DIY Crackers

buttery crackersWhy in the world would anyone make homemade crackers?

I’m bored.  No.  Absolutely no.   I am never bored.

I’m curious.  Maybe.


It’s snowing and I just made Chili Soup and I have no soup crackers.  Bingo!
 My roadI didn’t want to drive 10 miles on this road to get “crackers.”  Here is what I learned —  crackers are insanely easy to make AND they taste so much better than the store-bought.

buttery crackersLess than 1 hour start to finish. Also, sprinkling the dough with toppings like sea salt, kosher salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese or other spices really crank a cracker up a notch!

beautiful cracker doughThese crackers are made with flour, olive oil, sea salt.  Simple and inexpensive!  I used a food processor which made the mixing a snap. The dough came out perfect with little kneading necessary.

crackers cut
Really fun to see how easy it is to get to this point.  The hardest part of this recipe …. reading through the recipe!  I rolled the dough out on parchment paper so that it was very easy to move to the baking sheet.

Overcooked crackersThey bake fast.  In this case I took a phone call and when I turned around … over-baked.  I saved these because I know my Chief Cracker Taster happens to love toast and now crackers … a little “over-done.”

Round soup crackers
Since I wanted “soup crackers” I took time to cut out these little round peppered crackers.  I took the regular dough and kneaded in a teaspoon of pepper and these crackers are our favorites.  These crackers were made with butter instead of olive oil.  I didn’t prick them with a fork so they puffed a bit.  Just perfect.

homemade crackers on chili
On this cold, snowy day chili soup with homemade crackers was a warm and cozy hit!

Sweet treat crackersThe last of the dough I rolled thin, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  Dessert.

Since these crackers are all fresh ingredients with no preservatives they need to be eaten up within a couple of days or stored in the freezer.  We munched on them for snacks and put some in the freezer for another rainy (or snowy) day!

I highly recommend making homemade crackers.  I have included the two recipes I used.  You can dress ’em up to your liking!  You will wow your family and friends!

Happy Baking!
~Catherine

DIY Buttery Crackers
 
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Once you serve homemade crackers your family will never want to go back to store bought! These are insanely easy to make and fabulously delicious. Use your imagination to put your own flavor stamp on your crackers.
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 100 crackers
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour, plus more as needed
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature
  • ½ cup hot tap water, or as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse several times to combine. ** May add favorite spice or pepper at this time. With the machine running, add enough hot water to form a smooth, soft ball, stopping to check the texture before you add all of the water; you might not need all of it. (Alternatively, whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in the butter, then stir in the hot water.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead it quickly and lightly. Divide into fourths and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  5. Use the floured rolling pin to roll the dough out as thinly as possible on the work surface (re-flour as needed). Ideally, the dough should be translucent enough so that you can see the work surface underneath it. You can pick up the dough and rotate it as needed in between rollings, but don't turn it over.
  6. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour. Fold the dough carefully into 2 or 3 pieces, transfer it to a baking sheet and unfold it to cover the sheet. Use a pastry cutting wheel or sharp knife to quickly slice the dough into approximately 1½-inch squares (or smaller if desired) cutting the whole sheet in one direction first, then the other. Use the tines of a fork to prick each cracker several times. You can remove any trimmed-off pieces at the edges and re-roll them later, though they will be a little tougher in texture.
  7. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until the crackers turn golden and are light brown around the edges. (You might need to bake the crackers on the inside of the sheet a little longer, because they will not brown as readily.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat to use all of the dough.
  8. Cool completely before serving or storing.
Notes
Roll the dough out on parchment paper for ease of moving to baking sheet.
Serve with cheese as snacks, as appetizers or with an after-dinner cheese plate. They're also good with a variety of other toppings, or even unadorned. The recipe can be doubled.
** Crackers that seem a little tired after defrosting or a little past their prime can often be revived by a brief stay in a 300-degree oven.

 
DIY Olive Oil Crackers
 
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The hardest part of making these crackers is reading the recipe. These are insanely easy to make and delicious to eat!
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 100 crackers
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or a mix of all-purpose and whole grain flours
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional topping: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F: Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 450°F. Sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with flour and set aside.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in your food processor, pulsing on and off the flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Add the oil and water to the flour mixture. Mixing until a soft, sticky dough is formed. If a lot of loose flour remains in the bottom of the bowl and the surface of the dough, add more water a tablespoon at a time until all the flour is incorporated.
  4. Divide and shape the dough into a square: Divide the dough into two halves and set one half aside. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and set the other half on top. Pat it into a thick square with your hands.
  5. Roll out the dough: Working from the center of the dough out, roll the dough into a rectangle roughly ⅛-inch thick or thinner. If the dough starts to shrink back as you roll it, let it rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes and then continue rolling.
  6. Sprinkle dough with topping (optional): Brush the surface of the dough very lightly with water. Combine the seeds in a small bowl and sprinkle half of them (roughly 1½ tablespoons) evenly over the surface of the dough.
  7. Cut the dough into cracker-sized rectangles: Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into individual crackers roughly 1-inch by 2-inches (or smaller if desired.) Alternatively, cut the crackers into squares, diamonds, or use cookie cutters.
  8. Transfer crackers to baking sheet and prick with fork: Transfer the crackers to the baking sheet using a metal dough scraper or spatula. It's fine to crowd the crackers very close to each other. Prick each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent them from puffing during baking.
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes: Bake the crackers in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are browned. Thinner crackers will bake more quickly than thicker ones; you can remove the crackers as they brown to your liking and continue baking the rest. While the first batch of crackers is baking, roll out and cut the remaining dough.
  10. Cool and store the crackers: Transfer the baked crackers to a wire rack to cool completely. The crackers will crisp further as they cool. Store the crackers in an airtight container on the counter for 3-5 days. If you're crackers are a little old and less-than-crispy, lay them on a baking sheet and put them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes to re-crisp.
Notes
Roll dough on parchment paper for ease of movement to baking sheet.
Recipe from: The KITCHN
Other Ideas for Toppings: dried herbs, chili powder, pepper, sea salt

Pan Fried Steak and Carrots in Lemon-Parsley Butter

plated pan fried steak carrots
Happy Thursday!  Is it winter where you are?  Winter has really hit hard in Middle Tennessee the last two weeks.  Last week rain, sleet, and ice and last night … snow!  Beautiful snow. I know that snow isn’t a big deal for many of you.  But in my neck of the woods … it is a big deal!  This is only the second time in the last 5 years that I have been able to take pictures like these …

wagon snow trees
Or like this.

Snowy creekThe worst part for me is that I have missed Community Bible Study the last two weeks.  We meet on Thursday morning and we close when the schools close.  Well, the today and last Thursday school has been closed so we didn’t meet.


Cave spring lane snowy
I miss all my friends and classmates so much.  It is my prayer that if March arrives next week like a lion that lion is roaring with rain and not snow!

203
Wherever you are today I pray you are safe, warm, and well-fed.  I couldn’t decide which recipe comes first … steak or the carrots so I am posting both of them here!  I don’t usually pan fry steak because we have a BBQ grill.  However, last week when I had steak thawed ready to cook the weather was awful.  I had no inclination to run in and out of the house grilling steaks.  So, I decided it was time to pan-fry them.

fried onions
I could have just melted some butter, slapped the steaks in the pan and called it good.  I suspect they would have been edible.  But I wanted them to be fantastically edible!  I went searching on-line for a super recipe.  That is when I found this website called “Instructions.”  The recipe there included fried onions.

pan fried steak
One of the “instructions” was “how to pan-fry the perfect steak.”

panfried steak single
I didn’t realize there really are some steps to be taken to make the perfect steak.  I think the 7-steps are worth reading.  All-in-all my sous chef dish-washing mom and Chief Culinary Consultant both agreed the steak was “deliciously fantastic.”  That’s what I was going for.

parsley carrots fresh
A wonderful part of this wintry meal turned out to be these fresh carrots.  I had a bagful from a recent trip to the grocery store and from my Taste of Home cookbook I saw this recipe for carrots in lemon-parsley butter.  I didn’t have fresh parsley but I honestly think the dried stuff did a great job.

These carrots take no more than 20 minutes to make and are really worth the effort.  Just writing this blog post makes my mouth water.  I guess fresh carrots need to be on my grocery list again!

parsley carrots
Have a blessed wintry meal,
~Catherine

P.S.  Print this recipe, you are going to want to make these carrots!

Psalm 147:12-18

Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
    praise your God, Zion.

He strengthens the bars of your gates
    and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders
    and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

He sends his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool
    and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
    Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
    he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

Fresh Carrots in Lemon-Parsley Butter
 
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These fresh carrots really "pop" with color and over-flow with taste!
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable Side Dish
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs. fresh carrots, peeled and sliced
Lemon-Parsley Butter
  • ¼ cup butter, cubed
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 1½ teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Place 1 inch of water in a large saucepan; add the sliced carrots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer just until tender-crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain; set carrots aside.
  2. In the same pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in parsley, lemon juice and salt. Return carrots to the pan and heat through.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 117 Fat: 8 g Saturated fat: 5 g Carbohydrates: 12 g Sodium: 216 mg Fiber: 3 g Protein: 1 g Cholesterol: 20 mg.

 

 

Italian Cream Birthday Bake

59 cream cake
Middle Tennessee has been hit with full-on WINTER all in one week.  This week.  Ice. Snow. Rain. Sleet. Thunder. More Ice.  All this week.  The glorious result for me is that we have been home all week.  This may not sound great to you but for me, it is a blessing to have appointments cancelled.  The news man says “stay home.”  The weather woman says “it’s getting worse out there – stay home.”

Alice Cat Birthday Cake
I absolutely love being home!  So when ice and snow kept us indoors for my birthday my sous-chef-dish-washing mom and I hit the kitchen together!  I was telling her that I really, really like Italian Cream Cake but I’ve never made one.  I added, “I am sure our homemade cake will be better than any I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant.”   (That’s a lot of confidence … or arrogance!)

Alice Cat Very Busy
We divided up the recipe, marked out our space on the counter and got to it!  Italian Cream cake is very easy to make with buttermilk and soda combining to make the creaminess of the batter.


alice cat kitchen
Egg whites are folded in to give the cake a luscious, light texture.  Traditionally flaked coconut is added to the batter.  I adore coconut and so I add a little coconut flavoring as well as vanilla.

We baked the cake in 8″ square pans because I wanted to use my square cake plate.  (I do realize a round cake can go on a square plate, but that scrambles up my brain.)

While the cake was baking we chopped and toasted pecans, made a butter cream cheese frosting and patiently waited to finish up our 3-layer masterpiece!

Italian Cream Cake
This recipe came from Southern Living Magazine, November 1996.  I wonder what took me so long to make it?

Italian Cream cake single
The coconut makes the cake look a little “ragged” but I assure you it is moist and luscious.

Italian Cr cake single back
My sous-chef dish-washing mom said “it is perfect” and then added “but next time if you want to add a little more frosting I wouldn’t mind.” 

I agree about the frosting, so I added to the frosting recipe so you won’t run short.  I could have used more frosting between each layer.

All-in-all a perfect end to a lovely birthday, spent partly in the kitchen with my mom!  Aren’t I blessed?  Yes!  I know!

Happy Baking and Stay Warm!
~ Catherine

cc_pinkcupbday

Italian Cream Birthday Bake
 
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Luscious and delicious this traditional 3-layer cake makes a perfect birthday cake or dessert for any occasion!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: Serves 12
Ingredients
Cake
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening*
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 24 ounces powdered sugar (3 cups)
  • Milk, if needed
  • *Garnishes: toasted pecan halves, chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla and coconut extract, beating until blended.
  2. Combine flour and soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans.
  4. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Bake chopped pecans in a shallow baking pan at 350°, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until toasted. Cool.
  6. Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and coconut extract at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat frosting at high speed until smooth, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to make your favorite consistency; stir in pecans.
  7. Spread Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.
Notes
* I use solid coconut oil for the shortening. Coconut oil is ideal for baking.

For The Love of My Family – Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna noodle casserole full
What do you do purely for the love of your family?  Something you would never, ever do except out of love?

quotes-about-life_381041-2Tuna. Noodle. Casserole.  That’s it.  I make tuna noodle casserole because they love it.  If I didn’t want to make them happy I would never, ever make tuna-anything.  Actually, I would never even open a can of tuna if it were left totally up to me.
tuna noodle singleTo say I dislike tuna is such an understatement of gigantic proportions.

But love for my family?  Well, that’s a totally different story.  So, this week I bought 8 cans of white albacore tuna.  For the love of my sous-chef dish-washing mom and my Chief Valentine.


tuna noodle casserole panThe best part is hearing them exclaim “You made tuna noodle casserole?  For us? Thank you!”  🙂

I used a basic recipe from Taste of Home and cranked it up a notch with wonderful Amish-made noodles and a topping of french-fried onion rings.

I ate a bit the first meal.  The other two ate the leftovers several other meals saying “it gets better every day!”

If you and your family like all-things tuna, you are going to really, really love this casserole!

Happy Valentine’s Day With Love,
~Catherine

P.S.  So what do you do purely for the love of your family?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”     John 13:34-35 ESV

For The Love of My Family - Tuna Noodle Casserole
 
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For the love of my family I treat them to this extra-special casserole loaded with all things creamy and delicious cranked up a notch with french fried onions.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish Casserole
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups cooked Egg noodles
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 can (6 ounces) white albacore tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
  • 1 cup french-fried onions
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan cook noodles until just cooked, not over-cooked. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine soup and milk until smooth. Add the noodles, peas, tuna and pimientos; mix well.
  3. Pour into a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with french-fried onions.
  4. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 25 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
  5. Yield: 4 servings.
Notes
Recipe can easily be doubled. Cook time 35 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

 

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