Sunday, June 16, 2013
It's Secret Recipe Club time once again. This month I was assigned the coolest blog. Lavender and Lime is written by Tandy, who lives in South Africa. I have to say, I had the best time reading her blog. For one thing, her life is so different from my own. I loved reading her stories and tidbits about her daily life. But best off all, I learned a ton from her! I spent the past few weeks with 2 windows open whenever I read her blog. One was Lavender and Lime and the other was Google. There were so many ingredients I'd never heard of and methods I wasn't familiar with (at least I wasn't familiar with the terms she used for them). So this month was a bit of a challenge for me.
I wanted to use an ingredient I hadn't worked with before, but that was available in my area. So as I went through her mouthwatering recipes, I decided on her Chocolate fudge Brownie Parcels. And let me say, they were delicious! I loved learning to work with Phyllo dough. I've always been a little intimidated by Phyllo because I've heard how hard it is to work with. But this recipe helped me over come my fears and I won't skip over a recipe just because Phyllo is an ingredient like I have in the past.
I did have to make a change or two. Her original recipe called for fudge. I wasn't sure what kind she used. The only kind of fudge I know of besides the stuff I make at Christmas (that wouldn't work in this recipe at all) is hot fudge. I know it probably isn't remotely like what Tandy uses, but it added a great fudgy quality that my family loved. Other than that, I kept things as close to Tandy's recipe as possible.
As we sat around the table eating these little beauties for dessert, we all decided that they were screaming for strawberries, and wouldn't you know, I didn't have any. They are so rich and chocolaty that a nice tart berry would have been perfect perched on top of the sweet cream.
So thank you Tandy for a wonderful dessert and for teaching me so much about cooking in South Africa! I can't wait to see what amazing dish you come up with next!
Chocolate Fudge Brownie Parcels
Makes about 8
4 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs. flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot fudge sauce (I used it straight out of the jar. Don't warm it.)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pkg. phyllo pastry
Melted butter for brushing
Melt the butter and chocolate over a hot water bath and mix until smooth. Add the hot fudge and stir until smooth.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.
Add the eggs and mix until it is smooth and silky. Set aside to cool.
To assemble the parcels:
Heat the oven to 350°. Work with only one sheet of Phyllo at a time, keeping the rest covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Make sure the plastic wrap is between the dough and the wet towel. Cut each sheet of dough into 4 rectangles. Place 1 rectangle into a well greased muffin tin. Use a pastry brush to spread with melted butter. Add another sheet of pastry dough to the same muffin cup and spread with butter. Repeat until you have 4 layers of phyllo in the muffin tin. Repeat with the remaining muffin cups, spreading butter over each layer of dough.
Fill each cup about 1/2 full of brownie batter. Bake for about 15 minutes. The brownies will be slightly doughy and the phyllo will be golden brown. Allow to cool completely. Serve with sweetened whipped cream. Enjoy!!
Monday, June 10, 2013
Grilling season is in full swing, as are the warm temperatures. It was 93° here today. Way to hot for this early in June, and way to hot to be cooking indoors. The air conditioning is barely adequate in our 100 year old house, so we try to keep things cool at all costs. Once the house heats up it takes hours to cool down. Whoever said old homes were "charming" never lived in one. No really, I love my old house, even with all the challenges it has presented in the last 20 years.
I'm getting just a little off subject here. Where was I? Oh yes, grilling. I've really gotten into finding unique recipes to try on the grill. We normally just cook the old stand bys like everyone else, burgers, steak, hot dogs and chicken, but lately I"ve been experimenting with veggies and mushrooms. Its been a lot of fun!
The idea for this recipe came from the caterers at one of my hubby's work parties. They served this great grilled corn that was seasoned with paprika and parsley. It was great but we all thought it was missing something so I took the idea and ran with it. Over the course of last summer I messed around with the recipe and I've come up with something I think is a real winner.
One of the best things about it is that it cooks on the grill right along with the meat. In fact the smokiness of the grill is what makes this corn taste so good. This would be a great side at your Father's Day BBQ this weekend.
Smokey Grilled Corn
½ tsp. Smoked Paprika
½ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
½ tsp. Chili powder
3 tsp. Parsley
Juice of ½ a lime
1 clove minced garlic
1 16 oz. Bag frozen corn (you can also use 2 ½ cups of fresh corn cut off the cob)
Tear off 2 large sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil and place one on top of the other. Fold up the edges to form a foil pan about 8-10 inches across. You could also use a small disposable foil pan for this.
