Touch of Grace Biscuits

Graceful Biscuits

There’s no graceful way to say this, so I may as well just be blunt…I can be a complete ass sometimes.  And by sometimes I mean when I just react instead of stopping and thinking about how I want to react.  It’s the dark side of living in the moment.  Because in that precise moment, it’s a head spinning, furious fisted meltdown.  I was swallowed whole by  that moment this morning at breakfast.

That’s right.  I had a tantrum over a plate of scrambled eggs.

And here’s the kicker….as soon as I started, I knew I was over reacting.  I knew it and knew that it was easier to just be swept out by the rising tide of my anger than it was to dig my heels into the shifting sand and ground myself to a halt.  And while I see progress in the fact that I’m not sitting here stewing mad hours later, listening to the looping rant in my head about “why can’t you just listen to what I say?”, this place of saying I was wrong is uncomfortable.

Wasn’t I just talking about being a student of life and the continuing education that has come courtesy of the Tater Tot?   What is the saying about pride coming before the fall?  Yeah, the Universe has a way of keeping us humble and in check.  So maybe I should expand this particular life lesson plan to include being mindful enough in that moment to consciously choose how to react.

Since the Universe also has an uncanny knack for giving us repeat opportunities to try and get things right, I have a hunch this won’t be the last time I get quizzed on this particular life lesson.  I can only hope that my scores improve so that I get to move on to the next chapter in the lesson plan.

And what exactly does this have to do with a pan of biscuits?  Well I’ll tell ‘ya.  Once upon a time, I tried to make Touch of Grace Biscuits.  There were  multiple attempts.   And they all failed to make a passing grade.  Really, click that link and take a look at the best I could do.  That’s no biscuit.

But thanks to putting my pride aside and paying attention to the lesson as the Universe presented it to me, I was able to create pans of graceful biscuits.  So while I still have a ways to go with some of life’s lessons, I’m going to say that I’ve gotten a passing grade on this one.

Thank you Shauna Server for bringing me face to face with perfectly graceful biscuits.  I am in your debt.  Not only did you get the right recipe in my hands but your photos gave me great visual cues to how my biscuit dough should look.

Touch of Grace Biscuits

Adapted from BakeWise

BAH Note:  I don’t typically say you need to use a specific brand of anything…unless it really makes a difference.  And in this case, I think it does.  So look in your grocery store for White Lilly self rising flour.  Once you get to know these sinfully graceful biscuits I don’t think that bag of flour will go unused in your pantry.

Oh, and if you were inclined to brush a tablespoon or so of melted butter on the tops of the biscuits when they come out of the oven, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice.

  • 2 cups self rising flour, preferably White Lily (see the note above)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening (yup, shortening)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (don’t substitute any self rising flour here)

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and lightly spray a 8 or 9 inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix the heavy cream and buttermilk in a measuring cup and set aside.

Place the all purpose flour in a pie plate or dish and set aside.

Whisk together the self rising flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Use your fingers to work the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles wet sand with no large clumps.

Add the liquid to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine.  The dough should resemble wet cottage cheese.  To tell if you have the right consistency, use an ice cream scoop and scoop out some dough into your plate of all purpose flour.  It should hold its shape.  If not, return the test scoop to the mixing bowl and add self rising flour one tablespoon at a time and gently stir it in.

As soon as your dough holds its shape, place a few scoops of it in the all purpose flour.  Working with one scoop of dough at a time, pick it up, dust it with flour from your plate, and gently toss the dough from hand to hand to form your biscuit.  Place the formed biscuit in your prepared pan and repeat the process with the remaining dough.  Fit your biscuits as close together as you can…they need to be snug up against each other to get a really good rise.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes  or until the tops are light golden brown.  Allow the biscuits to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before turning them out and serving.

