Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Master Mix

In 1975 while in 8th grade I took my first cooking class. I loved that class, I loved everything about it; the rules, the cleaning, the homework, the teacher and class duties. I loved it all. I had Mrs. Romero, 6th period, 3 quarter and I got an A. A's were not easy for me to achieve and that made me love Mrs. Romero and Home-Eco Cooking class even more. I've kept my cooking notebook all these years. I always find myself going back to it for basic recipes. The pages are mostly printed from a Ditto machine and are fading so bad or have such badly stained pages you can barely read them. One recipe we were taught that seemed to be the mother of all recipes was The Master Mix. At the top of the recipe it says:

 "for biscuits, griddlecakes, muffins, waffles, gingerbread, cookies and cakes" 

Basically any recipe that called for Bisquick you could substitute equal amounts of the master mix and end up with the same results, but save money. It was the middle of the 70's rescission when I had this class and we were all about sitting in line for gas and saving a buck.

Before you make up this recipe you need an air tight container that hold at least 13 cups that fits in you pantry to store the mix. A Tupperware or Rubbermaid type container works great. The trick with using Master Mix in a recipe is to keep the mixing to a minimum. You'll have light biscuits and heavenly coffee cake as long as you don't over mix.  Get creative and experiment and you might find you love the results of Mrs. Romero's Master Mix as much as I do.

Ingredients -
9 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking powder
1 T. salt
2 teas. cream of tartar
4 T. sugar
1 cup nonfat dry milk
2 cups shortening which does not require refrigeration

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar, sugar and dry milk 3 times.
  2. Cut in shorting with pastry blender or two knifes until mixture looks like coarse corn meal.
  3. Store in covered containers at room temperature.

Note: To measure the master mix, pile it lightly into cup and level off with spatula.

Fresh Spinach Salad

     Easter doesn't happen at our house without this salad on the table. Our family has been eating this salad at Easter since 1987. We love the simpleness on a busy family day. It tastes as yummy as it looks. The dressing recipe comes from the Southern Living 1986 Annual Recipes cookbook. Back in the day most of my menus were planned from those cookbooks and the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Every new bride was given the red and white checkered Better Homes and Garden cookbook.
     The recipe was submitted by Edna E. Moore from Hueytown, Alabama and is on page 103 in that edition. The original recipe is a salad with the dressing. We have tweaked them both just ever so slightly to make them our own. The amount of bacon and hard boiled eggs you use is really up to you. I like the dressing made the night before so the bits of bacon can marinate in the dressing.

Salad Ingredients

8 to 10 slices of regular sliced hickory smoked bacon
1 pound fresh baby spinach, washed with the longer stems removed
3 or more hard boiled egg, chopped
1 1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms
3 green onions, thinly sliced


Cook bacon until completely crisp, but not over cooked. Crumble two pieces and set the remaining pieces aside for the dressing. In a large salad bowl combined spinach, mushrooms, onions, and eggs. Shake prepared dressing and apply the desired amount and lightly toss. Top with crumbled bacon before serving

Dressing Ingredients

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of fresh ground pepper
remaining pieces of cooked bacon

Combined oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a jar. Close lid tightly and shake vigorously; add bacon and mix well. If not using right away cover and store in your refrigerator. bring to room temperature before applying to the salad.
(I use a pint size canning jar with a rim and folded heavy duty foil for the lid.)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cabo Cookies

These cookies are perfect as desert after a good street taco. They taste like summer in the sun and feet in the sand. They're light and chewy, with just the right mix of sweet and tart. They're a good break from the basic's, nice and simple yet, fancy enough to serve at a gathering.

Ingredients ~

1 cup margarin (I'm on a lowering cholesterol kick right now)
1/2 cup coconut butter, soften but not melted (obviously I'm not on that big of a kick)
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
zest of 3 medium to small limes, finely minced (key limes are too small)
juice of 3 medium to small limes (equals about 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, finely chopped in a food processor (it's the normal kind from the normal store, nothing fancy)
5 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 batch of Creamy Lime Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350, line baking sheet with parchment paper, a baking liner or lightly spray with vegetable oil cooking spray.
Using the cookie paddles and large bowl of mixer, combine margarin, coconut butter, shortening, and sugar till light a fluffy; add eggs and vanilla, and mix well; add lime zest, lime juice and, minced coconut. Combined flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; scrapping the sides of the bowl as you mix. Dough should be light but easy to spoon out. 

