Martha Mondays: Cheese Straws

November 22, 2010

Well, as you can see, I didn’t exactly end up with cheese straws! Thanks to Megan at Megan’s Cookin for choosing this one. This was really easy to make – dump it all in a food processor and away you go. I couldn’t get the dough to come together though. I tried pressing it with my hands, but I could not get it to make logs which I could roll out. So I ended up making little crackers instead, which worked out fine. I really, really liked the way these tasted, but next time I would to make them thinner. These would be great at a party. I’m keeping this recipe!

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Gaga’s Cheese Bread

November 18, 2010

Cheese bread, with and without raisins

Mr. MarthaAndMe’s grandmother was known to her great grandchildren as Gaga. Gaga was a character. Mr. MarthaAndMe has nice memories of her, but even when he was a kid, she was a lovable kook. Her name was Matilda, or Tillie for short, but when she died, her birth certificate and marriage license had a completely different name (Melinda, I think). Gaga was a bit of an anxious gal and relied on Valium to get her through. Once we arranged to visit her and showed up and she stumbled out of bed, hair sticking out, having forgotten we were coming. She had taken a Valium and had a little nap. You never knew what to expect from Gaga. She told stories of relatives in the “home land” (no one is sure what country) who were royalty and how her family gave it all up. She was born dead and miraculously came back to life. And her husband was a no good you know what.

She lived in a tiny mother-in-law apartment behind her daughter, with a tiny kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Gaga did not have many material possessions, but those she did have had meaning, or were at least iconic. She had a big picture frame on the wall where she stuck in photos. At Christmas, she had a wreath made of hard candy that had scissors hanging from it so you could snip a piece off. She had a stuffed Alf (I don’t know why). She had an ashtray that was a weird guy in a monocle with his mouth open. She had a beautiful drop front desk/secretary that now sits in our living room (and, strangely, is an exact duplicate to one my parents have). I love that desk, but associate it with the photo of her mother in a casket that she kept inside it (apparently people used to take treasured photos of corpses “laid out”). And then there was her tiny, stained, Formica kitchen table. Whenever we visited her, she would get us into the kitchen at that table and make tea (with an old, used teabag) and water heated in a saucepan and scoop sugar out of a bin. And she would always have a batch of cheese bread for us.

No one knows where the recipe came from, but she had been making it as long as anyone can remember. I have a photocopy of the recipe card in her handwriting with its vague directions (and to add to the kookiness, it’s called “cheese rolls” although she always made it as bread). It seemed that whenever she made it, she altered it, so it was never quite the same.

The cheese bread has two variations. First is an actual cheese bread, made with golden raisins and farmer’s cheese. I think she always used some cheddar too, although the recipe does not suggest that. Then there is the poppy seed version, which has no cheese at all. Once she made me a batch of cheese bread with no raisins because she remembered I didn’t like them. Often her batches had burned edges or black bottoms, which we cut off when we got it home. Even so, it was always delicious.

Gaga has been gone for quite a few years, but I still remember her fondly. And I make her bread a few times a year and think about her when I make it. Somehow, like hers, each batch seems to have its own personality, but that quirkiness just reminds me of her.

Gaga’s Cheese Bread

6 cups flour (I use 2 cups whole wheat and 4 regular)

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 packet yeast

1/2 cup warm water

Mix the dry ingredients, then mix in the butter, eggs and sour cream. I usually end up using my hands to combine this. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit for 5 minutes, then mix that into the bread.

Now you need to decide what kind of bread you want to make.

For cheese bread:

Add in 1 lb of farmer’s cheese (you can substitute cheddar for half of it) and 2 egg yolks, and a cup of golden raisins.

For poppy seed bread:

Mix in one can of poppy seed filling.

Form into a long loaf on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise one hour. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.

The bread is a very moist and slightly sweet bread. It’s great with dinner, but it also yummy toasted for breakfast. The poppy seed version is sweeter. Sometimes I divide the recipe in half and do half cheese and half poppy seed.

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Cheddar Chive Scones

November 17, 2010

John Barriceli, I heart you. John is occasionally on Martha’s show and is one of the hosts of Everyday Food. I’ve got his new cookbook, Sono Baking book and so far I’ve had 3 good recipes and one terrible one.

My latest is cheddar chive scones. Oh yes, a savory scone. Super, super simple to make. I didn’t roll and cut mine out and instead just made hand-formed rounds. They worked perfectly. I did not taste the chives as much as I expected to, but other than that, this was great. I doubled the recipe and froze some for another night.


2 cups flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 chopped chives

1 cup grated cheddar

1 1/4 cups heavy cream


Mix flour, baking powder, salt and chives. Stir in cheese with a fork. Add 1 cup of cream and fold with a rubber scraper or your hands until just absorbed. Continue adding cream, 1 tbsp at a time until it just comes together and there are no dry patches.

Press the dough with your hands into a 3 x 10 rectangle and cut into 8 triangles. Refrigerate on the baking sheet for 1 hour. Then brush with 1/4 cup additional cream and sprinkle each with a pinch of cheese. Bake at 400 for 16-20, rotating halfway through.

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Martha Mondays

November 16, 2010

Reminder that the next few picks are up here:

Announcement and Giveaway

November 16, 2010

I have some fun, fun, fun news! First of all, I am proud to announce my new blog: NoPotCooking. This is my latest endeavor and is all about parchment paper packet cooking.  This new, revolutionary way of cooking allows you to seal in flavors; produce moist, low-fat,delicious food; and do so without using any pots or pans. That means little or no clean up. I don’t know about you, but the bane of my existence is those pots and pans that pile up in my kitchen waiting to be washed. Ugh. This cooking method avoids that completely. I am LOVING it. Please stop by and visit me there! There’s lots of info on the “about” and “technique” pages as well as the blog posts.

