Monday, December 21, 2009


Oh by the way...if you have a little girl...know a little have to enter this contest...this skirt is sooo yummy. I wish I could sew sooooo much!

Pumpkins and Beets

How are you doing? I'm good...been cooking a lot, bet you have too. I can't believe it but we are in the home stretch of the holiday season. Makes me kind of sad though, I miss all of the creative dishes that seem to only be around during this time of year. I love how the dishes warm and the desserts sparkle and even the drinks just seem a bit better than usual. On the bright side, there is still a week of the holiday season left and January 1st marks the beginning of comfort food season.
So tonight I am offering up one more dessert (yea right!) and a delectable is FABULOUS...if I must say so myself. Is there anyone out there who doesn't love pumpkin and cake married together and wrapped in frosting? And the salad...mmm. Years ago I worked at a restaurant where we fried up diced potatoes and served them as warm croutons on a salad-super yummy. One day was thinking about the endless possibilities of beets and I said to myself-a potato is a root vegetable, and a beet is a root vegetable.....potatoes are super yummy fried...why wouldn't beets be as well? So I tried it and it was better than a good idea. So make it soon, I know you'll love it.
Oh by the way 3 more days till Chrismas...AAAAGH...I'm so not ready!

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup cream
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
Melt butter, sugar and cream together and cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Cool to room temperature and then beat, cup by cup, the powdered sugar into the caramel. Add vanilla ½ way through. Continue beating until light and fluffy.

2 ½ cups APF
1 ½ cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15 oz pumpkin
½ cup sour cream
2 Tablespoon orange zest
3 Tablespoons orange juice
4 eggs
2 ½ Teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon chinese five spice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 8 inch cake pans. Combine dry ingredients on a piece of parchment paper. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the oil and the sugar. Beat eggs in one at a time until light and fluffy. Add the orange zest and juice, sour cream and pumpkin and blend well. Add the dry ingredientss in slowly. Beat until just combined. Por evenly into 2 pans and hit the pans on the counter to remove bubbles. Bake for 35-40 minutes until tooth pick comes out clean. Completely cool before frosting.
4 crisp apples, cut into wedges
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon oil
1 bunch watercress
2 heads butterleaf or boston
1 head red leaf
2 beets, julienne
4 cups oil
1 Tablespoon shallots
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup gouda cheese, shredded
Slice the apples and toss with the olive oil and sugar. Bake on a foil lined sheet pan for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Bring the vegatble oil to medium high heat and fry the beets for 3 minutes or until crispy. Remove from the oil and let sit on a paper towel for a minute or two. Combine shallots, juices from the apples, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and then add the washed and dried greens. Toss gently adding the gouda. Top with the apples and beets.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

9 more days! How is you're shopping going? Mine....soso. One of these days I'll get ahead of the game...I have been saying that for years...but alas....I have yet to change. Another thing I have yet to change is my need for baking at this time of year. I just can't bring myself to buy the goodies of the season...I have to create them myself. But I think that it grounds me a bit..and puts me in the spirit. I always say: If you don't love it...don't do it. I love it! Here are a few fabulous recipes for you this season. They are simple (of course) and are sure to add a little extra to your backside!
Peppermint Stacks

8 oz cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
4 Tablespoons sour cream
10 peppermint candies

With a mixer, combine the cream cheese and sugar, add the extract and sour cream and beat until smooth. Cool for an hour before using with the cookies. Meanwhile, place the candies on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes in a 400 degree oven until melted and spread out. Cool completely and use as a garnish.

1 1/2 cups APF
3/4 cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pulse flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a food processor to combine well. Pulse in the butter in small chunks until well combined. Add the milk and vanilla. Mixture should come together and be smooth. Spoon the dough onto parchment paper and roll into a log. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cut the dough into thin slices. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes. Cool on baking racks.

Dulce de Leche Bars

1 stick unsalted butter, softened1/3 cup packed light brown sugar1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon salt1 cup all-purpose flour----1 cup dulce de leche
4 egg yolks, beaten8 ounces 60%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle. Butter a shallow 9- to 9 1/2-inch square baking pan . Line bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Butter parchment.
Blend together butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a food processor. Sift in flour and blend until a soft dough forms. Spread dough evenly in baking pan pressing well, then prick all over with fork. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack.
Bring dulce de leche and chocolate to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon until chocolate has melted into the dulce de leche. Temper into egg yolks and cook for just a minute or so.
Pour chocolate mixture over cooled shortbread and chill, uncovered, until cold and set, about 2 hours. Cut with a hot knife.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Festival of Trees

Back at the cookie ornament thing. (see post below)These ones were shellacked, so I'm not so worried about them losing their frosting. The Festival of Trees is a benefit to raise money for Primary Children's Hospital. People donate decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses, and various crafts to be auctioned off. 100% of the proceeds are given to the children's hospital. The members of my barn (where we keep and ride our horses) donated a tree decorated in a western style with horses of course. So, my contribution was to make cookies, of course.

Many of the cookies looked like our horses.

The black one looks like "Mo" the Sorrel lookes like "Chester".

Stars, horse shoes, and ponies

This is what they looked like on the tree And the finished tree.....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hey Baby it's Cold Outside

I would like to announce that it's FREEZING outside. I rarely complain about the weather, but I might complain about the temperature. I'm not sure where the idea of "Comfort Food" originated but I think it must have had to do with nearly freezing to death. This is a wonderful recipe for an Italian style stew called Osso Buco. It is typically made with veal shank, but I like to use beef shank-it is a bit more cost effective as well. The method of braising leaves the most tender meat and beautiful gravy that tastes so great with mashed potatoes.
Now regular mashed potatoes work great with this. But if you don't make the Celebration mashed potatoes with this...promise me that you will make them sometime....they are memorable.
4 beef, veal, or lamb shank
bouquet of rosemary, thyme and parsley (2 sprigs each)
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves
2 cups stewed tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup flour
vegetable oil
2 cups onion, diced
1 ½ cups carrots, diced
1 ½ cup celery, diced
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
Heat large heavy pot on medium high heat and coat the bottom with vegetable oil. Season the flour with the salt and pepper. Tie each shank tightly with twine. Dredge the shanks in the flour mixture and brown the shanks in the hot oil. Remove shanks when both sides are browned. In the same pot add the vegetables adding just a bit of salt and pepper to them. Saute for a few minutes, and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Cook until liquid is reduced to half and then and add the garlic and tomatoes. Finally add the shanks, boquet, and chicken stock. Cover the pot and place in a 350 degree oven for an hour and a half, turning the shanks about half of the way through. The liquid should get a bit thicker but you do not want it to evaporate.
9 russet potatoes
1 cup julienne zucchini
1 cup julienne yellow squash
1 cup julienne carrot
½ cup julienne red onion
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 Tablespoons butter
1 cup sour cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Peel and boil potatoes until tender and flaking. In a saute pan, combine the squashes, carrot, and onion, and saute with just a bit of olive oil, until al dente-adding garlic at the end. Drain the potatoes and beat in the butter, sour cream, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper. Beat until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the sauteed vegetables. Cover and keep warm until service.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I know......I know....delinquent blogger....bad's just been....a busy time. I am sure you all know what I am talking about. Weirdly strange these last couple of weeks. And Christmas...I'm not sure if you know but it's ****WARNING THIS NEXT STATEMENT MAY CAUSE EXTREME STRESS AND TRIGGER OVEREATING****16 days away....AAAAAAGGGHHH.
Sorry....I might need a moment. tick tock tick tock...ok I'm ok...I think. I am so not ready, every year I swear to be ready earlier,but alas, I fail each and every year.
Sooo, this post is concerning why I have been delinquent. A week or so ago, I received a phone call from the Holiday Decorator at the Governor's Mansion. (Yes, the home in which the Governor of the state lives in.) He asked me if I could make some gingerbread cookies for the "Family" tree, in the mansion. The family tree is decorated by the First Lady, and in any way that she wishes. She wanted to decorate it in a way reminiscent of the time in which her children were young. She said that they decorated it with candy canes and ginger cookies that would smell through out the holiday season.
So, I was asked to make non-edible, highly fragrant cookies. How hard could that be? oh, and I had 24 hours to make them! I researched some recipes and found a few similar recipes that substituted spices for flour, thus resulting in the most amazing smelling cookies. Each tray took 2 hours to bake! the rest of the time was spent decorating each cookie with royal icing.
Look at how cute they were!

Each cookie had it's own personality
oooh they smelled sooo good
Girls and boys and even little baby ginger people
My house smelled like those pine cones at the grocery store

We tied red and white raffia ribbon to each one and tied them to the tree
The First Lady was so complimentary.....

Here's the beautiful tree

And name on the Decorating Committee sign! I felt like such a celebrity......

Until yesterday....The phone call went something like this:

"Hello, Sara?"


"This is Caroline from the Governors Mansion."


"The First Lady has asked that I call you and ask if there is any way for you to come and repair the cookies on the tree."

(uncomfortable silence)" the cookies?"

"yes, the frosting has fallen off all of the cookies."


"We will send a motorcade immediately due to the fact that this IS a matter of State security."

(I am so fibbing...I didn't yell "WHAT" and was not offered a motorcade, but, my cookies were shedding and I had 4 hours to fix them before the nights party.) So I rushed downtown bad could they be?....

That bad!!!!

I am not exactly sure what happened, I have my guesses, but I did manage to get them fixed and back on the tree in time. I ended up painting them (with T-shirt bubble paint) instead of risking royal icing again-it worked that a word.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What Happens when a Taco and Stir Fry Fall in Love?

Tonight I was hungry for Asian and tacos. So I improvised with the remnants of the refrigerator. It was a hit. I do however wish I had some cilantro and a lime...but alas, I had none...maybe next time. It needs a name Hunan Taco...what does Hunan mean?....maybe Mexican Samurai....maybe you could help me out. Make it and let me know.


boneless pork loin chops
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, diced
1/2 cup water chestnuts, diced
2 cups napa cabbage, thick shred
2 cups bean sprout
3 Tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
6 tablespoons oyster sauce

With a mallet, pound the chops-so that they are thin but not breaking apart. cut the chops in half and then cut each half into thin strips. Lightly season the flour with salt and pepper and toss the pork with the flour mixture. Heat a heavy skillet or wok to high and add the oil. As soon as it is sizzling hot add the meat and stir fry for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the meat and set aside.
In the same hot skillet, add the vegetables (excluding cabbage and bean sprouts) and stir fry for 5 minutes. Add additional oil if needed. Add the sprouts and cabbage and cook for a few more minutes. Make a well in the center of the pan and add all remaining ingredients and mix the vegetables in. Finally, add the meat. Season carefully with salt and pepper. Serve wrapped in a warm tortilla.