The coconut absorbs a bit of the lime juice and is yummy, go ahead and sneak a taste. Do you taste the hint of lime in each little bite of coconut? Now have some self-control and bake up the rest of the dough, you've got to have something to put the wonderful frosting on.

Using a cookie scoop, place balls of dough about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. If you don't have a cookie scoop a spoon works just fine. My cookie scoop is a #40 which is equal to about 1 1/2 Tbls. The number of cookies you make will depend on the size of your scoop, but you knew that already. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven. Once baked remove from oven and leave on baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving to a opened up brown paper bag or paper towels to cool. Don't use a cooling rack, these are too delicate of cookies. Once completely cool top with Creamy Lime Frosting, recipe below.

Creamy Lime Frosting

Ingredients ~
1/4 cup soften butter
2 tablespoons coconut butter, soften not melted
1 lb powered sugar, sifted
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon of salt (a good pinch)
about 3 tablespoons of whipping cream ( the amount of cream you use will depend on the amount of juice from your lime

Mix together butter and coconut butter; add powdered sugar, lime zest and juice; scraping bowl as you mix. Add salt and whipping cream to sugar mixture. Continue mixing until frosting is well combine and smooth.  Enjoy on Cabo Cookies or a moist lime cupcake.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Tea Bread

I love this time of year with all the fresh fruit and vegetables coming into season. Sadly not everyone in my house enjoys it as much as I do. Some are not big fruit eaters and others avoid veggies like the plague, even sadder are the few who call rhubarb red celery. 

Yes, rhubarb looks like celery, and yes, out side the U.S. it is considered a vegetable, but according to a U.S. court in 1947 it is a fruit and in my book and fruit worth eating. 
I don't remember the first time I had rhubarb, but I remember the first time I enjoyed it, and enjoyed it so much it left me craving for more. 

Growing up in Southern California, Knott's Berry Farm was a part of my life. 
In those day's it was wonderfully old fashion with Ghost town, General Store,and the Birdcage Theater,
the Goldmine, burro rides,
and Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant.
It's not quiet the same today as it was then, back then all the food was fresh and tasted like your grandma had made it. There was no take out or fast food and the menu was always the same. You had a few choices and one was a side dish with you chicken dinner. 

Feeling experimental and loving cherries, one night I ordered the cherry rhubarb compote. It changed my feelings for rhubarb forever. The sweet tartness of the cherries was only enhanced by the tart flavor of the rhubarb, and I could not get enough. Finding others who shared my cravings has never been easy. When we moved in to our first house in Washington state and I noticed two rhubarb plants I knew it was my time to try to sway my families feelings about the beautiful, tart, red, celery like stuff. I have tried to sneak it into all sorts of things, but I am always found out, until this recipe. The trick is to chop the rhubarb up small and use the smaller tender stalks. Like and tuna salad sandwich without mayo, this bread would not be the same without the rhubarb. It brings a tart, moistness to the bread, that in my opinion can not be duplicated. So enjoy! 

2 eggs
½ cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup finely diced fresh rhubarb
¾ cup finely diced fresh strawberries
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Beat eggs until thick and foamy, slowly adding sugar, oil, and vanilla; 
beat about 3 more minutes. Mixture should be foamy and thick.
Gently fold in rhubarb and strawberries.
In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Sift into rhubarb and strawberry mixture and stir gently, just until blended. Do not over mix.
Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Bake at °350 for about 1 hour or until wooden toothpick inserted into center of bread comes out clean. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack
Top with powder sugar glaze.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mississippi Mud Brownies

These gooey, chewy brownies were introduced to us by Grandma Judy. If only they were calorie free, they would be perfect. The only complaint I've ever had about them is that I don't make them more often. There are three main ingredients, brownies, marshmallows and chocolate frosting. Play with the amounts until you get them the way you like. You may like a thick brownie or extra marshmallows. I have made these with regular marshmallows and marshmallow whip, homemade frosting and store bought, it all depends on what's in the cupboard when the mood grabs you. Get as fancy or as simple as your budget and time permits, no matter, they are always a big hit.
Ingredients ~
basic brownie recipe, or any brownie mix
10 oz bag of mini marshmallows
2 cups chocolate frosting, homemade or brand, it's up to you