Next to your steaks or burgers, place the foil pan on the grill over medium high heat. Add the butter and allow to melt and get nice and bubbly. Add the corn and the remaining ingredients to the foil pan. Stir to coat the corn with the spices.
Close the lid on the grill and allow the corn to cook right along with your meat. It will soak up the smokey flavor of the grill and be fantastic! Stir it occasionally so it heats evenly and the spices are distributed nicely. Once the corn is heated through, remove from the grill and enjoy!!
**You can also make this on your stove top in a frying pan.**
Source: A Mommy's Original Recipe
Source: A Mommy's Original Recipe
Saturday, June 8, 2013
I have to tell you about the great new blogging group I've joined. It's called #TheSaladBar. Once a month, we all post a salad recipe that fits into the theme for the month. Then we all post at the same time. I can't wait to make the rounds to see everyone else's creations. I've really been making an effort to get more fruits and veggies into our diets, and I think this group will make eating healthy a lot easier.
This month's theme is berries! I was so excited because I love salads with fruit in them, especially berries. I personally think berries and lettuce are a match made in heaven. Add a tangy dressing and I'm in love. Today's salad has some of my very favorite foods mixed together to make a sweet/tart symphony in your mouth. Sweet strawberries, smooth delicious mangos, crunchy candied almonds and of course, bacon. But I think my favorite part of the whole thing is the fresh greens that I picked out of my garden. There is nothing like fresh lettuce and spinach. It is so much better than anything you can buy at the store.
So this salad is a great main dish salad. I served it with some fresh rolls and strawberry lemonade and it made a nice meal on a hot evening. You could also leave out the chicken and serve it as a side salad as well.
Be sure to scroll down and check out all the great salad recipes from other group members.
Strawberry Mango Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing
1 bag baby spinach
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 diced red bell pepeer
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (I seasoned mine with Montreal Steak Seasoning and baked them)
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup candied almonds
Sweet Balsamic Dressing:
2 tsp. dry Italian salad dressing mix
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it. I only used 1/2 a cup.)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup oil
3/4 tsp. paprika
1 Tbs. dried minced onion
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
Start by cooking the bacon. I bake mine in the oven at 400° for about 15 minutes or until it's as crispy as I like it. Drain on paper towels and chop up when it's cool enough to handle.
For the candied almonds, put 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a saute pan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring often. When the sugar starts to melt, stir constantly until the nuts are completely coated in the melted sugar. Turn out onto a piece of foil that you've sprayed with cooking spray. (A word to the wise, NEVER turn these almonds out onto a paper towel, unless you plan to put paper towels on the menu because you'll never get the towel pieces off the nuts.) Allow to cool completely.
For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until it is combined and mixed completely. I used my food processor to really get it mixed up well.
In a large salad bowl, toss the spinach, lettuce, red pepper, chicken, mango and strawberries. Top it off with the bacon and candied almonds. Drizzle with dressing, toss it up and serve immediately.
**This salad doesn't store well so add dressing only to what you plan to eat right away.**
Sunday, April 21, 2013
It's Secret Recipe Club time once again. And like every other month, I was assigned the BEST blog! Cookin' with Moxie is written by Jamie. She is an Italian girl living in Boston and loves to be surrounded by food, family and friends. She has such a fun personality and really lets it show through her writing. Her excitement about her recipes shows too. I had a really hard time deciding what to post today partly because Jamie is so passionate about her recipes and life in general.
I actually made several recipes this month and they were all big hits with my family. And at my house, that's saying a lot because no matter how hard I try to make my kiddos not be picky, they still are. And if you ever hear me saying they aren't, then I'm lying. So it was a real treat for my entire family to find a blog full of such great recipes. I tried the Meatloaf with Creamy Onion Gravy, and the Lemony Cucumber Salad both of which were delicious. And still on my "must try" list are Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars and Avocado Fries with Cilantro Citrus Dipping Sauce (goodness that sounds good, and avocados are on sale this week!).
