Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cream-Filled Crepes with Blueberry Sauce

Sundays aren't included in the forty days of Lent, so I've been using blueberries frozen and hoarded from last summer to make special breakfasts. Even I think I erred on the side of sweet this past Sunday. We ate these for breakfast, but in the future, I think I'll reserve this recipe for guests, fancy brunches, or dessert. (Ha! Like I've EVER hosted a fancy brunch...)

Growing up, I always made, and still make, what we Johnsons called "Swedish Pancakes" for breakfast. We'd drown them in syrup or spread them with jam and eat them all rolled up in a coil. It turns out that our "Swedish Pancakes" were essentially other people's crepes, which are used for breakfast dishes and-- you guessed it-- desserts.

So, here's a sweet-lover's breakfast meal or a sourpuss's dessert. Either way, it's pretty decadent.

Cream Filling

8 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used light)
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (almond or lemon could be substituted)

Blend well and set aside.

And here's the Johnson recipe for Swedish Pancakes, or, if you're fancy, crepes. I doubled this amount to make about 8-10 pancakes of medium thickness.

3 eggs
1 and 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Whisk eggs and milk together. Sift dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture. Whisk until well-blended. Alter the amount of flour or milk depending on your desired consistency. Heat a lightly greased pan and add batter. The amount of batter you add depends on how thin you want your crepes/pancakes. For very thin pancakes, use 2 tablespoons batter for an 8-inch pan. I usually use more because they're easier to flip and handle for impatient people like me when they're a bit thicker, but don't make them so thick that they turn into rubbery regular pancakes. Lift and tilt pan to evenly coat the bottom with batter. Cook until top appears dry; turn and cook 15-20 seconds longer for thin pancakes. Keep warm in a slightly heated oven.

When the pan-crepes are finished, spread a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the center and fold from each side until the folded pan-crepe is rectangular in shape. If not serving immediately, place seam side down in a lightly greased baking pan and return to the warm oven, otherwise place on a plate and serve immediately with blueberry sauce spooned on top.

* A few alterations I may make next time:
The filling was quite rich and sweet. Don't misunderstand me; it was good, and we smacked our lips through breakfast, but next time, I might substitute half of the cream cheese with cottage cheese to lighten it up.

* I also might use less sugar in the berry sauce, to taste, but by then my sweet tooth could have adjusted in response.

Blueberry Sauce

Clarence Scrivner of Hartsburg, Missouri sent this recipe into a cookbook and called it Blueberry Sauce Supreme. Thanks, Clarence. It has a hint of orange due to the concentrate, and it works well over the crepes. Reduce the sugar if you desire, perhaps to 1/4 cup.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a saucepan, combine sugar, orange juice concentrate, and cornstarch; stir until smooth. Add blueberries and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes, stirring constantly. Spoon over crepes and serve.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

York-like Peppermint Patties

If you, like me, love York Peppermint Patties, then you'll love these candies. If you don't, then you won't, pure and simple.

Speaking of simple, this recipe is as simple a one for candy as they come, and soooo good (for those of you who love York Peppermint Patties, that is).

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
6 cups confectioners' sugar
Additional confectioners' sugar
1 - 12 oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips (I always use more than this, at least 18 oz, more often 24 oz to be safe)

1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening

In large mixer bowl, combine sweetened, condensed milk and extract. Add 6 cups sugar; beat on low speed until smooth and well blended. Mixture will be very stiff, and I often knead mine a bit with my (sticky) hands to incorporate all the sugar. Turn mixture onto surface sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Knead lightly to form smooth ball. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place
2 inches apart on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a flat-bottomed glass into a roughly 1 ½-inch patty.

Let dry 1 hour or longer; turn over and let dry at least 1 hour. Melt the
chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave until halfway melted. Stir halfway
through the heating time. Do not overheat or chocolate will scorch. If you want to take the time to properly temper the chocolate (which will prevent chocolate from "blooming," developing streaks, or losing its sheen), omit the shortening and melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler over low heat. [Follow online instructions for tempering chocolate, because I'm too tired to type them out at this late hour, and, to be honest, I'm usually too tired to temper the chocolate, too.] With fork, dip each patty into warm chocolate (draw fork lightly across rim of bowl to remove excess coating). Invert onto wax paper lined baking sheets; let stand until firm. Store covered at room temperature or in refrigerator. Makes at least 4 dozen.


Here's another simple candy recipe, only this time the flavor favors lovers of peanut butter. If you like peanut butter, you'll love this candy; if you don' get the idea, right?

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 and 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
confectioner's sugar (one pound, though I use less)
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (as with the mint patties, I melt more-- 1 and 1/2 to 2 bags, to make sure I've got enough)

Cream butter, p.b., and vanilla. Add enough confectioner's sugar until a good consistency is reached. Whatever you do, don't add sugar until you think the dough will be easiest to handle, because these candies are best when the filling is still soft enough to fool you into thinking it melts in your mouth. Add only enough sugar to make it possible to roll the dough into balls that will hold their spherical shape.

