Nothing Says Home Like The Smell Of Baking

Nothing Says Home Like The Smell Of Baking

Nothing says home like the smell of baking . . . especially biscuits! A true southern staple for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Ever since I can remember I have been baking biscuits. Always searching for just the right recipe, ingredients and mixing techniques to create a light and fluffy biscuit. 

Back in my college days at TCU, a popular local restaurant, Texas Sampler, was known for their biscuits and gravy. After nagging the restaurant for the biscuit recipe for years, much to my surprise, they shared their secret recipe. Turns out it was a variation of a Southern angel biscuit. The two main ingredients were biscuit mix and yeast. And the mixing technique was simple than original angel biscuit recipes. Since then, I have baked these biscuits for my family. Each time with great results!

What are Angel Biscuits?

  • Angel Biscuits are made with three leaveners; baking power, baking soda, and yeast.
  • Angel Biscuits are a cross between a dinner roll and a flaky biscuit. 

Secret Ingredients:

Nothing says home like the smell of baking . . . bake some Texas Sampler Biscuits today!

Texas Sampler Biscuits

When I was a TCU student, Texas Sampler was a popular Fort Worth restaurant. Their biscuits and gravy were famous. After requesting their recipe several times, they finally shared it with me. These are angel biscuits, light and fluffy . . . a combination of a dinner roll and flaky biscuit. Perfect for making game day sandwiches with local delicious deli meats and cheeses!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 biscuits


  • 3 1/2 cups Pioneer Biscuit Mix
  • 1 cup warm water ( 105ºF - 110ºF)
  • 1 package Fleischmann's Yeast


  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.

  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside until frothy, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add yeast/water mixture to biscuit mix. Stir gently with a spatula, being careful not to over mix. (At this point, the dough will have dry spots.) Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and shape into a ball.

  4. Pat out on a lightly floured surface to 1" thickness, cut into 2" biscuits, being careful not to twist the biscuit cutter.

  5. Place the biscuits, 1/2" apart on a lightly greased 8" X 10" X 2" baking pan. Cover with a clean towel. Leave in a draft-free place for 30 minutes.

  6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.


Oh My Pies!

Oh My Pies!

Oh My Pies!

There is something about fall, the change in season and the opening of the State Fair of Texas. It reminds me of growing up in Louisiana and cooking. I especially enjoyed making the famous Natchitoches meat pies. They were one of my favorite things to make.

We traveled to Natchitoches and visited with our cousins. Each time we dropped by one of our favorite restaurants, Lasyone’s. Their Natchitoches meat pies were famous and still are to this day!

Natchitoches, Louisiana was the oldest permanent settlement in the vast Louisiana Purchase Territory. It was founded in 1714 by Louis de St. Denis. Quaint brick streets wind along the high banks of the former Red River bed. 

Each year on the first Saturday of December, thousands of people flock to Natchitoches for the annual Christmas Festival of Lights. At dusk, a switch is pulled and beautiful decorations light up on both sides of the Cane River. The famous Natchitoches Meat Pies are among the favorite foods featured at the festival. 

I’m sure you remember the annual Christmas Festival of Lights as it was featured in Steel Magnolias, a favorite southern movie. 

Oh my pie . . . fry some Natchitoches Meat Pies!

Natchitoches Meat Pies

Fried pies filled with ground beef and a burst of creole spices. Delicious! Serve them during the fall and throughout the holiday season.

*Original recipes call for a blend of ground beef and ground pork. I prefer to make them with 100% ground beef. You can make them either way!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 t. salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 3 pods of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped, mainly green parts

Crust: 3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 t. salt. 1 t. baking powder, 6 T. shortening, 1 egg, 3/4 cup milk


  1. Filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet, combine the ground beef, onion, bell pepper, celery, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the meat looses its pink color. Do not overcook until the meat if dry. Add the garlic during the last minute or two of cooking the meat. Add the flour, stir until it is combined with the meat mixture. Remove from heat, add the green onions. Place the meat in a large colander to drain off excess liquid. Cool to room temperature.

  2. Crust: In a mixing bowl, add the flour, salt and baking powder. Whisk a couple of times to combine. Cut in the shortening. Add the beaten egg and milk. Mix lightly, pour onto a lightly floured surface, knead gently a few times and form dough into a ball. Wrap in wax paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

  3. To Assemble: On a lightly floured surface, roll about half of the dough into 1/8" thickness. Cut into 5" rounds. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on one side of the pastry round. Dampen edge of pie with fingertips dipped in water. Fold top over meat and crimp edges with a fork.

