Category: favorites

Red Lobster Cheesy Biscuits

Recently given a  choice between dining at a hole-in-the wall Cuban restaurant, a Mom ‘n Pop Indian food spot and a local Irish pub, I chose Red Lobster. It’s inexplicable. Folks, I haven’t been to Red Lobster in…[counts on both hands]…6 years? Yet all I wanted in that moment were baskets of cheddar bay biscuits.

After appropriately stuffing my face with four course for $14.99 including unlimited biscuits, I was quite happy –  and also curious. How hard is it to make their famous biscuits? A Google search reveals a host of copycat recipes but I wanted one with instant gratification. Enter this super easy recipe from Love Bakes Good Cakes.

raw biscuits
Faux cheese, plus biscuit dough topped with margarine.

Drawback: that whole lactose intolerance thing means I don’t keep dairy milk or shredded cheddar cheese around. Turns out, it doesn’t matter! The almond milk and veggie shreds incorporated perfectly, along a few tweaks for personal preference.  I just ate 3 of these babies, 2 with ham and mustard and honey, and one straight up. Ho boy, this is going in the stack of new favorites:

Ingredients
2 cups Bisquick mix
⅔ cup milk – I used almond
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded – I used Go Veggie! Parmesan, Mozzarella and Romano blend
1 TB butter, melted
2 TBS margarine, divided
1 tsp. olive oil
⅛ tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. parsley flakes
⅛ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. garlic powder – I used onion powder

finished cheese biscuits
Picture 2: Ta da! Finished, delicious cheesy biscuits

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the Bisquick, milk and cheese until a soft dough forms. Drop by 9 spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Top each biscuit with a spread of margarine (see picture 1).
3. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on the tops and sides. Remove from oven. top each biscuit with another sliver of margarine. (I’m not going for health here, people, and these biscuits need salty tops).
4. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, 1 TBS margarine, olive oil, Old Bay, salt, garlic or onion powder and parsley. Brush the butter mixture over the warm biscuits.
5. Eat! Repeat.

Next time I’ll probably use faux cheddar cheese to obtain that classic orange color, and garlic powder in the butter topping blend. But I am very pleased overall. To boot, the entire process took 15 minutes!

I wonder how many I can eat before the bf notices?

5 Minute ‘Pickles’

I sometimes whine about cooking when it’s hot, and I’m clearly not alone. In fact, Cooking Light  ran a piece in their July issue about 5-minute sides along with all sorts of shortcuts to avoid the kitchen. It’s not just me!

I made their recipe for Greek Salad Cucumbers for an impromptu picnic dinner. It’s less like a salad or a side and more like super-fast pickles. And they are awesome: crunchy, salty and satisfying on a sticky evening. Plus they’re apparently quite healthy.

  • 1 English cucumber, cut into quarters lengthwise and then crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and swirl around to coat the cucumbers. I misread “red wine vinegar” as “rice vinegar,” only to realize 1/4 tsp of the way through that I was out of rice vinegar. I switched to white vinegar before realizing it actually listed red wine vinegar. And I failed to measure anything. Ya know what? It didn’t matter one bit; they were still delish.

Taste and adjust to preference. The leftover liquid made a nice cracker dip too.

Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Casserole

I generally consider casseroles to be sad, overcooked, under-spiced concoctions served lukewarm at church dinners with low expectations.

But lo! It is not so!  This recipe changed my mind and I can’t get enough of it. No… really, I try not to eat the whole pan in one sitting. After trying this at a friends’ home where two kiddos live, I modified it from the original recipe for a more adult palate. My significant other tops it with hot sauce for a bit more punch.

Ingredients

It’s not gonna win any beauty contests, but it is a fiiiine piece of comfort food eating.

10 oz can condensed cream of broccoli OR cream of mushroom soup
– 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use canola mayonnaise to avoid trans fats)
– 2 TBS milk or milk-product
– 1 1/2 cups-ish reduced fat sharp cheddar shredded cheese
– 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
– 1 TB white sugar
– 1 tsp black pepper
– 4 TBS+ whole grain mustard (Don’t skip this)
– 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (Don’t overdo this)
– 1 tsp+ salt, to taste
– 32 oz bag of frozen broccoli, thawed in the microwave and coarsely chopped
– 1 1/2 cups  COOKED quinoa (see below)

Directions

1.  Cook quinoa: combine 3/4 cup quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible.  Fluff with a fork.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow 9×13 casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray.

3. In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, sugar, pepper, mustard, 1/2 cup Parmesan and nutmeg until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and chopped broccoli.

4. Spoon mixture into prepared dish.  Top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly on the edges and golden. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving — or dive in and scald your tongue.

Makes 6 adult-sized portions.

Starbucks’ Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon zest and juice makes all edible items brighter: hot tea, roasted vegetables, baked goods, alcohol, salad, yogurt. I challenge you — what does NOT taste better with lemon? While you ponder deep thoughts, lemme share this copycat recipe for Starbucks’ lemon pound cake. It’s killer: zingy, dense, sweet, soft. I froze half of my original loaf and thawed it a couple weeks later — still delicious.

Yesterday I sampled the original loaf at Starbucks while shopping with a friend — and I have to say that this recipe is actually better. My version has more icing, less grease, less thud in the stomach and less guilt. Apparently we all owe Todd Wilbur our thanks for tinkering to find the secret ingredient: lemon extract. I made a few tweaks, but the basics are his.

“It would take quite a bit of real lemon juice to give this moist cake loaf clone the perfect lemony tang of the original. To avoid producing a batter that’s too runny, we must turn to lemon extract that can be found near vanilla extract in your supermarket. This concentrated lemon flavoring works well with real lemon juice to give us the intense lemon flavor we need. Plus this extract adds just the right amount of lemon goodness to the icing without thinning it out.”

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS salted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
zest of 1 lemon

Lemon Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 TBS milk or milk-product, if needed, for blending to smoothness. (My lactose-intolerant self used coconut milk).
1/2 tsp+ lemon extract
1 tsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Use an electric mixer (or Kitchen Aid) to blend together eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest  & lemon juice in a large bowl.

2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt in a medium bowl. Add dry ingredient into wet ingredients & blend until smooth. Add oil and mix well.

3. Pour ingredients into a well-greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. I also lined mine with parchment paper — optional. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean.

4. Make the lemon icing by combining ingredients in a small bowl with electric mixer on low speed. I used my immersion blender instead for efficiency’s sake — or laziness. For me, the icing makes this cake. It’s not a thin glaze; it’s a stand up straight and melt-in-your-mouth icing.

5. When the lemon loaf is cool, remove it from the pan & frost the top with the lemon icing. When the icing has set up, slice the loaf into eight 1-inch-thick slices. It seriously looks and tastes and delights as much as the original. Rock on, lemon luxuriousness.