{printable recipe}

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Crockpot Char Siu Pork

Asian Pulled Pork

“It’s in the ‘Freezes Beautifully’ section of my cookbook, and I want to make something that freezes beautifully.”  – Annelle, Steel Magnolias

The Mistah and I have only recently begun to seriously budget.  Until now, budgeting meant making sure we had enough money in savings to cover our over spending from checking.  I know  that’s not the best approach…I knew it as we were in the midst of it.  But it was easier than having the conversation about getting things under control.  Now that our family has grown, the money talk can’t be avoided.  I guess I should consider this practice for the other “talks” that wait for us down the parental road.

Have you ever tried to convince someone to do something the way you think it should be done?  Then you know that if you and the other person don’t think alike, that can be a hard sell.  Not to mention seriously frustrating for you both.  That’s how all of our previous attempts at having the money talk went.  It was my way or your way, but not our way.

Something had to change.  So we took a page from organizational management tools and formed a committee.  We meet monthly.  We keep minutes.  We look for ways to meet our goals and objectives without having to be right.

The reason I’m oversharing this with you is because at our last Finance Committee Meeting, one of the ideas presented for consideration was to buy a separate freezer.  The thought behind this is that our refrigerator/freezer can’t accommodate a gallon of ice cream without a fight.  Trying to buy frozen foods in bulk, or heaven forbid actually cooking and freezing individual portions of meals is completely out of the question without additional cold storage.

We haven’t fully committed to this plan.  Do you know how much an upright freezer costs?  They ain’t cheap.  So I’ve been trolling Craigslist.  Until I either land my white whale used or suck it up and drop some serious cash for a new one, my “freezes beautifully” selections are done on a small scale…and our Frigidaire is an ice cream free zone.

Crockpot Char Siu Pork (Asian Pulled Pork)

Adapted from Cooking Light: The New Way to Cook Light

BAH Note:  I scored a deal on a 4 pound pork roast and doubled the recipe.  If you scale it up, be prepared for a longer cooking time.  My 4 pound roast took nearly 12 hours to fall off the bone.

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (lower sodium recommended)
  • 1/4 hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 pounds Boston butt pork roast, trimmed of extra fat
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Combine the soy sauce, hoisin, ketchup, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and five spice powder in a small bowl.  Stir to fully combine and then transfer to a large zip top plastic bag.  Add the pork roast and refrigerate at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.

Place the pork and the marinade from the bag in a crockpot.  Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until the meat falls apart.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board or sheet pan and let it cool before you shred it with two forks.

Meanwhile, carefully ladle the liquid from the crockpot into a saucepan.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce reduces a bit.  Taste for seasoning and spoon the sauce over the shredded pork.  Stir to let the sauce get reacquainted with the pork before shoving it in your face.

{printable recipe}

Chilled Avocado Soup

Chilled Avocado Soup

Lately I feel like I’m on the verge of becoming the stereotypical crotchety old lady.  The one who mutters under my breath about “kids these days” and “hell in a handbasket” and then wonders why people avoid making eye contact with me as they pass by.  All I need to complete the transformation is a housecoat, hair rollers, and a coffee mug full of gin as I sweep my porch.  Ok, maybe that is a bit of a stretch.  Because anyone who knows me knows that my coffee mug would be hiding vodka or wine….never gin.

Who knew that I would feel so old and tired at 42?  But when you’re young and daydream about what the future holds, you totally gloss over the unglamorous parts of being an adult.  Things like pulling weeds, taking out the trash, paying bills, and navigating the tough patches in relationships.  What you think about is the freedom of being an adult when you get to call the shots.

You certainly don’t imagine what it will feel like to work a full day, slog through rush hour traffic with a cranky toddler as your backseat driver, and arrive home to discover hair balls and cat vomit deposited throughout your house.  Or as I like to call it, Wednesday.

Oh, and when you do finally get in the door, clean up the vomit, change a diaper, and set the toddler up with enough toys to stock an aisle at Target, you are expected to make dinner magically appear.  After dinner there are dishes to wash, clothes to fold, emails to return, bed time for the toddler, lunches to make, and deep breaths to take.  Glamorous, right?