  4. To Fry: Fry in a deep fat fryer at 350ºF. until golden brown.

  5. Freezing: The uncooked meat pies freeze well. When ready to fry, do not thaw before frying.

A Staple Of American Cuisine – Macaroni And Cheese

A Staple Of American Cuisine – Macaroni And Cheese

A staple of American cuisine – Macaroni and Cheese is one of our favorite home-cooked meals!

Thomas Jefferson discovered the dish while traveling abroad. Upon returning to Monticello, he planned to serve it for an important state dinner. He imported pasta, parmesan cheese and olive oil.

James Hemings was Jefferson’s chef and slave. Hemings was the first American to train as a chef in France. With his sophisticated techniques of French classical cooking, he prepared a “macaroni pie” for prominent guests at Monticello, Jefferson’s private mountaintop home and plantation in Virginia.

Until the late 1800s, it remained a recipe for upper classes. Once pasta was broadly available more people enjoyed macaroni and cheese. By the 1940’s, it became a hearty, inexpensive meal for the working classes. 

Tips for the best Macaroni and Cheese:

  • Select the best-quality butter, cheddar cheese, and pasta.
  • Make homemade breadcrumbs with day-old sourdough bread.
  • Make creamy béchamel sauce with a butter/flour roux and hot milk.

Steps for Creamy Macaroni and Cheese:

  1. Toss homemade breadcrumbs with melted butter.
  2. Boil pasta in lightly salted water until a little under al dente.
  3. Scald milk.
  4. Make a béchamel sauce, add the grated cheese to create a Cheese Sauce Mornay.
  5. Pour the cheese sauce mornay over the cooked pasta.
  6. Pour into a lightly greased baking dish.
  7. Top with bread crumbs and sprinkle with paprika.
  8. Bake until bubbly and golden brown. 
  9. Enjoy!

A staple of American cuisine – Macaroni and Cheese – make some today!

Macaroni and Cheese

A classic French sauce, grated cheese, macaroni and topped with bread crumbs - delicious, comforting and one of America's favorite home-cooked dishes!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart 2% or whole milk
  • salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg to taste
  • 6 cups 20 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated or mixed Gruyere and cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

    Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside.

  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, cook elbow macaroni in lightly salted boiling water just under al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, being careful not to boil it.

  4. In a skillet set over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; add bread crumbs and toss to coat. Set aside.

  5. Make the bechamél sauce:

    In a heavy based saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter, whisk in the flour. Cook 1 - 2 minutes until foaming but not browned; let cool.

    Strain the hot milk, whisking constantly, bring the sauce to a boil, add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Simmer 3 - 5 minutes, until thickened.

  6. Make the Cheese Sauce Mornay:

    Remove the bechamél sauce, from heat, add grated cheese. Stir until cheese has melted.

  7. Pour the cheese sauce mornay into the cooked macaroni, stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumb mixture and paprika.

  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the macaroni is golden brown.

Rise To The Occasion

Rise To The Occasion

Rise to the occasion . . . knead, roll, rise, and bake some hot dinner rolls!

My grandmother, Birdie was famous for her homemade dinner rolls. She served them at her cafe in Oregon. Last summer, I was visiting with one of my cousins in Austin. She was raving over Birdie’s dinner rolls served 50 years ago! People will always remember your homemade dinner rolls. 

Rise to the occasion . . . bake some dinner rolls today . . . 

Dinner Rolls

Delicious every time . . . These rolls make every meal memorable!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. salt


  1. In a 1-cup liquid Pyrex® measuring cup, add the water, sugar and yeast. Stir to combine Set aside to rise for 5 to 10 minutes or until frothy.

  2. In a small saucepan set over medium low heat, add the milk. Scald. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Set aside. Cool to 100ºF to 115ºF.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, Add 4 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast mixture and cooled, scalded milk. Mix until the ingredients are blended. Switch the attachment to the hook attachment. Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the oil and swirl to cover the sides. Add the dough to the bowl and toss to coat it on all sides. Cover with a clean dish towel. Set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubles in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

  5. About 30 minutes before the dough has risen completely, preheat the oven to 400ºF.

  6. Lightly flour a work surface, a silicon pad is a helpful tool. Roll out the dough into 1/4" thickness. Cut into 1 1/2" strips. Stack the strips. Cut into 2" pieces. Place in lightly greased muffin tins. Cover with a clean dish towel. Set aside until for 30 minutes or until almost doubled in bulk.

