Biscuit Recipe

Homemade biscuits taste much better than those out of a can. They also have the ability to fill you up. No wonder they are still found in many homes and restaurants. For years, I struggled with making biscuits. It seemed like I could cook anything but a biscuit. Then my great aunt Gladys in Kentucky, a regular biscuit maker, told me I was rolling them too thin. Growing up I always remembered watching my grandmother roll out the biscuit dough. As it turns out, once the liquid has been incorporated you don't want to handle the dough any more than necessary. Too much rolling and kneading will cause the biscuits to be tough.

  • 2 cups of self-rising flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • milk to incorporate

Cut the cold stick of butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Using your hands break down the pieces of butter until the flour begins to slightly resemble wet sand.

Add salt and pepper to taste and just enough milk to bring the dough together. On a floured surface use your hand to pat out the dough to a 3/4" to 1" thickness.

 If you don't have a biscuit cutter use an inverted drinking glass. Put the biscuits on a baking surface and combine the scraps of dough to cut out more biscuits.

  When all of the dough has been used brush the tops with melted butter.

 Bake in a 425 F oven 10-15 minutes, or until the desired color has been reached. 

Cornbread Recipe

I have a great aunt who makes phenomenal cornbread. She was visiting from out of state and I insisted she give me the recipe. Well, it wasn't that simple. Turns out she makes her cornbread based on how the dry ingredients feel. With a pen and paper in hand I began to take notes as she proceeded to make cornbread.

  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 1 cup of self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • buttermilk or milk
Over the years I have played with the amount of sugar in the recipe. Adding 1/4 the total amount of flour and cornmeal gives it a sweet taste that's not overly sweet. Buttermilk reduces the amount of sweetness slightly and gives the cornbread a hint of a tang. I have used regular milk when I'm out of buttermilk and the cornbread is slightly sweeter. Whichever you are using add enough milk/buttermilk until the mixture reaches a cake batter consistency. You don't want it to be too thin, but you want to be able to stir the mixture by hand with a little resistance. The amount of oil added will determine how much moisture the cornbread has. Bake in a 400F oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. I often double or triple this recipe, it's about 25 minutes for the recipe above.

I like to also add black pepper to the recipe to round out the flavors. For a twist try adding corn kernels, jalapenos, or shredded cheese to the mixture. 


Handmade Wheat Bread

Homemade Wheat Bread Update:

I've been using bread machine yeast added directly to the dry ingredients instead of proofing the yeast. To free up my mommy hands the mixer has taken the role of dough kneader. Still using the same recipe found below I've found Lazy Wheat Bread. I wrote the article on HubPages so follow the link for step by step instructions with photos.

I've always been picky when it comes to grocery shopping. In the five years I worked as an analytical chemist I encountered my fair share of chemicals and their safety sheets. So, I always read ingredient labels with a high level of scrutiny. Loren Cordain, the author of the Paleo Diet also made a very good point in his book. "If you have to add vitamins and minerals to make something nutritious, why are you eating it?" It's amazing to me how many ingredients are listed on a loaf of bread, even the bread in the bakery section of the supermarket has a similar list.

I've made bread in the past, but I've always used the bread machine to make the dough. When the machine beeped I would shape it and bake it myself because I don't like the texture of the crust when baked in the machine. Pizza dough has always been one of the top reasons to pull out the bread machine. I'd add the ingredients before going to work and set it to finish right before I came home. Voila, homemade pizza!

I've never been a fan of the wheat bread purchased in the store but wanted to make some of my own. In the past I tried making wheat bread but always made bread bricks instead. I love food and cooking, so when I haven't mastered something I MUST try again. So, the other day I pulled out the wheat flour and followed the directions on the bag. In my previous attempts, it turns out that I didn't let it rise 3 times. All of the white breads I've ever made only required 2 risings.

My next hurdle was proofing the yeast. I have never activated yeast separately in a bowl of warm water. I had no idea what it should look like. The recipe said to dissolve the yeast in water and let it sit for 5 minutes until it starts to foam. On the first attempt, I stirred the water and yeast together. It wasn't sure if I had foam or not so I Googled some images. The pictures I saw reminded me of scum growing on top of a pond. Since I stirred mine together it looked more like watered down baby food. I dumped it out and tried again. This time I sprinkled the yeast on the surface of the water. It looked better, but after 10 minutes I still had dry yeast on the surface. I felt the water temperature and it already felt cold. I was afraid I'd make more bricks if the majority of  the yeast wasn't activated.

On my third attempt I used a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water. I remembered seeing something online about 110 degrees. Then, I very carefully sprinkled the yeast over the surface as evenly as I could. This time it looked more like the images I saw online. So I added it to my dry ingredients and began to knead. The recipe said 8 to 10 minutes, but I went for 10. I covered it in a bowl I oiled with olive oil. After letting it rise for 1 hour I kneaded it again for 5 minutes or so. The dough went back into the same bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and I let it rise another 45 minutes.

When the dough doubled in size for the second time I became hopeful that I was on the right track. After kneading the dough for the 3rd time I was happy to put it into my parchment lined bread pans. (If you've never used parchment paper before, I HIGHLY recommend trying a roll. When you see how easily things can be removed from a pan you'll be hooked too.) For the next 45 minutes I let the dough rise for the last time. I popped it into the oven until it was golden brown on top.

The bread was supposed to sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. It made a noise, but I wasn't sure if it was because I had made another brick or if I finally got it right. When I cut into the loaf it was perfect! I slathered a piece with butter and it was delicious. To me, store-bought wheat bread has a flavor that I'm not crazy about. This bread had the homemade texture, the nutritional benefits of wheat, and it didn't have that store-bought flavor.

Besides having delicious bread I found a great sense of pride and satisfaction that I made bread, from scratch, with my bare hands. Sure the overall time span was close to 4 hours, but I'd say it was well worth it. This weekend I plan on doubling the recipe and freezing a few loaves. Here is the recipe I used on the back of a bag of Stone-Buhr whole wheat flour:

1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) of active dry yeast
1 1/8 cup of warm water
1 Tbsp of brown sugar
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup of unbleached white bread flour*
1 tsp of salt

This is how I put it together: Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm water. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and add the olive oil. When the yeast mixture is ready add it to the dry ingredients and mix together. On a floured surface knead the bread, adding more flour as needed, for 10 minutes. Oil the bowl where the dough will rise to prevent it from sticking and cover with plastic wrap. After an hour, knead the dough for 5 minutes and let it rise for 45 minutes in the same bowl. When the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes, knead it again and put it into the bread pan(s). Cover the dough with the plastic wrap and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes. In a 400 F oven bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

*Since I was essentially out of white bread flour I made up the difference with all-purpose flour.


Chicken Florentine

After the chicken I pulled from the freezer had thawed I discovered it was one large split chicken breast and not the two I thought it was. Since I knew there wasn't enough chicken to serve it as the main dish I knew I had to incorporate it into something. Initially I thought of stir-fry's and pasta dishes, but decided to look for a casserole recipe instead. There's something warm and comforting about a casserole in the winter. I typed the word casserole into the search box on Allrecipes.com and Chicken Florentine was at the top of the list. I've never eaten this dish but it sounded interesting. Below, you will find the original recipe I found on the site:

Chicken Florentine by BRYAN0320 


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 (13.5 ounce) cans spinach, drained
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2/3 cup bacon bits
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Looking over the ingredient list I had most of the ingredients but decided to create my own version instead. I didn't have mushrooms, mozzarella, or the canned soup. Since sauces are very easy to make I rarely buy condensed soups or sauce mixes. Although I had lemon it didn't sound good to me so I omitted it.

I began by browning 4 strips of bacon in a pan over medium heat. When they were crisp I put them on a paper towel to drain. The bite size pieces of raw chicken I had cut were added to the bacon drippings to cook. When they were cooked completely I removed them from the pan onto a paper towel to drain. In the very same pan I added a bag of frozen spinach. Typically I'm not a fan of cooked spinach, especially when it reminds me of the green goo with a metallic taste that was served with school lunches. GAG! If spinach is cooked correctly it is delicious. Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Spinach Quiche, and Spinach Dip are a few of my favorites. 

While the spinach was thawing/cooking in the pan I began to create my sauce. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, I added 3 tablespoons of butter. When the butter melted I added 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and whisked the two together to create a roux. After cooking about 5 minutes, to remove the flour taste, the mixture turned yellow. Ideally it is best to add hot liquid so that the butter in the roux doesn't clump. I added approximately 3 cups of cold milk to the roux to make a bechamel, or white sauce. Continually whisking until the milk warms allows the clumps will break apart. Just be sure to use 100% butter otherwise the sauce may separate. 

When the spinach had thawed I added salt, pepper, and 4 minced cloves of garlic while continuing to cook over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, my goal was to evaporate excess moisture from the pan. The spinach wasn't 100% dry, but the water created by the melting process was no longer in the bottom of the pan. When it was completed I covered the bottom of a 13"x9" pan with the spinach and topped it with the chicken. 

The white sauce began to steam and I added 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning and 3/4 of a cup of freshly grated parmesan. Since the original recipe called for Italian seasoning I thought I'd take it a step further and create a semi-alfredo sauce as well. I say "semi" because typically alfredo sauce consists of butter, cream, parmesan, and parsley. When the cheese melts and the sauce nears it's boiling point the true thickness of the sauce will be created. Sauces and gravies created with four will thicken when the boiling point is reached. I recommend adding milk if the sauce is somewhat thick. It will go into the oven and condense some more. The sauce will go over pasta so create the thickness you desire.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and spinach. Sprinkle the top with a light layer of grated parmesan and finally crumbled pieces of bacon. Put the casserole into a 350 F oven for 20-30 minutes to give the flavors a chance to marry. While in the oven, cook your favorite pasta to accompany the dish.

Top the pasta with the Chicken Florentine and enjoy. My husband, who usually turns his nose up at green vegetables, couldn't eat it fast enough. AND he finished the rest the following day.

Jennifer's Recipe
  • 1 large butterflied chicken breast
  • 1 bag of frozen spinach
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
  • 4 strips of bacon 
Additional Recipes by Jennifer

5 Hour braise with only 3 ingredients.

Brining a turkey and rubbing it with a compound butter.
Winner of a HubNugget Award

Recipes for hummus, rye bread stuffing, and mom's cranberry sauce.