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Oven Roasted Kabobs

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I know, logically, that it’s not winter yet.  I also know that I should stop whining about the fact that the seasons are changing and just embrace it, because it’s going to be a very long winter.  But did anyone else notice that it was 30 degrees on Saturday? I mean, seriously?  That’s BELOW FREEZING.

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It’s times like these that many people say oooh, it’s chilly!  Let’s light a fire!  Let’s have soup!  Sometimes I’m that person.  Sometimes I can curl up in a heavy blanket with a bowl of thick, creamy, life-giving soup.  And when I am in that mood, I’m so happy.  But that’s usually like October 15.  When by “change of season” I really mean “it’s 60 degrees out.”  Not when it’s 30 degrees out.  That’s when I close my eyes and try and magic myself somewhere tropical.

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Unfortunately for me I have yet to successfully magic myself anywhere, which means that I have to resort to recreating some of my summer favorites inside my cold apartment.  Take the shish kabob.  A summertime favorite ’round the world.  A combination of marinated meats and veggies all skewered and cooked over hot coals.  How could you go wrong?!?  You may be thinking that “cooked over hot coals” is the imperative phrase here, something tricky to recreate in the winter let alone in an apartment with no balcony or yard.

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Wait for it… THE OVEN!  Shish kabobs, marinated and placed on a rack, can be roasted in the oven with essentially the same results as a grill.  I mean, you lose the grill flavor and the pass time of grilling things, but still- this means shish kabobs year round!  You can vary the vegetables (and meats) that you use, but pretty much everything tastes good skewered.  It’s the on-a-stick principle.  That’s why fairs and renaissance festivals have the best food.

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Apartment Kabobs

Marinade:

2/3 cup red wine vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

4 tbsp honey

Paprika

Cayenne

Garlic

Cumin

Chipotle

Cinnamon

Coriander

Kabobs:

1 steak, cubed

1 white onion

1 green bell pepper

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup tomatillos

1 eggplant

Chop steak, onion, pepper, and eggplant.  Put the steak in one bag and the veggies in another.

Use a food processor or immersion blender to combine the marinade ingredients.  Pour half with the meat and half with the veggies.  Marinate overnight.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil.  Place a cooling rack on top.  Stick different combinations of veggies and meat on skewers and line up on the rack.  Roast at 400 for 15 minutes, or until meat is cooked.  Let cool.

Serves 6.

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Fuzzy Navel

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If you were to ask my younger sister Genevieve what she associates with peach schnapps, she would probably tell you that the traumatic experience of being forced to drink it by her older sisters made her the way she is today.  But that’s only because she exaggerates.  I mean, she’s in her sophomore year at Carolina, so she should probably be thanking us.  Though she does routinely eat babies*… maybe that was our fault.

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You see, when my grandmother died we all spent the better part of a few weeks going through her house and packing it up.  One afternoon Gen and our other sister, Lauren, and I were working together and Gen came across a bottle of schnapps.  Which we immediately made her drink from.  Naturally.  Even though she was only in… middle school?  Okay, we’re jerks.  But the groan she made afterward was so priceless that if I had to do it again, I so would.  I refused to drink any because clearly it was awful, I could hear the proof in Gen’s mouth noise.  Now, many years later, I will admit that I was mistaken and that Gen is crazy, because schnapps are delightful.

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As part of our holiday celebrating Dan and I made fuzzy navels, a drink combining peach schnapps and orange juice.  Fuzzy navels, despite having one of the more off-putting cocktail names, are delicious.  Fruity, not overbearingly alcoholic (though you can change that by adding vodka) and perfect to sip out of champagne flutes.  Because we recently acquired these gorgeous engraved flutes from anthropologie and now all I want to do is sip things out of them.  And the fruitier the cocktail, the better.  Maybe I’ll serve them the next time I’m with my sisters.

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* Gen probably doesn’t eat babies.  Though, if you ever find yourself on a deserted island with her, I wouldn’t leave your baby alone.  She might eat it.  Or try and barter it for a lean pocket.

Fuzzy Navel

1 part peach schnapps

3 parts orange juice

Combine schnapps and oj in a mixer with ice.  Shake well and serve.

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Halloween Berger Cookies

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There are two reasons I prefer to grocery shop by myself.  The first is that Dan has a bad case of parking lot rage.  He can’t even be passenger in a car that’s in a crowded parking lot without getting all cranky.  The second reason is that he compulsively sneaks treats into the shopping cart when he thinks I’m not paying attention.  When we first started living together, the closest grocery store carried a cookie that is unique to Maryland, more specifically Baltimore.

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Every week as I unpacked our grocery bags, I was (un)surprised to find a box of these cookies, Berger cookies.  Berger cookies are a Baltimore tradition almost 150 years old.  It’s a cakey white cookie (not unlike a black & white cookie) topped with a thick, rich chocolate icing.  These cookies are well known throughout Maryland and well loved by my husband.  I would pull out the box, glance over at him, and I always got the same sheepish look in response.

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Dan’s favorite holiday is Halloween, so I try and go above and beyond to make it special.  He doesn’t really like barhopping, so we do a whole day in, usually with festive drinks, an appetizer based dinner, lots of queso, and scary movies.  This year’s roster includes Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, fuzzy navels, and a halloween edition of the Berger cookie.  I added red and yellow food coloring to the dough so when it is paired with the rich chocolate icing it is perfect for this most ghoulish of holidays.

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Halloween Berger Cookies
Source: Adapted from The Washington Post

Cookies:

2 sticks room temperature butter

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 cup whole milk

4 1/2 cups flour

Red & yellow food coloring

Icing:

3 1/2 cups chocolate chips

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 stick butter

2 tbsp light corn syrup

Cookies:

Cream butter on medium high until fluffy.  Add in salt, vanilla, b. powder, and continue beating.  Beat in sugar.  While beating, add in food coloring, alternating red and yellow, until you get the desired color orange.  Add in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in flour and milk, alternating, beginning and ending with flour.

Heat oven to 400.  Bake for 11 minutes on a baking sheet covered with wax paper.  Let cookies cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Icing:

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir.  Microwave another 1 1/2 minutes.  Whisk until fully incorporated.  Let cool to room temperature.  Beat for five minutes to incorporate air into the icing.

When cookies are cooled, dip in icing and place on a rack so the icing can set.

After they’ve cooled, they’re best refrigerated.

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