For this month's SRC, I made Nectarine and Blueberry Cake. I have been so anxious for spring and summer to finally get here it's ridiculous. And I've been looking for lighter more summery (is that even a word?) recipes. This cake really fit that bill. Now I realize there isn't a decent nectarine to be found anywhere in the northern hemisphere right now, and we won't even talk about the state of fresh blueberries from the grocery store. So I had to resort to frozen fruit. Which actually turned out really well. I can only imagine how much better this will be in July or August when fresh fruit is available.
This cake doesn't have much in the way of spices, but that is totally okay. The flavor of even frozen fruit really shined. Then add the cream cheese frosting and it was amazing. Thank you Jamie for your awesome blog! I had such a great time snooping around and I'm your newest follower.
Nectarine and Blueberry Cake
Serves about 12
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large nectarines, coarsely chopped (You can use frozen fruit. Only thaw partially before chopping and mixing into the batter)
2 cups fresh blueberries (You can use frozen berries, do not thaw before adding to batter.)
Garnishes: sliced nectarines, fresh blueberries, lemon rind
Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears. Add vanilla, beating just until blended.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat batter at low speed just until blended. Gently fold in nectarines and blueberries. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
Spread or pipe the Cream Cheese Frosting evenly on top of cake. Garnish, if desired.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar 3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternately with milk, beginning and ending with powdered sugar. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in grated lemon rind and vanilla.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Things have been so busy lately that I've really been relying on my favorite throw together recipes. My kiddos are running on the track team at their high school this year, so I'm having to run into town everyday to pick them up, right at dinner time. It makes it hard to put anything that even resembles a meal on the table. And I have to admit, we've had more YOYO (You're On Your Own) nights than I'm comfortable with. My younger kiddos have even started telling me that if they have to have grilled cheese sandwiches one more time they are going to barf them up in front of me. Yum. So I finally pulled myself together and started to plan ahead a little better than I have been. Usually I'm pretty on top of things, but lately....
I love this chili because if I'm short on time I can have it on the table in 30 minutes and if I plan ahead and make it early in the day I can dump it in the slow cooker on low and it is ready and delicious when we finally have time to eat.
This is also a family favorite. I know I've mentioned my oldest son, Colton's love of food. The kid is 6 foot 4 inches and has 2 hollow legs that also seem to be bottomless pits. All he has to do is smell this cooking and I'm greeted with groans of delight. I always try to make extra because it tastes fantastic as leftovers.
1 (12 oz.) can kidney beans
1 (12 oz.) can pinto beans
1 (12 oz.) can black beans
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 lb. hamburger
1/4 cup diced onion
garlic salt to taste
1 (12 oz.) can green beans, undrained
1 (12 oz.) can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 (12 oz.) can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 pkg. chili seasoning mix
1 cup diced beef stick or kielbasa
1/4 cup ketchup
Drain and rinse the beans. In a large pot, brown the ground beef, onions and garlic salt. Drain any grease. Mix the remaining ingredients in with the ground beef and simmer for 20-30 minutes if you have time or just heat through and serve. At this point, you can transfer it to a slow cooker and leave it on low until you're ready to eat.
Source: Tammy H.
Source: Tammy H.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
My goodness! Time sure flies sometimes. It seems like I look at the calendar and it's the middle of March and the next time I dare to take a peek, April is almost gone. I think it has something to do with being a mom of seven children. My life is consumed with getting everyone where they need to be, helping with homework and keeping my home and garden intact. It's a lot of work, but as I watch these little people grow up to be amazing, mature almost adults I can't help but be grateful for the ride, bumpy though its been.
My oldest son, Colton, is currently obsessed with Asian food and I've pretty much used up my arsenal of Asian recipes to please him. Since he'll soon be gone for 2 years and I'll only be able to talk to him on Christmas and Mother's Day, I've been indulging his every culinary need. As a result, I've found some fantastic recipes.
This chicken has been one of my favorites so far. It is pretty spicy, and next time I'll tone it down for my little ones, but for adults, it's perfect. It made a great meal with rice, steamed veggies and Asian Slaw.
For the chicken:
2-½ pounds Chicken, cut into chunks
2 cups All-purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
Vegetable oil for frying
For the sauce:
3 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Minced Ginger
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha (add More If You Want Them Really Spicy, or less for a milder dish)
1 teaspoon Cornstarch
2 Tablespoons Butter
Optional Garnishes: Sesame Seeds And Finely Cut Green Onions
Add the flour and salt into a large shallow dish and set aside.
