Saturday, September 27, 2014

Herbed Butter, Herbed Garlic Bread, & Herbed Butter Pats

An easy and delicioius twist on garlic bread. 


Use the freshest herbs possible.  Mince herbs, and adjust flavors according to your personal taste preferences.   
Gently mix herbs into room temperature butter. 

Variations: Spread onto a french bread loaf, wrap with foil, and heat for a zesty garlic bread - see below 

May be made ahead as fancy butter pats for rolls and breads, by spooning mixture into a frosting piping bag with a large tip, and piping the butter into pats on a piece of wax or parchment paper, and freezing to sabilize shape.  Keep frozen in a ziplock bag until needed. 

Use butter pats used in pastas, rices, soups etc.       


Fresh Herbed Butter Garlic Bread
Mince and combine the following
1 T. Fresh Parsley
2 T. Fresh Basil
1/2 T. Fresh Rosemary
1/2 T. Fresh Chives
2 Garlic Cloves

Mix into 1 stick of room temperature butter, and season with Kosher salt to taste. 

Slice a loaf of french bread into 1 inch vertical slices, not quite cutting through the bottom crust. Spread herbed butter onto each slice, then wrap bread in foil.  Place in 350* oven for 10-20 minutes - until butter is melted and bread is steaming.  
Serve immediately


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Crispy Tortilla Strips with a Popcorn maker

Last week I made our favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup.  One of our favorite facets of this soup are all of the a la carte toppings that can be added.  Especially the tortilla strips.  Thin, salty, and crunchy mmmm. 


Except that I dislike how long they take to stir, and turn, and stir again, waiting for them to brown. 

And then I saw the pop corn popper on the counter - just begging to be used, and had an epiphany.  
I couldn't believe how easy these were, and the popper took care of everything! 
Note, a "Stir-Crazy" or similar pop corn machine is required for this recipe. 
Tortilla strips - as many as desired, in stacks of 12-15 (corn or flour)
3 Tablespoons Coconut oil, or oil of your choice
coarse salt

Place tortillas in a stack and cut them into 1/2 x 2" strips with a large kitchen knife.  
Turn pop corn popper on, and add oil.  Once oil is heated (seconds), add tortilla strips. Take care not to overfill.  The bottom wire must be able to move the weight of the tortilla strips.  

Note the motion from the blurred parts of the image
Sprinkle with coarse salt, cover with lid and walk away. Check intermittently, and remove when crisped to satisfaction.

Carefully remove with slotted spoon or tongs, and allow grease to drain on a paper towel, over a bowl.  Salt and season to taste. 
Sprinkle over soups or salads

Variation - For a sweet taste, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve over ice cream 
  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tropical Tapioca Pudding with Guava, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Beans

Today, I boiled guavas in a simple syrup, blended the fruit and syrup in my high powered blender, and strained out the seed granules.  It made an amazing nectar.  While my daughter and I thought about just drinking it right then and there, I felt a little guilty about it (I guess it couldn’t be worse than downing a pitcher of koolaid??) so we set off on a quest to figure out how to use this delightful concoction.



In the end, this recipe turned out to be an aromatic treat that my family found comforting with a tropical flair.  I hope you’ll love it as much as we do. 

Tropical Tapioca with Guava, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Beans
3 cups milk
2/3 cups sugar
6 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca
2 eggs, beaten (or substitute 1 Tablespoon of chia for each egg)
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla, plus scrape the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean.  Add bean pod to tapioca for flavor while cooking, but discard prior to serving)

Mix milk, nectar, sugar, and tapioca and eggs/chia in a medium sized pan.  Add cinnamon stick, vanilla bean seeds, and pod. Cook on medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. 
Cool 20 min. Stir. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod.  
Spoon into dessert dishes and serve with a dollop of whipping cream and a vanilla bean sliver, lightly dusted with cinnamon.
Serve warm or chilled. 