Now for the giveaway. MSLO has been kind enough to send me some Martha Stewart Crafts product samples to try and will be giving away TEN of each item to my readers.  These are all holiday themed items that you totally are going to love. I’m going to be spacing the giveaways out, so check back regularly.

Today, to get things started, I have TEN Martha Stewart Crafts Punch Around the Edge Sets in Snow Flurry, so I can select TEN winners. How cool is that? These are incredible. With the two pieces, you can completely punch around a piece of paper. They’re easy to use and I love the snow flake pattern. It’s perfect for making holiday gift tags, cards, or scrapbooking. Here’s how to win. Leave a comment on this post, then visit NoPotCooking and subscribe to the blog via email (on the right hand side, click on the email link under “follow this blog” before Saturday, November 20, 2010. I’ll randomly and blindly select ten winners by random number drawing (numbers assigned in order of subscription time). Sorry, offer limited to U.S. addresses only and entrants age 18 and up only. One entry per person. Winners notified by email given when entering, not responsible for email transmission problems. You are responsible for notifying me of your correct  address if you are selected as a winner. Contest closes at midnight Eastern time on 11/19/10. Prize is nontransferable and may not be redeemed for cash. MarthaAndMe reserves the right to announce the name of the winner on the blog. Prizes will be sent by MSLO to winner.

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Martha Mondays: Thanksgiving Table

November 15, 2010

Thanks to Karen at Karen and Charlie’s Kitchen for choosing this week’s pick-your-own project  – Thanksgiving tablescapes. I liked the one where you make a small pumpkin into a candleholder, so I did a trial run with that, which looks sort of lame since it’s crooked. I guess you need a straighter pumpkin to get it to work! I just hacked away at it with a knife to make the hole, then pushed the candle in. I like this idea a lot, even if mine wasn’t the greatest in execution!

Here’s a photo of a centerpiece I bought a few years ago (I think I got it at the grocery store to be honest!) and which I really still love a lot.

Ham and Cheese Puff Tart

November 12, 2010

I totally love puff pastry. A few years ago my mom bought a ton of it from a bakery supply place and it was SO much better than the Pepperidge Farms stuff I get at the grocery store. That’s long gone though and I’m back to Pepperidge Farms, oh well.

This tart sounded so good to me – puff pastry with ham and cheese inside. It was easy to make, once you get the puff pastry to defrost. Roll the two sheets out to 10 x 13 size. Put one on the baking sheet. Cover with 6 slices of ham, 1 cup Gruyere and a cream sauce made with 1 tbsp butter, 1 1/2 tbsp flour (melt butter then cook with flour till golden) and a pinch of nutmeg with 1 cup milk (whisk it in and cook until thickened). Cover with the top sheet of puff pastry, brush with egg, and cut some vents. Bake at 400. The recipe says 30 min but mine was done in 20 min.

This was good, but it desperately needed mustard. If I ever made this again I would either mix some Dijon into the cream sauce or maybe just slather a thin layer on the pastry. Other than that it was good. It smelled good, looked good and tasted good, if a bit bland. We had it for dinner with salad and soup.

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Updated Martha Mondays Picks and Some News

November 11, 2010

I thought I would update this, since I’ve got another pick to add:

Megan at Megan’s Cookin has chosen Cheese Straws for 11/22

Sara at Sassy Suppers has chosen  leftover turkey recipes for 11/29

Pru at Perfecting Pru has chosen Iced Thumbprint Cookies for 12/6

Lyndsey at Tiny Skillet has chosen Paper Snowflakes for 12/13

Now for some news! Do you like Martha Stewart Craft items? Well, stay tuned, because here at MarthaAndMe there is going to some amazing opportunities to win many Martha Stewarts Craft products. I’ll have details soon!

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Galette

November 11, 2010

This recipe is from November Everyday Food. I made the alternate version of the recipe (described on p. 101) which replaces broccolini with broccoli and feta with goat cheese. I also used a store bought pie crust. You put your crust on a baking sheet, spread the goat cheese on it (I used 2 oz – I should have used more), place some parboiled broccoli on top and sprinkle with parmesan. Fold the edges of the crust up and brush with egg. Bake at 400 for about half an hour.

This was good, but not fantastic. It was a different way to eat broccoli at least, which shows up on our dinner table at least once a week.

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Orange Balsamic Chicken

November 10, 2010

This recipe is from Nov Everyday Food. I was desperate for something quick on a busy weeknight and chicken is usually what I turn to on those nights. I thought I would give this recipe a try. I altered this to fit my needs, so I’ll share my version of the recipe with you (Martha uses chicken thighs and wedges of oranges with the skin on in hers and cooks hers in the oven after browning it).

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded thin

salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 chicken broth

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 Clementine tangerines, peeled and broken into 3-4 sections each

1 tbsp butter

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken breasts in a skillet over medium high heat with the olive oil. Add the chicken broth. Add the vinegar and tangerine pieces. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes and liquid is reduced (remove chicken and continue reducing if the liquid is not reduced enough when the chicken is done). Add the butter and stir until melted.Pour sauce over chicken.

This was a huge, huge hit with my family. And honestly it’s so incredibly easy that I didn’t tell them I did almost nothing to it. It was moist, velvety, and rich with flavor. Truly a fantastic weeknight dish that will make you look like a star.

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