Heat a large skillet with an inch or two of vegetable and heat up to 375 F.
While you are waiting for the oil to come to temperature, add the chicken to the flour and salt mixture and toss to coat the chicken lightly in the flour. You will probably have to do this in two batches (same with the frying.)
When the oil is at the appropriate temperature gently add the chicken to the oil.
While the chicken is frying (stir and flip them occasionally over about 12 minutes) begin preparing the sauce.
For the sauce, combine the vinegars, hoisin and the honey in a small bowl. Add the minced garlic and ginger. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce and sriracha and combine well. Whisk in the cornstarch.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and then whisk in the sauce mixture. Cook over medium heat for about 1 minute while the cornstarch thickens.
Remove the golden chicken from the frying oil at about the 12 minute mark and transfer them to a large bowl.
Add half of the sauce (if you have split them into two batches for frying purposes) and toss the chicken to coat it.
Repeat with the rest of the chicken and sauce.
Serve hot with sesame seeds and finely cut green onions to garnish.
Source: Tasty Kitchen
Monday, March 18, 2013
Oooh! I love the Secret Recipe Club! Every month I'm assigned the most amazing blogs. This month, I got to snoop around 365 Days of Baking. Lynne started her blog with the goal to bake everyday for 365 days. (Hence the name.) We must be kindred spirits because I started blogging with a goal to cook outdoors in my dutch oven everyday for a year. So I know how hard it is to keep up with life and still bake and blog everyday. My hat is off to her!
There were so many great recipes on Lynne's blog to choose from. My Pinterest secret board is filled with great stuff. Things like Banana Tres Leches Cake, Pineapple Bread, Root Beer Float Cake and Baked Strawberry Waffles. But interestingly, the first recipe that caught my eye was the one I couldn't stop thinking about trying. It really didn't matter what else there was, I only had eyes for Molasses Gingerbread with Lime Cream.
And, ooh, ooh, ooh this gingerbread is unbelievable! I'm the kind of gal that doesn't eat gingerbread just at Christmas. I love it year round. But unfortunately for all the other gingerbread out there, I only have taste buds for this one now. The gingerbread itself is fantastic with a rich molasses flavor, but the lime cream.... There aren't even words to describe what it does for this cake. It's a miracle that there was any left to serve with the cake because I was eating it by the spoonful. Y.U.M. This is a definite must try recipe. Trust me!
Just a note or two to make this easier to make. First, be very careful when you add the baking soda mixture to the molasses mixture. If you like uber sticky stove top, then by all means use a small pan, add it quickly and don't stir. And lastly, there is no way on earth-- no matter how much butter or shortening and flour you prepare the pan with-- that cake is coming out of the pan in one piece. It ain't happening, so just be prepared to serve it out of the pan it is baked in. I mean really, it has a full cup of molasses in it, what else can you expect?
Now on to the amazing deliciousness!
Molasses Gingerbread with Lime Cream
¼ pound (1 stick) butter, plus more for buttering the pan
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (or ½ teaspoon ground ginger)
1 cup unsulfured molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
Preheat oven to 350ºF, and butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.
Melt the stick of butter, pour into a large bowl, and allow it to cool slightly. Beat the sugar and eggs into the butter.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and grated ginger.
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir the molasses and soda solution into the water.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the sugar and the eggs, then stir in the molasses mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, testing for doneness with a wooden toothpick in the center of the cake (it should pull out clean and free of batter).
Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen the cake, invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Cut into squares and serve with Lime Cream.
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime, grated (about 1 tablespoon)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whisk attachment to whip the eggs and sugar at high speed until double in volume and light in color. Lower the speed and blend in the lime juice and zest.
Pour the egg mixture into a medium metal bowl placed over a pot of simmering water (or a double broiler). Cook over high heat, whisking often, until smooth, very thick, and custard like (about 20 minutes).
Remove from the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir in the butter, a few pieces at a time, until it is fully incorporated. If the final mixture is lumpy, strain though a fine sieve. Otherwise, cool to room temperature.
Using an electric mixer or a wire whisk, whip the heavy cream into soft peaks. Gently fold a fourth of the whipped cream into the lime curd. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream.