Monthly Archives: March 2012

Goo-oood Gravy! Sausage Gravy? Done!

White gravy, the kind of biscuits and gravy fame has been a thorn in my side my entire cooking life.  I can make you a brown gravy or turkey gravy that will make you wanna slap your momma it’s so darn good, but white gravy? Mine turned out tasting more like school paste than down home white gravy with sausage. A few months ago I made a batch that was better than any before (I didn’t have to throw it out). Tonight, biscuits with sausage and gravy were the dinner plan tonight so I decided to tackle this back monkey again instead of cheating and buying a package or jar of the stuff. Amazingly,

I DID IT!

I managed to make really, no I mean, REALLY good sausage gravy! Woot!

Here’s what I did.

I used  turkey sausage patties, chopped up four patties in about 1/4 cup of heated canola oil and browned it really good. I added 1/4 cup of flour and cooked the pasty smell out of it (it smells toasty and yummy when it’s right). Then I whisked in 1 cup of 2 percent milk and added more milk until I had the consistency I wanted. I added 3 or 4 pinches of kosher salt and about 1/2 tsp of fresh coarse ground black pepper. I tasted tested it and it was salty enough but missing something. So I added my favorite new seasoning tool. Magi Sauce. It took just three shakes and the taste was perfect. Perfectly delicious! Next time, I’ll make it with fresh sausage instead of precooked patties, and I’ll probably use turkey again because the taste is still on point, and I save some calories than the full fat pork variety.

So dinner success. Better yet, sausage gravy success. I no longer have to hold my head in shame about my inability to make this yummy gravy that is a must for biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken and gravy.

Mmmmm! Sausage Gravy! Oh My!

Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • About 1/2 pound of any breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (less if using pork sausage which has more fat than turkey)
  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 3 or 4 pinches of kosher or sea salt (1/4 teaspoon each so 1 to 1-1/2 tsps?)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1  to 1-1/2 cups milk (you can chose your fat level here as well, whole, 2%, skim; your decide)

I always do gravy by “taste, smell, and feel.” This means the list of ingredients is approximates. I personally don’t care for the really thick gravy you can stand a spoon up in. I like mine a little thinner so this is where the “feel” comes in. Taste is the most important and I always have a finger tasting spoon on hand to test the flavors. Why I couldn’t get my spidey senses around white gravy is a mystery.

Thankfully, that has come to an end.

Mama’s Mad Scientist’s T.B.B.E. Bread

My mom made a New Years Resolution in 2011. I know weird, huh? She committed to making all of her bread for an entire year. Loaves, dinner rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns. The icing on her cake is the most awesome cinnamon rolls known to mankind but that’s another post. We are talking bread here. A year without purchasing a single loaf. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Not only did she accomplish a year, but she is still going! Yay Momma!

In that year, she perfected her bread recipe and boy oh boy is it good. I recently asked her to send it to me so I could make a batch and she did, but the first list of ingredients was off a bit because she does it on auto pilot and typed teaspoon instead of tablespoon and the first batch was tasty but the loaves were small and brick-ish. After some further consulting and reviewing and double checking, we got the ingredients ironed out and the second batch was Fa – bu – LOUS!

I raved and bragged about my delicious bread and received many requests for the recipe and with Mama Mad’s blessing I am bestowing it on you who chose to click on the link and be lucky enough to find one of the best bread recipes EVER. A good stand mixer is an awesome plus here, but it can certainly be done with a hand mixer and muscle.

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Left loaf = ingredient error. Then 3 correct ingredients and perfect light loaves.

T.he B.est B.read E.vah! (T.B.B.E.)

  • 1-1/2 cups very warm water
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 4 Tablespoons rapid rise dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup corn oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 eggs (room temp. and beaten)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons gluten
  • 3 cups flour

Directions:

In your mixer bowl (or a large mixing bowl) combine all ingredients and mix just until all of the ingredients come together. (yep, throw the yeast and all into the bowl) Then let it stand until it’s bubbly and double in size. (This takes approximately 20 minutes)

** To make this a sweeter dough for hamburger, hotdog buns or sweet dinner rolls, use 1 cup of buttermilk & reduce water to 1-1/2 cups. Not sure why the dough is sweeter but it is & it’s good everyday loaf bread as well.

After the mixture has doubled, in a small bowl combine:

  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoon vinegar (white or cider)

This gets good and foamy. Immediately add it to the yeast starter mixture and start your mixer. Then, ; add 7 to 8 cups of flour one cup at a time. (Your mixer will want to go crazy and throw flour all over the kitchen if you don’t take it slow)

Add flour until the dough is barely sticky to the touch. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 3 minutes. Add additional flour to keep dough from sticking to the counter and until the dough itself is no longer sticky.

Place dough into a large greased bowl and cover. Let it rise at least 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch it down, cover and rise a second time. Start your oven (see last line) here to be sure it’s heated and the warm stove top helps the bread rise after you cut into loaves.

Punch down after second rise, then cut into 4 loaves and place in greased loaf pans. (You can also make pull apart dinner rolls. Use two 9×13 cake pans. Or roll the dough out and make cinnamon rolls. Yep. Another post Open-mouthed smile) Cover the loaves and allow to rise 1/2 way up the pan.

Bake 25 minutes at 365 degrees in glass pans or 375 degrees in metal pans.

Who Want’s Whole Wheat? Bread

Loaves and dinner rolls. Mmm, mmm, GOOD!

In my last post, I shared my Mad Scientist Momma’s bread recipe. It is so good and I really wanted to have a whole wheat version that would be equally as good so I set about adapting my Mom’s already awesome recipe.

Whole wheat, homemade, has a tendency to be heavy and dense and just “OK”. What I came up with is really good. I’m bragging and stating a fact. Mom gave me good “bones” in her recipe so making a few changes here a tweak there was easy and obvious.

I have a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer which is really a great tool for making this bread. Any good stand mixer with a big enough capacity bowl will do the job, or you can go old school and use a hand mixer until you start adding flour to stiffen up the dough.


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Who Wants Whole Wheat? Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups very warm water
  • 4 Tablespoons rapid rise dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs (room temp and beaten)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup gluten
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour

OPTIONALTo make heartier denser bread add a 1/4 cup of wheat germ or use:

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup boiling water

In a small bowl, pour boiling water of bulgur, stir and let stand at least 5-10 minutes. Drain any excess water.

In your mixer bowl (or a large mixing bowl) combine all ingredients (including bulgur if you are using that option) . It’s OK, really. Just throw the yeast and everything right into the bowl. Now run the mixer (Paddle attachment) just until the ingredients come together. Then let it stand until it’s bubbly and double in size. (This takes approximately 20 minutes)

After the mixture has doubled, in a small bowl combine:

  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 Tablespoon cider vinegar

This gets good and foamy. Immediately add it to the yeast starter mixture and start your mixer. Then, add 7 to 8 cups of flour one cup at a time. Take my word for this, you don’t want to add a bunch all at once, otherwise your mixer will go all Mad Scientist on you and you’ll have a whole wheat kitchen if you don’t take it slow.

Add flour until the dough is still pretty sticky. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 3 minutes. Add additional flour sparingly. This dough forms much better if it’s still a little sticky when you are done kneading.

Place dough into a large greased bowl and cover. Let it rise aproximately 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch it down, cover and rise a second time. Start your oven (see last line) now to be sure it’s heated. The warm stove top helps the bread rise after you cut into loaves.

Punch down after second rise, then cut into 4 loaves. I go all kitchen nerd here and use a kitchen scale so the loaves are uniform in size. Place the loaves in greased loaf pans. You can also make pull apart dinner rolls. Probably use two 9×13 cake pans.

Bake 25 minutes at 365 degrees in glass pans or 375 degrees in metal pans.

Now go get a stick of REAL butter and slather a slice up and enjoy.

A Delicious Afterthought

A couple of days ago I purchased a package of chicken legs with the idea I was going to crock pot them for dinner. I forgot Friday was the next day (Catholic here, no meat Fridays during Lent), Saturday came and I forgot to put the legs in the pot. Hubby, My Captain, offered to grill them then decided to order pizza.

Today was the day and My Captain reminded me early enough to get them in the pot for dinner. Dropped them in, covered them in BBQ sauce, a little kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, plop the lid on and walk away. Right? Well, no. Lid on. Walk away. Then Mad Scientist wheels start turning.

I thought, it would sure be nice to have this be more than just the chicken, so I grabbed a can of black beans, dumped them into a colander, rinsed well, then poured a generous amount of BBQ sauce over the beans – IN THE COLANDER – sprinkled some chopped dried onions over then tossed to cover the beans. Then I put those beans in the crock pot and, walked away. Really. I walked away this time. Went to the gym and left it alone.

The end result was so darn good! Those beans were like baked beans slaved over and cooked in the oven in a fancy schmancy bean pot.

Give this a try the next time you are cooking chicken in the crock pot. I used my homemade BBQ sauce but any good quality store bought sauce will do the trick. (Sweet Baby Ray’s original is my personal favorite)

You want the recipe? OK. Not much to it, but here goes.

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Chicken with “Baked” Beans

Ingredients:

  • Chicken legs, thighs, breasts, wings, whatever you have (you decide how many you need or want)
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Canned Black Beans (you decide how many cans you need based on how much chicken and size of crock pot)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Dried Onions
  • Water

Directions:

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper then place chicken in crock pot / slow cooker arranging around the outside of the pot leaving the center open. Pour BBQ sauce over chicken to cover well. Rinse beans in colander then pour BBQ sauce over and toss/mix well. Sprinkle dried onions over then place beans in the center of crock pot / slow cooker. Add 1/4-1/2 inch of water to crock pot / slow cooker. This is important if you are cooking on high so you don’t dry everything out and then it would be yuck! Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, 2-4 hours on high.

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