Roll into one-inch balls and place on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Melt the chips and shortening in an identical manner as in the peppermint patty recipe above, or be crazy, omit the shortening, and temper the chocolate like Martha would never fail to do. Dip the balls into chocolate and cover them about 3/4 of the way, either by using a toothpick poked into the top (which will leave a funny little hole) or by dipping them using a fork (which may leave some of the bottoms unevenly covered, unless you have a bonafide candy dipping fork, which I don't). Who needs a candy fork. These are yummy with or without even chocolate coverings, so go and make some. Now. And then give me some.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes

These are worthy of multiple breakfasts and taste like a dessert when served plain-- you'd never know they're full of wheat germ-- but when covered with plain yogurt that's been flavored with vanilla and sweetened with sugar, they're even better. Top THAT with sliced bananas, and you've got yourself something that you might start finding excuses to make more than once a week.

I lifted this recipe from a Bon Appetit reader named Kelsey. I can't give her more credit because I ripped it out of the magazine and left her full name behind. Thank you, Ms. Kelsey, or Kelsey Somebody-or-Other, whatever the name may be. (And for those of you who think I vandalized a magazine, it was my own magazine from the subscription sent me by a mysterious [mom-in-law] elf.)

I'm really happy to have discovered these pancakes for two reasons.
One- they are, quite simply, yummy, and could stand in for dessert
Two- they are, quite simply, healthy, and could stand in for, oh, I don't know, something healthy

They are not a fluffy pancake, mind you, and perhaps the title Griddle Cake would be more suitable, though they're made in a pan and not a griddle. I'm making no sense, I know, but it's very late...

Without further ado, here's the recipe.

1 and 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
5 tablespoons butter (I used only three tablespoons, and perhaps even less could be used)
1 and 1/3 cups flour (I used nearly 1 cup flour and substituted quick oats for the rest)
2/3 cup toasted wheat germ (I used raw wheat germ)
1 cup brown sugar (I used 3/4 of a cup)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 (generous) tsp. salt
1/4 (generous) tsp. nutmeg

1 and 1/2 cups diced fruit, optional, to mix into the batter (I just added fruit to the top of the cooked pancakes instead)

Stir water, oats , and butter, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook until mixture is very thick, stirring constantly, about five minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let sit 15 minutes or until cooled. Stir in flour (and quick oats, if substituting), sugar, wheat germ,. eggs, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Batter will be very thick. Mix in fruit, if desired.

Heat pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Melt a bit of butter in pan and drop batter onto griddle in 1/3 to 1/2 cup amounts (this will vary according the cook). Spread batter into rounds and cook until brown and cooked through, flipping halfway through.

Spicy Shrimp and Rice

I blame this dish on both John and Sarah. Last May, she served our family a yummy meal that had shrimp in it and casually mentioned that she'd bought the shrimp at Aldi. Now, I've eaten shrimp maybe four times in my life, and, though I think it's yummy, it's not something I browse through at grocery stores. I don't browse through grocery stores at all; I arrive with an agenda, fight my way through the hordes to reach what's on my list, and arrive back at the van, usually unharmed.

Last week, however, I saved money in other areas, and Saturday found me insecurely browsing through the shrimp in an Aldi freezer case, wondering if the least expensive shrimp were less healthy or tasty than the plump ones. Three cheers for stingy Ebenezer!

John's to blame, too, because after his employer sent him to a conference at a fancy hotel and paid for meals eaten at the restaurant of his choice, he's been mumbling about spicy shrimp in his sleep. So, thanks to Sarah's knowledge of all things seafood and John's nighttime murmurs, I trawled the internet recipe archives, made spicy shrimp and rice, and I even enjoyed it.

Below, I give the rough amounts of the spices I used, but after I adjusted spices to what I thought was the perfect amount, I shoveled in loads more cayenne and black pepper, because I knew that John would beam at me for it. He did, and that beam was worth the burn. If you or someone you love is like John, add even more cayenne, to taste. If you don't like things that spicy, reduce the amounts below accordingly.

a bag of cheap, foreign shrimp, the kind that's fully cooked and frozen (I think it was 10 or 12 oz of the teensy 70-90/lb shrimp )
1 tsp. cayenne, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
3/4 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
@ 6-8 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced or pressed
@ 1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup butter

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute the minced garlic in butter for 30 seconds to a minute. Add the rest of the spices, and stir in the thawed shrimp (remove their tails before you dump them in if you want to avoid removing them during supper). Cook until heated through and serve alongside the rice below.

4 and 1/2 cups cooked rice
After cooking, flavor the rice with at least one tablespoon lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne, salt, and butter, to taste. Add enough lemon juice to cut through the spice and to balance out the crazy-hot shrimp that are about to join it.

Eat while saying, "Ow! Good! OW! Too spicy! GOOD!" at your beaming husband.