Some days I handle this with more grace than others.  And on my best days, I have dinner mostly prepped and ready to go in the fridge.  Because let’s be real, if I didn’t we would have cereal for dinner as often as we have cereal for breakfast.  And as glamorous as that may sound when you’re young, at 42 I can tell you that it’s really not.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Shrimp
Adapted from Cooking Light Good Mood Food

BAH Note:  Cooking Light calls for low fat sour cream.  I got feisty and used regular. Let your conscience (and your waistline) be your guide.  Yes, this dish has several components.  But they can all be made ahead of time.  When you’re ready to serve, just put all the pieces together.

Soup:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1⁄2 cups diced peeled avocado (about 2)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

Lime Cream:

  • 3⁄4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp, unpeeled
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears if using fresh)
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped red onion

To prepare soup, place chicken broth, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Cover and chill.

For lime cream, combine sour cream, cilantro (if using), lime juice and zest, and salt in a bowl.  Stir until combined and add additional lime juice to get the consistency you like.

To prepare shrimp, heat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Spread the shrimp into a single layer on the sheet pan, coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until the shrimp is firm and cooked through.  Allow to cool thoroughly before peeling.

While the shrimp roasts and cools, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the onions begins to soften.  Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally to allow the mixture to brown and char a bit.

Serve the chilled avocado soup garnished with the shrimp, lime cream, and corn mixture.

{printable recipe}

How To Make Grilled Cheese

Perfect Grilled Cheese

It’s funny how if you stop and think about it, you never stop having opportunities to learn.  I am well past my days as a student in the academic sense.  And yet I continue to be a student of life.

In the last year alone I have learned important life skills such as how to change a flat tire, how to snake a drain, and how to reset my garbage disposal.  These are all good things to know and can get you out of a jam from time to time.  So I lump them into category of things I know and hope that I won’t have to use.

But maybe just as important are the things I’ve learned from our Tater Tot, and these I consider to be life lessons with daily applications.  What’s the number one lesson I’ve learned from my child?  It is that I can have a bad moment but still have a good day.  Many of you already know this lesson but for me this is like trying to master a new language.

All my life, if something didn’t go exactly according to plan it threw me off.  A disagreement left me disagreeable for the whole day.  A perceived slight had me fuming and indignant.  I got good at being prickly and stabby. I might say “let’s agree to disagree” but in my head I would be listing the ways that you were wrong and I was right.

And then I began to see how Libby could go from a full on meltdown one minute (or two, or ten) back to happy the next.  Thanks to her developing understanding about wanting everything she sees, she gets upset in the morning when she sees us walking around getting dressed and ready for the day while she is left in her crib.  There are tears.  There are sobs. Sometimes, there is wailing.  And it goes on for what seems like forever (especially at 6:30 in the morning). But eventually she pulls herself together, sits down in the crib, and plays with a toy.  And you would never know that only minutes before this happy, content, singing baby was a shrieking, whirling dervish.

So what does my 10 month old know that I don’t?  Maybe that it is ok to be upset or angry but once you’ve said as much it’s time to let go and move on.  She doesn’t hold a grudge against us because we put her in the crib, won’t let her crawl into the dishwasher, or keep her hands out of the cat food dish.  Granted, I won’t give you an up-arms hug or wet kiss the way Libby does after she’s calmed down but I might not be shooting mental daggers your way either.  Let’s call that progress, shall we?

Grilled Cheese

Adapted from Bon Appetit

BAH Note:  This is more a process than a recipe.  But the two step approach produces perfectly browned toast on the outside with melty cheese goodness on the inside.  No flipping required.  Of all the life lessons of the past year, this one comes in just below not letting a bad moment lead to a bad day.  Can you blame me?

  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Cheese

Heat your oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add two slices of bread to the pan and cook until the bottom of the bread is crisp and browned.  Transfer the bread to the sheet pan, toasted side down.  Top one slice of bread with the cheese and place the second slice of bread, toasted side up, on top of the cheese.  Bake for approximately 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Carefully remove from the oven and enjoy.

{printable recipe}