooked shredded chicken. Sprinkle with 2 tbls of flour and stir until the flour has been absorbed by the oil. Then add 2 cups of chicken broth. Cook about 4-5 minutes or until thickened. Transfer the meat mixture to a casserole dish. Remove the skins of your cooked sweet potatoes and mash a fork adding 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 1/2-2 cups heavy cream. Spoon on top of your meat mixture and heat at 350 until heated through.

Eat up! Even my one year old loved it.

My favorite homemade bread

My favorite homemade bread couldn’t be easier. Get out your mixing bowls. It only takes a few minutes.

3/4 tbl. Active dry yeast

3/4 tbl. Sea salt

1.5 cups warm water

3 cups all purpose, whole wheat or spelt flour, plus a little extra for kneading later

Measure out the salt and yeast. Pour in the warm water and stir to dissolve. Measure out your flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is combined.

Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 1-1.5 hours. Empty dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough forms a smooth ball. This dough does best as a free form peasant loaf. Transfer the ball to a baking stone or cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. If time allows cover with a tea towel and let rise for another hour. When it’s baking time, preheat the oven to 400. Slit the top of the loaf several times with a serrated knife before putting in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Let the loaf cool some before serving. If you try to slice before it has cooled it will not hold it’s shape and will squish down as you cut into it.