  7. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

  8. Serve with plenty of butter!


Get Ready For Some Game Day Nachos

Get Ready For Some Game Day Nachos

Get ready for some Game Day Nachos! 

Now that the NFL is playing, we need some snacks to make at home. They should be easy to make and fun to serve. 

After years of making nachos, these Game Day Nachos are the best of all. Inspired by Joe T Garcia’s nachos, I set out to make them at home with some large tostada chips and hatch chilies. About that time, I was slow cooking a brisket. And just like that, the two recipes merged and became Game Day Nachos.

Sometimes, recipes evolve and become what I call “restaurant-quality” because they rival something that could be found at a favorite restaurant. The Game Day Nacho recipe is one of those recipes. And it’s ready just in time for the fall football season!

Here’s what you will need to make the nachos:

  1. An All-Clad electric skillet or slow cooker
  2. Cuisinart ® food processor for grating cheese. It saves so much time. 
  3. An electric knife saves time in slicing the brisket. A sharp chef’s knife will do the trick too.
  4. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman – Buy it or order it online at Interabang Bookstore. 
  5. The rest of the equipment is basic. Any well-stocked kitchen would have it!

Best Nacho Tips:

  • Start with Maya’s Sweet and Sour Holiday Brisket. The recipe is in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
  • Be sure to start a day ahead because the brisket needs to cook low and slow. Like 10 to 12 hours. Be sure to let it rest before slicing it. 
  • High-quality sharp cheddar cheese it best. Grate it in a food processor. Sorry, the pre-grated cheese doesn’t have as much flavor and it doesn’t seem to melt as well. 
  • Line jelly roll pans with aluminum foil for easy cooking and cleanup.
  • Mission Tostado Chips are best.
  • Hatch® Diced Green Chiles are best.

    Get ready for some Game Day Nachos!

    Game Day Nachos

    Tostada chips topped with sweet and sour brisket, sharp cheddar cheese and green chiles. For an extra festive touch, add a side of sour cream and guacamole. Delicious and perfect for any game day!


    • 1-2 pounds cooked brisket, diced into small pieces & blended with a little of the sauce that it was cooked with
    • 1 pound Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    • 1 package Mission® tostada chips
    • 1 can Hatch® diced green chiles


    1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

    2. Line a couple of jelly roll pans with aluminum foil.

    3. Place the tostada chips in rows on the prepared pans. 6 to 9 chips per pan.

    4. Top the chips with some brisket. Top with grated cheese and a few green chiles.

    5. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

    6. Remove the nachos from the aluminum foil and place on serving trays. Enjoy!

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


Have A Rice Day!

Have A Rice Day!

Have a rice day! 

It’s official . . . Fried Rice is our favorite new dish to make at home! Catherine has been testing Fried Rice recipes. With so many vegetables, it’s healthy and it’s fun to make!Have A Rice Day!

We love our royal blue Le Creuset® wok. 

Fried Rice

One of our favorite dishes to serve on Monday because it's so easy to make. Also, it's great for a Meatless Monday. Add some chicken, shrimp or beef to make it more hearty. Be sure to prep and chop all of the ingredients before cooking. It's much more fun that way. Enjoy!

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes


  • 1 cup rice(3 cups cooked rice)
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 broccoli, florets only
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 can baby corn, drained & each corn cut into quarters
  • 1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained & cut in half
  • 1 small can pineapple chunks, cut into smaller pieces
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
  • 1 T. sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 1 T. ginger, peeled & minced


  • soy sauce
  • lemon zest


  1. In a saucepan, cook the rice. Pour onto a jelly roll pan, spread into a thin layer. Set aside.

  2. In a wok set over a high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions and carrots. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

  3. Add the red pepper and broccoli florets. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

  4. Add the butter. When melted, about 30 seconds, add the rice, corn, peas, baby corn, water chestnuts and pineapple. Add the soy sauce. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

  5. Lightly scramble the eggs. Julienne. Set aside.

  6. In a small skillet, quickly sauté the garlic and sesame seeds in a little vegetable oil. Add to the wok.

  7. Add the green onions and ginger. Heat briefly, stirring constantly.

  8. Serve at once!

Indigo Stripe dress by Susan Apple