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 15x11 jellyroll pan. A 9x13 baking pan can be use, but the brownies will be thicker. If you only have a basic half sheet baking pan then you''ll need to double the brownie recipe, but don't worry about doubling the other ingredients, you should still have enough. Don't worry about having too many, there is no such thing. Mix up brownies following the recipe or box instructions. Pour brownie batter in a jellyroll baking pan and bake at 350 for as long as instructed in recipe, minus 5 minutes. Did you get that? Bake them for 5 minutes less that the recipe instructs. Cover brownies with marshmallows and remember that marshmallows puff as the cook, so don't over pack them onto the brownies or you will have a mess in your oven. Cook for 5 more minutes or until marshmallows are puffy and just starting to golden. remove from oven. While the brownies are still slightly warm top with frosting, making sure to cover every bit. Don't frost too soon or the frosting will all melt. If you forget and frost after they are completely cool you will be OK, but your mud won't be quiet as muddy. I suggest using a pizza knife to cut them with and dipping it in warm water before starting to cut. If your frosting just peels off you waited too long to frost.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fruit Buckle

Peach Buckle made with home canned peaches

This could be called buckle and there are those who would call it cobbler. I call it Yum! Buckle is batter with fruit added and then a streusel topping added. As the batter of a buckle bakes it rises up around the fruit. Cobblers are made with the fruit mixture first then a biscuit type crust on top. Some buckles have heavy batters and others light; some have lots of topping others very little. This buckle is a light batter that needs no eggs and the only topping is a light sprinkling of brown sugar. It's cheap and easy to make. Any fruit can be used and if you like it can be a combination of fruit. Pick the fruit of your choice, apples, peaches, pears, plums and any berry, you decide. The fruit can be frozen, fresh or canned. Before being  measured, the fruit should be cleaned, drained, pealed and/or cut, all depending on the fruit.  Don't forget the ice cream or whip cream, or both to top it off.  I love this made with summer fruit and served at a barbecue with homemade ice cream or on a crisp fall evening as dessert after a warm homemade soup dinner. Really it's great any time of year.
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
3 cups prepared fruit
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter sides and bottom of a 9x13 or 2 quart baking dish. In a medium bowl combined sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; whisk in milk; add melted butter and  whisk until all blended. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle fruit on top off batter, trying to distribute evenly, Do Not Mix, Stir or Blend. Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar evenly over fruit and batter. Bake in 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Sprinkle remain 1/4 cup of brown sugar over top of buckle, then return to over and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipping cream.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gingerbread Man Pancakes

"Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man."  Oh yes we can and love we every bite!
These pancakes are a new favorite at our house. My grandsons will eat as many as I will make them. They're perfect for a yummy Thanksgiving breakfast when the family has gathered. They taste extra yummy served with applesauce and warm maple syrup. I use my wonderful pancake pen my daughter gave me for Christmas last year, a must for every mom and grandma, to draw perfect little men or whatever shape is requested, but if you don't have a pancake pen don't let that stop you from making these for you family.
 They are yummy no matter what shape you choose. I wish I had this recipe when my kids were little and doing the gingerbread man unit in kindergarten, but I have it for the grandkids and you bet we have fun eating them up.

1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk soured with lemon juice *
3 Tbs butter or margarine, melted
1 Tbs molasses
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
1/2 ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Butter or cooking spray for grilling
Raisins, crannies or chocolate chips for decorating

*(to make sour milk, pour milk into a liquid measuring cup so that you are just about 2 Tbs shy of 1 cup. Add 2 Tbs of lemon juice to the milk making 1 full cup. Set aside the milk while lightly beating the egg and melting the melting the butter. The milk should lightly curdle, or you can always use real sour milk or butter milk.)

Combine egg, sour milk, melted butter and molasses . Sift together remaining dry ingredients and add to egg mixture, stirring just until moist.
 Spoon or using a pancake pen shape pancakes on to hot , lightly greased griddle. Raisins, crannies or chocolate chips can bee used for eyes and buttons. Cook until tops are covered with bubbles, turn and cook other side. Serve with butter, warm syrup and apple sauce. Makes about 3 cups of batter.