  

Fizzy Guava Refresher, Guava Nectar, and Guava Syrup

While living in Central America, I fell in love with several tropical fruits - one of them, the guava. While delightfully aromatic and sweet, they full of tiny seeds that are as hard as rocks...as in really, a mouthful of gravel.  Each time I find them at my local asian produce market, I take some home with hopes of figuring out how to really use these for something more than just boiling for the amazing smell.  I won't catalogue my failures, but here are some of our favorite guava successes.    

There's not much that beats the smell of ripe guavas boiling on the stove in a simple syrup with a cinnamon stick. Here's how to make it into something that tastes great too.

Guava Syrup
4-6 ripe guavas
6 cups of boiling water
1.5 cups of sugar
1 cinnamon stick

In a medium sized pan, add sugar, then boiling water.  Stir until combined.  Rinse and trim ends of guavas, then quarter, and add with a cinnamon stick to the sugared water.  Boil for 30-45 minutes until guavas are very soft and the mixture has reduced to a light syrup.

Strain through a tight seive. Discard fruit and cinnamon stick.

Syrup can be used to flavor baked goods, puddings, frostings, ice cream, glazes, salads, etc.
Thicken with 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon butter for a pancake/breakfast syrup.

Guava Nectar
Prepare the simple syrup as above, except prior to straining mixture, remove cinnamon stick, and pour fruit, seeds, and syrup into a high speed blender and blend thoroughly.  Strain and discard seed granules with a tight sieve, or a layer of cheese cloth.

Use in smoothies, cakes, puddings, asian cooking bases etc.

Fizzy Guava Refresher
Guava Nectar (above)
Seltzer Water, or Ginger Ale
Ice
Mint (optional garnish)

Mix equal parts of the nectar with seltzer water or ginger ale for a fizzy, refreshing tropical drink.  Serve over ice, and garnish with mint.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Smoky Baba Ghanoush

 I first had babaghanoush at a Turkish restaurant, and totally fell in love with it.  
What is it you may ask? 
In a nutshell - roasted eggplant, tahini (a sesame based paste), garlic, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and olive oil.   
 For any of those eggplant haters out there - I'm with you.  My mom made it when I was a kid - hated it.  I tried it several different ways as an adult, and just hated it.  Then I had babbaganoush, and am totally in love - it tastes nothing like eggplant to me this way. 

The babaghanoush gets a smoky flavor from being roasted, as in roasted to a char. 

Lightly spray grill with cooking spray for easy turning. 
Place two medium sized egg plants on the grill (some recipes say poke them, but they fill with steam and cook better without holes).  While they can be roasted on a gas range, or in the oven, a grill really brings out the smoky flavor.  
Grill for 15-20 minutes, and then very carefully turn. Roast an additional 15-20 minutes, until the eggplant is so charred that you are completely sure that it is inedible.  

Remove from grill, wrap in foil and let it steam for 15 minutes.  
Carefully make a lengthwise slit in the eggplant and open.  With a spoon, scrape out all of the flesh from the inside of the eggplant. 



Place flesh into a salad spinner and gently spin to remove excess liquid. 



Place in a bowl, and add three minced garlic cloves, and two Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.  Mix until it becomes creamy. 

Mix in three Tablespoons of tahini then, while mixing, slowly drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil into mixture.  Continue to mix until it is thoroughly incorporated.  
Stir in 1/4 cup chopped parsely. 
Season with 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt (to taste).   


Serve with lavas(h), naan, roti, or pita chips/bread, crackers or veggies. 

Smoky Babaghanoush
2 medium sized egg plants
3 Tablespoons tahini
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Roast egg plant on gas grill for 30-40 minutes, until blackened and charred, turning once.  
Enclose in foil and allow to sit for 15 minutes. 
Carefully scoop out flesh (discard charred bits), and place in a salad spinner, and gently spin to remove excess liquid. 
Place in a medium sized bowl and mix until creamy with lemon juice and garlic. 
Add tahini, and while mixing, slowly drizzle in olive oil.  
Stir in parsley, and add salt to taste. 
Serve with lavas(h), naan, roti, pita chips, veggies, or crackers. 




Friday, September 12, 2014

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe comes from my friend Freddy, from an old church cookbook. Perfect for fall, to fill up your home with all fragrant spices.



1 c. softened butter
4 eggs
1.5 c. flour
1/4 t. cinnamon
2 c. sugar
1 c. cooked pumpkin
1.5 t. pumpkin spice
1 t. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, then, pumpkin, and vanilla.
Sift in the flour, and spices, and mix well.

Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan, and bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes.

Cool before frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (6 oz.) package of cream cheese
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. softened butter (1 stick)
1.5 c. powdered sugar.

Blend the room temperature cream cheese with the butter, then add the vanilla and powdered sugar.
Beat well, and spread over brownies.

*Baker's note.  These do not freeze well.    

Friday, August 22, 2014

Rosemary Butternut Squash

Just in time for Fall.  
If you are a Butternut squash and rosemary fan, this is a must try. 
It was amazing tasting, aromatic, and my kids loved it. 


2 butternut squash, peeled, gutted, and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
3 Sprigs of fresh rosemary
Sea Salt to taste

Heat oven to 425*.  Place squash and two sprigs of rosemary in a large mixing bowl, and toss to coat with 1.5 Tablespoons of coconut oil. 
Place uncovered in oven in foil lined baking dish or sheet with edges. 
Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until squash is fork tender. 

Heat remaining coconut oil in a small frying pan, and once hot, add rosemary.  Cook until just before the rosemary begins to crisp.  Pour over cooked squash, salt to taste, and gently toss.  Serve warm. 

Eight Grain Meatless Meatloaf, or Meatless Tex Mex Base

This recipe uses eight grains, and natural ingredients. While it can easily be classified as "vegan" or "vegetarian", it is basically, "grain loaf and black bean burger meet Mexico".
While I originally served this as a tex-mex style meatloaf, I very quickly realized what an amazing non-meat base this can be used for in hispanic cooking (which I love).  A perfect meatless base for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tostadas, taco salad...you get the point.  

One beauty of this recipe is that as there is no raw meat, everything can be adjusted according to taste and preference for flavor, even prior to baking.  Taste as you go! 

1.5 cups cooked black beans (recipe here)
1.5 cups cooked, then blended wheat berries (wheat berry recipe)
1 cup cooked black rice (other rices may be substituted)
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
2 Tablespoons chia
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed (garnish)
1.5 Tablespoons chili powder
1.5 Tablespoons cumin
4 diced garlic cloves
1/2 medium onion, diced
1.5 cups corn
1 - 1.5 cups broth (vegetable, or any other if not going vegan or vegetarian) or wheat berry juice
1/2 cup salsa or pico de gallo (recipe)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
4 mini peppers diced
2.5 teaspoons key lime juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
JalapeƱos (optional - to taste) 
Sour cream & cheese for garnish (not vegan)

Heat oven to 350* F. 
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix all ingredients except flax seed.  When adding the broth, take care not to add too much.  The mixture should be moist, but still hold its shape.  
Divide mixture and place into two greased/oiled bread loaf pans (9x4 or 5). 
Cover with foil and bake until heated through (approx. 25 minutes) 
Remove foil and allow to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes to allow outside to harden and form a bit of a crust.  

Serve with chopped jalapeƱos, pico de gallo (recipe), salsa, freshly diced onion, sour cream, or cheese etc.  Sprinkle with crushed flax seed (it loses its nutrient value when heated). 

May be served on a bed of lettuce with tortilla chips, fresh tomatoes, olives, pico de gallo, and cheese as a rice and beans component for a taco salad, or used as the 'meat' base for enchiladas, tacos, or spread upon tostada tortillas.  
  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Jack Fruit: Nuts and Smoothies



Every time I go to the Asian market, we buy something new, and jack fruit was this week's experimental fruit.
Now, the owner of the store said that it is sweeter than pineapple and really yummy.  We bought it last night and left it on the counter overnight.
They sold it cut in half and in retrospect, I realize that it was on the edge of expiration, But I didn't know that when I was buying it.
It wasn't cheap, and we really liked it-the parts that weren't rotten that is.
While it is great in fruit salads and also by itself, we also boiled the nuts for 25 minutes. ( until fork tender) peeled off the outer shell and enjoyed the nuts by themselves.
Since we live in Florida, we decided to try our hand at growing one ourselves- then we can enjoy it green or ripened!
Here's a recipe for a fantastic smoothie using jack fruit.
My kids even liked this one :)

1/2 cup Jack fruit
2 sprigs fresh mint
2 sprigs chocolate mint ( if you can find it)
2 sprigs stevia
1/2 cup creamed coconut (found in the asian market refrigerator)
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground
3 fresh figs (kombota if you can find them)
1/4 fresh pineapple cut into chunks
2 cups of ice
1 cup of cold water as needed for desired thickness

Blend and serve immediately
No additional sweetener is necessary if the jack fruit is ripe


Friday, July 25, 2014

Cakes

This seems to be a week of cakes, with two more still to go!

This one was done as a white and chocolate checkerboard with a german chocolate filling, a ganache crumb coat, frosted with a chocolate buttercream frosting.
I experimented with a fondant trim on the bottom, lined with edible pearls, which I also used for my drop string intersections.
My greatest discovery was that my pasta maker is perfect for rolling out fondant, and my pizza slicer is great for cutting it into the thin strips I needed.
A pasta maker - who knew? 
(said in a Flynn Rider from Disney's "Tangled" accent...as in, "Frying pans, who knew?")


This rainbow cake was made for a "Colors" party.  We loved how the cake looked very elegantly done up on the outside, yet was bursting with a party on the inside.  The colored sparkler candles were a hit too.
I used 2 yellow cake mixes (yellow made the colors a little brighter) and scooped 1 & 1/3 cups of batter into small bowls and colored them, then baked them individually - watching them carefully (smaller amounts=less time).

I assembled them with a buttercream frosting, using strawberry jam for filling in between a couple of the layers,to assist the flavor. Little Debbie's strawberry shortcake rolls aren't very tasty to eat, but were fun to border this cake with.


Finally - I've made this cake for the past two years in a row!  A decadent chocolate cake, filled with , coconut and toffee cake.
Thanks to my friend Rose Williams helped me figure this recipe out - she's a very talented chef and food stylist.
This is made as a decadent chocolate cake, with a coconut/toffee filling, crumb coated with a chocolate ganache, and a white chocolate buttercream frosting - decorated with Heath Toffee Bits.  





Toffee and Coconut Filled Chocolate Cake

Chocolate, Toffee and Coconut Filled Cake – with Rose Williams


Thanks to my friend Rose - a great chef and food stylist who helped me come up with this recipe to satisfy a sweet tooth for a birthday!  

I was thrilled to find that Rose's preferred chocolate cake recipe is the same one I use - straight from Hershey.  

Chocolate - Toffee filling:
1 1/3 whipping cream
7 T unsalted butter, diced
2 T. sour cream
2 T vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. English Toffee bits
1 2/3 c. melted milk chocolate chips

Stir cream and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and mixture comes to a boil. 
Remove from heat.
Add melted chocolate chips and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Fold in toffee bits.  Let stand at room temperature until cool and slightly thick but still pourable, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

Coconut filling:
In a medium saucepan, mix 2 cups of dried unsweetened coconut with 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and the same amount of milk.  Bring to a boil, and cook until thickened and reduced.  Allow to cool.

Ganache: Scald 1.5 - 2 cups of Whipping Cream. 
Slowly pour whipping cream over 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips and mix to a spreading consistency.  Allow to cool and thicken.  

Italian Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

Melt 8 oz of milk chocolate, using double boiler.  Set aside to cool. 

In a mixing bowl, add 9 egg whites, and 1.5 cups of sugar.  Place the bowl over a pan with water, and turn the stove on.  Mix the eggs with the whip attachment - mixing until the eggs are warm, but be careful not to cook the eggs.  

Place contents in a mixer and whip at high speed until soft peaks are formed.  Reduce speed, and add 6 tablespoons of room temperature butter, a small bit at a time - allowing it to become incorporated.  
Add the melted milk chocolate.  

If the butter doesn't melt well, place the bowl over the boiling double boiler for a few seconds, then remove and whip again. 


Directions:
Cut two 9 inch round cakes into 3 layers.
Freeze cake for easier handling.
Pipe each layer (on the inside edge) with ½” seam of chocolate ganache to contain and seal fillings. 

Fill alternating layers with chocolate toffee filling, and coconut filling.  Use thin dowels if necessary to keep cake from sliding.  Freeze.

Apply thin layer of ganache for crumb coat.  Immediately refrigerate. Once set, apply 2nd thicker coat of ganache OR frosting. 
Garnish with coconut or toffee bars/bits.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Rainbow Jello, Layered Jello Jigglers, Jello Ribbons

My friend saw these and said, 'those are the kind of treats you always see and pin, but never actually make'.
These are jigglers, so they are perfect finger food for appetizers, hors d'oeuvres, parties etc. as they hold their shape and don't need utensils.  
Be warned - they take a long time.  Plan between 2.5 - 3 hours.  
I multi tasked cleaning my kitchen, made a batch of cookies for tomorrow's dinner, and listened to a book on tape while I made these, waiting for them to set. 

Because I knew I'd be making many layers - I used my largest pan.  My trusty 10x15 inch cake pan.  Whatever mold you use, it just needs to be able to hold a large volume. (I did see something similar done in a bundtcake pan with frilly edges) 

You can layer the jello colors anyway that you'd like - I followed the ROYGBIV rainbow pattern.  Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo (skipped that one), Violet. 
I originally saw a version of this on the Pioneer Woman, and added the rainbow twist.  

Here's what's needed.  
12 packets of unflavored gelatin
6 small boxes of jello - colors and flavors of your choice
3 cans of sweetened condensed milk
Boiling water (an electric tea kettle is a dream)

Prepare 10x15" pan by lightly spraying with cooking spray, then gently wiping off to remove excess residue.

If you are going in rainbow order, do ROYGBIV backwards so that the violet (purple) will be on the bottom.  Start with grape jello for the first layer.  
Here is the order: Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red

Layer #1
In a small bowl,  mix 1 packet of unflavored gelatin with 1/4 cup of water.  
Add 1 cup of boiling water and mix.
Add 1 box of jello.  Gently stir until dissolved. 
Pour into pan, and place in fridge to cool - until set.  Approximately 15 minutes.  

While it cools, make the filling layer. 

Filling
Mix 2 unflavored gelatin packets with 1/2 cup cold water in a small bowl. 
Mix one can of sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup boiling water. 
Add gelatin mixture to the milk and water, then add another 1/2 cup of boiling water. 
(Depending on how thick you want your filling, you can use this for two or three layers.  Don't make it all at the same time though, as it may begin to set as it cools on the counter)

One the jello has set, remove from refrigerator, and pour 1/3 to 1/2 of the filling mixture over the first layer. Return to the fridge to cool and set.  

Repeat layering jello and filling as desired.   

Cover with plastic wrap, and place in fridge for several hours or overnight.  

Cut into 1"x 2" cubes, or cookie cutters, and keep refrigerated unless serving.  








Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Suckers and Lollies

As a child, we used to make a lot of suckers. They were so good that my sister started selling them to raise money for a summer camp she wanted to attend.
Our favorites were always a toss up between root beer, and cinnamon.




I didn't have my mom's recipe handy, so I searched the web and found numerous recipes which all pretty much looked like this:

2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water
2 cup corn syrup
food coloring and flavoring

Additional supplies: sucker sticks, molds, candy oils or flavoring extracts.



Place the sugar, corn syrup and water into a heavy bottomed pot and stirring constantly, over medium heat, bring to a boil.  (Coat measuring cup with cooking spray for easier pouring if desired).



Once the mixture begins to boil, place a candy thermometer in pan, and cook without stirring until it reaches the hard crack stage or 310* F.  



Add the flavoring and stir quickly, then pour into prepared molds, onto a Silpat or parchment paper (lightly sprayed with cooking oil), or a granite or marble countertop (which I'd never tried before, but was a dream).  



Quickly, before it can cool, place a sucker stick into each sucker, and twist the stick to coat (the buddy system is great here).  



Allow to cool, for approximately 10-20 minutes.  

Wrap each individual sucker in plastic wrap.  When prying off counters/pans/molds, be careful not to pull from the stick as it will break the sucker.  



Friday, April 25, 2014

Kale and Quinoa Asian Style Soup

Here's my twist on an Asian style soup I tried yesterday. I loved the use of kale and quinoa, and especially my kid's reactions - they LOVED it (and they don't like kale or quinoa)! Even my pickiest had seconds, and asked that I make it again, and my youngest requested this broth next time she is sick. 
This soup was incredibly filling.  Halfway through the bowl we were all surprisingly full.   
The original recipe called for tofu - yet, no matter how it is served, I just can't love tofu (or eggplant, but that's another story).  As such, I've adapted this recipe to fit my family's tastes - and it definitely isn't vegetarian.  Healthy, filling, simple. Family friendly. Check!

1.5 c. cubed or shredded cooked chicken 
1 T. olive oil
1 large onion - chopped
4 carrots - chopped
4 large garlic cloves - minced
1 T. turmeric (I used fresh, and grated it - careful, it stains)
1/4 c. dried mushrooms, broken into bite size pieces (optional)
1/2 c. dry quinoa
2 c. chicken broth or vegetable broth
4 c. boiling water
(OR 1 quart boiling water, and 3 T. Knorr chicken soup bouillon instead of the broth and water
1 bunch kale, leaves only, chopped)
2.5 T. miso
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 chopped scallions - green and white
Chopped avocado - optional 

Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Add carrots and onion, and saute until tender.  Add garlic and turmeric and stir to combine, then add quinoa and bouillon (if using), and mushrooms, and cook for three minutes, stirring constantly.  Add chicken, and boiling water, and cover with a lid and allow to cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Add kale.  Cook until tender - approximately 3 minutes, then remove from heat and mix in miso.  Mix well so that miso disolves properly. 

Garnish with red peppers, avocado, and scallions and serve immediately.    


  





Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Strawberry Lemonade Cake, OR Pink and White Checkerboard Cake with Lemon Curd Filling


This cake is made using strawberry and white or  lemon cake mixes, and is filled with lemon curd, with buttercream frosting.  Checkerboard cakes are very simple to make, and I love to hear the gasps when the cake is sliced and served.   


1 Box Strawberry Cake mix
1 Box White or Lemon Cake mix

Prepare and bake cakes as directed, using two 9 inch rounds for each mix. Remove cakes from pans, and allow to cool.  Wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze for 1-3 hours for easier handling. 
Use household items to cut cocentric rings in each cake (ie the lid to a sour cream carton, 
a small bowl for the next ring, and a tablespoon turned upside down for the final inner ring).  
Carefully take each layer apart and re-assemble cake rounds, alternating rings. 
Layer rounds, and fill each layer with lemon curd.  Crumb coat with curd and freeze prior to decorating if desired. 
 I used Ina Garten's Lemon Curd recipe - as follows: 
3 lemons
1.5 c. sugar
1 stick butter - room temperature
4 large eggs
1/2 c. lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
1/8 t. kosher salt

Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, avoid the white pith. Place in a food processor, along with sugar, and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar. 
Cream the butter, and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt.  Mix until combined. 

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken just below a simmer.  Remove from heat and cool or refrigerate.
 
Frost and decorate with Decorator's Buttercream Frosting

1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
4 c. powdered (confectioner's) sugar
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
Assorted food colors

Cream shortening and butter together.  Mix in vanilla.  Slowly add in powdered sugar, then add milk or additional powdered sugar as needed. Mix colors as needed. 
 





Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools - Repost

Since it has been 4  years since I originally posted this - I'm reposting - since it is a much loved tradition in our home...one that our kids talk about, and wait for all year long. 

Here's our traditional April Fool's Day dinner.
Much to my children's delight, our "spaghetti and meatballs" are the main entree, and our "cupcakes" are our dinner entree.


Our spaghetti is made from a slice of cake (anything BUT angel food cake will do) centered on a plate, then covered with small strands of frosting piped from a frosting bag (or a very stiff sweetened whipping cream if angel food cake is used). The entire concoction is then covered with a sauce made of blended fresh strawberries and a touch of sugar.
Our meatballs are 'chocolate no bake cookies' - rolled into balls before they completely cool.


For Dessert, I use the meatloaf recipe from Feet of Meat for our 'cupcakes' and cook it in muffin tins, and frost the (meatloaf) cupcakes with mashed potatoes, and sprinkle with chives. 


 Once a year folks!



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Double cut cookies - how to get perfectly uniform sugar cookies

Sometimes I'm a day late and a dollar short. 
This particular day turned into two days, but everyone is still sleeping, so I'm safe for a few more hours.  


Add caption
I was up late, making cookies for neighbors and friends for Valentine's Day tonight, and I crossed into the next day.
Why am I blogging this at 1:00 am?
Because I had a sugar cookie epiphany.  I finally had a few free moments of quiet to myself and was amazed what my mind came up with - several epiphanies, but only one regarding cookies.
So here it is:
I took my favorite standby sugar cookie recipe, HERE  and just made normal cookies.
(I did substitute the vegetable shortening with coconut oil.  All of it, and liked how they turned out, but that's another story).

As the cookies baked and I saw the cute hearts begin to lose their cute shapes and tight lines, the epiphany struck.

After cooling the cookies, but before they were too cool, I took my trusty cookie cutter (the one I had just cut them with), and I cut them again.  I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but suddenly, I have a ton of UNIFORM cookies!  Which look great.  And will be easier to frost.

I like the crisp lines, and am thrilled with the results.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Quinoa Granola Bars

I stumbled across this recipe this morning, and LOVE how these granola bars turn out (after a few tweaks)
The perk is that these tasty granola bars are made with all natural products - quinoa, oats, peanut butter, honey, coconut, coconut oil, and nuts and fruits of one's choosing.  Nothing that I can't pronounce, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
I don't feel guilty giving them to my kids to snack on, and know they'll get lots of energy from these yummy bars. 


1 C. uncooked quinoa
1 C. uncooked oats
1/2 C. coconut
1 C. combination of your favorite dried fruits & nuts
(think dates, raisins, blueberries, cranberries, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, peanuts etc)
1/4 t. salt
2 T. chia seeds
3/4 C. honey
1/2 C. peanut butter
3 T. brown sugar
1.5 T. coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350, and spread uncooked quinoa and oats on a cookie sheet.  Toast for 8-10 minutes. 
Place in a large bowl, and add coconut, 1 cup of any combination of chopped dates/craisins/raisins/walnuts/almonds/pecans etc. of your preference (I used walnuts, craisins, and raisins), and chia.


In a small saucepan, combine salt, honey, peanut butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar. 
Bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat as it begins to boil.

Pour over oats mixture and mix until dry ingredients are completely coated.  
Press into greased 9x13 pan, and bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool for up to 2 hours, then cut for serving. 

If desired, mix 1 cup melted semi sweet chocolate chips with 1 Tablespoon coconut oil.
Dip cut granola bars into chocolate mixture, then place on parchment paper until hardened. 
Wrap individually, and store in cool, dry place. 


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sauerkraut

Yes, I did say Sauerkraut. 
Who knew you could make this stuff? 
We've been on a bit of a pro-biotic kick lately, and honestly I was scared to make this, but it was one of the easiest recipes ever.  Really.  Three ingredients and 15 minutes (and 3-10 days).


1 head cabbage (about 3 pounds).  Wash & trim it.  Then cut into wedges, and then cut into very thin ribbon like slices.
Place in a large bowl. 
Cabbage at beginning of kneading process
note the liquid in bottom of bowl
Sprinkle 1.5 Tablespoons of coarse sea salt over cabbage.

Begin to knead the cabbage, squeezing any juice from it.  This will take approximately 5-10 minutes. Add 1/2 t. caraway seeds for flavor if desired (I loved the caraway).

The cabbage will change and begin to appear wilted. It will also become rather juicy.  At this point, pack it into a clean quart jar (or two).  Pour any juice into jar and tamp down to remove any air pockets.
Cover with a thin piece of material and a rubber band, and place in a dish, in a cool, dark area and wait for the fermentation to begin.
Check it in 3 days, and depending on strength and preference, between 3-10 days remove it, place a jar lid on it, and refrigerate it.  
I forgot to add my caraway earlier - don't do that!
Ready to begin fermenting...
We ate it on hot dogs tonight. I'm not a fan of those things, but tonight - I was pretty darn impressed with my hot dog...the sauerkraut was pretty amazing!

Kale Chips

I really love kale - I used to buy it and use it in crudites baskets, just for it's fluffy and frilly texture.  What was I thinking?  
I guess I've officially joined the kale craze.  While I can't substantiate it, the recipe show I was watching while at the dentist's waiting room the other day stated that it has the most calcium of any of the vegetables.  
Really, I don't care. 
I just love it. 
So, my kids decided to they wanted to make kale chips. 
Then they ate them all. 
After they oohhed and aaahhhhed about the water reduction that takes place during this process. 

Grab a bunch of kale - frilly leaved is my favorite
Wash and pat it dry
Tear into bite sized pieces discarding  stalks (or save for soup stalk)
Toss in a bowl with just enough olive oil to coat (1 T)
Sprinkle with coarse sea salt (1 t.)
Add garlic powder (1/4 t.) (or minced fresh garlic) (optional if you are a vampire) 
Spread out on cookie sheet (line with parchment paper or use silpat)
Place in preheated oven and bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes
 
Check it every now and then because it won't look too different when it is done. 

It will look like this when it is done...really, it doesn't reduce THAT much - but my kids couldn't keep their hands off of it before I could get the picture taken. 


Monkey Bread

Grands!® Monkey Bread
Ooohhh la la - this stuff is crazy good. 
Many years ago, my friend made this for me.  Wanting to make them for myself, I found the recipe in an old church cookbook, but it was missing several ingredients, so when I made it, it wasn't very good. 
Fast forward 12 years, on a quest to find a decent recipe for these, I came across one on the Pillsbury website, which we have tweaked a bit... 
We love pecans with these, and didn't like the crunchy sugar on top, and found that combining the sugar and butter prior to adding it to the biscuits, eliminates the crusty sugar chunks.  In my family's review of them - they were a hit! 

Ingredients

1/2
cup granulated sugar
1
teaspoon cinnamon
2
cans (16.3 oz each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2
cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans, if desired

1
cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4
cup butter or margarine, melted

Steps

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.

  • In a small pan, mix brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil, until combined. Set aside to cool.

  • Separate dough into 16 biscuits, then cut each into quarters.  Shake in bag with cinnamon and sugar to coat. Arrange in pan - add toasted walnuts or pecans among biscuit pieces if desired. 

  • Pour cooled brown sugar and butter mixture over biscuit pieces. 

  • Bake for 28-23 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn upside down on serving platter.  Pull apart to serve; serve warm. 
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