Monday, August 31, 2009

Mirror Mirror On The Wall Who Makes The Bestest Lunch Of All?

I know it's weird, but, I love to pack my kids lunches. I love the challenge of healthy versus fun. I think it's fun to find different things to pack, and different ways to do it. Although I do love the basics, like PB&J and Turkey sandwiches, I try to shake up the daily grind with burritos, edamame, salads and wraps. I am challenged by tiring to keep things cold, and balancing the meal nutritionally. I enjoy making the treats, because I know my chocolate chip cookies or home made fruit rolls are a treat but not full of the unknown. Because I am evil an maniacal, I staple their lunches shut, so lunch is a surprise. I love when my kids come home and tell me lunch was awesome. It may be mundane at the time, but these days are short, and the lessons in eating taught now will last a lifetime.
Now, please know, that I know that these cookies are not low in calories or fat (everything in moderation). But they are better than, they are basic, not full of preservatives, and the kitchen smells so much better than opening a bag of chips ahoy. And besides they are super yummy!


SOFT AND PLUMP CHOCOLATE CHIPPERS
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups chocolate chips



Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.Place formed dough onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets, about nine dough balls per sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Cookies should be cooled on baking sheet-this will ensure that they are soft.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sweet and Sassy

Grilling fruit is an easy way to finish off any meal. I don't necessarily always skewer the fruit, I usually place it right on the grill. But in the case I am entertaining, the skewers are easier for the guests, and everything stays tidy.
But don't be fooled by this dessert, because it really is all about one ingredient, the balsamic vinegar. Whenever I make balsamic syrup, I keep it to myself as to what the ingredients are. I have yet to have anyone not love the rich and warm flavor, but it is rare they can ever put a finger on what it is. It is amazing how simple it is but what a complex flavor it provides. I love it over a bowl of strawberries or peaches. It is fantastic drizzled over pork loin as well. Try it!


GRILLED PINEAPPLE BANANA SPLITS

3 bananas, cut into big chunks
1 frozen pound cake-I know-pre fabbed!!, cut into chunks
1 pineapple, cleaned and cut into chunks
Bottle of maraschino cherries
8 Tablespoons butter, melted
Vanilla ice cream
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
Skewers soaking in water

Alternate the banana, pineapple, and pound cake on a skewer, finishing it off with a cherry. Melt butter and brush evenly on the skewers. Meanwhile, in a skillet, combine brown sugar and vinegar and bring to a bubble over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture sticks to the back of a spoon. Be careful not to cook too long, just about 4 minutes. Scoop a large ball of ice cream and put it in a bowl. Drizzle with the syrup and top off with a skewer.


VANILLA ICE CREAM

4 eggs, beaten
2 ½ cups sugar
7 cups milk
3 cups whipping cream
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 vanilla bean
½ teaspoon salt

Beat the eggs until light and pale adding the sugar slowly. Combine the remaining ingredients and freeze according to your ice cream freezer’s instructions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eggstra Devilish!

Can you guess what these are? Dangerous! Yes my friends, unless you are on a protein diet, these are naughty, naughty.



Crispy Deviled eggs. I always thought deviled eggs were lacking in personality. Soo first, I added the ingredients I add to potato salad...such as pickles and olives. Then instead of making the yolk mixture so darn smooth, I just mash it with a fork. lastly, i top it with a bit of backed prosciutto and a kettle fried BBQ potato chip. Awesome!!

CRISPY DEVILED EGGS

14 eggs, hardboiled and peeled
½ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons sweet pickles, finely diced
2 Tablespoon red onion, finely diced
1 Tablespoon green olives with pimentos, finely diced
Salt, pepper, paprika to taste
6 slices procuitto
Small bag of good potato chips
Remove yolks from eggs and place in a bowl. Mash yolks with a fork and stir in mayonnaise, pickles, olives, onions, and mustard. Add salt and pepper, and paprika to taste. Fill egg whites with yolk mixture. Refrigerate. In the meantime, crisp the procuitto in the oven (350 degrees for about 10 minutes) on parchment paper and drain off any grease. Before serving, place a flake of procuitto and a small chip into each egg.

HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE

2 eggs
1/3 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt (coarse)
2 T lemon juice
1 c light olive oil
1 c vegetable oil

Blend well in food processor the eggs, mustard, salt, and lemon juice. Combine the oils and drop by drop add the oil to the blending mixture. As the mixture thickens allow the oil to flow in a steady slow stream. This is called emulsifying. Mixture should be thick and not oily. Store up to 7 days.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hoedown Throwdown


Well, here is the hoedown (50th Wedding Anniversary bash). I served homemade rolls with honey butter, watermelon and cantaloupe fresh from the farm, pickled cucumbers, and roasted corn wit lemon butter. But the real stars were:

I served Slaw and Barbecue Country Pork Ribs, with Black cherry BBQ Sauce...oooh my!

Stewed Zucchini and Garlic, Thyme, and Buttered New Potatoes.

Barbecued Chicken and Carrot Cakes.


Even Legs the horse wanted in on the action. Really she was trying to eat the ice out of the soda trough! Wish you could have been there!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hoe-downs and Honeymoons

I've been slow posting this last week...I have been just a little bit busy. I catered two big events. One was a good old fashioned country hoe-down and the other a wedding supper. I'll post the hoe-down pictures tomorrow.
The wedding supper (light buffet consisting of a similar menu to the shower menu #3 that is posted below) was at a beautiful venue. It was a greenhouse at a nursery and the lush environment complimented the Tuscan inspired menu. I thought you might want to see what I've been up to.

Chocolate dipped strawberry topiary and baby cakes. Spinach salad tossed with Basalmic onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Topped with feta and bacon.
Pesto tortellini salad and Poached shrimp with coctail sauce.
Assorted cheese and crackers.
Closer look at that topiary.

Cucumber lime spritzer.



Chocolate decadence and Coconut lime baby cakes.
the venue
Assorted fruits and breads.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vuole qualcosa da mangiare?

translation...Would you like something to eat?
If you are anything like myself, you have tomatoes, and plenty of them. I love this time of year, when I have a produce market right in my back yard. Well, besides all the bottling i do with all of my tomatoes, I love to savor the fresh taste that only lasts for a month or two. We all know that you can't beat a tomato off the vine. Here is a quick recipe for Bruchetta. It is a fantastic snack. You can eat it with chips if you'd like, but it is best on warm crusty bread.

BRUCHETTA
8 roma tomatoes hulled and diced very small
1 small red onion diced
1 small can chopped black olives
1 bottle roasted bell peppers/ 2 roasted bell peppers
2 tsp. chopped garlic, roasted
1/4 cup basil
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp. Basalmic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
baguette sliced thin
parmesan
garlic oil (mix 3 Tablespoons chopped garlic with 1/4 cup olive oil.)

Brush slices of baguette with garlic oil and sprinkle with parmesan. Toast in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.
Mix remaining ingredients together and let chill for at least ½ an hour. Top toasts with tomato mixture.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

See Even Dooce Likes Brown Bananas!

Why are there 200 black bananas in my freezer from as far back as, like, 1992? Because ONE DAY I am totally going to make banana bread.
from Tweetie dooce

I am totally there with her...my husband has asked why I keep rotten bananas in the freezer. High hopes for my baking future! So make those cupcakes below Ms. Dooce and you'll only have 196 bananas left. If you need a great irreverant laugh check out Dooce, but not before you check me out!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Banana mana fo fana



I have never much loved bananas. I have kind of always tolerated them. But when I get a killer leg cramp, I am more than grateful for them. Growing up, if I ever had an ache or pain, my mother would always say "eat a banana." Magically, they always work for me. There are times I crave them...my body does, not my mind I am sure. I love them only when they are perfectly yellow, no blemishes, not a speck of green or a tinge of brown. I have to peel the entire banana, and every little string must be off... and I pinch off the little nub on the end...can't eat it...not sure why...my mother says I'm nuts. And under no circumstances will I eat a banana that has been in the fridge....yuck!
But, then there is the subject of cooked bananas. That is an entirely different story...banana bread...banana cake...banana cookies...grilled bananas...banana ice cream...oh wait that's not cooked. Anyway, I can't wait until they start turning brown, because that means the ultimate comfort foods can be concocted.
So here is a great banana cupcake recipe. It is simple and the results are sooo gratifying.
P.S. I would love to know what your favorite banana dishes are and if I happen to be the only picky banana eater out there!


OOH BABY BANANA CUPCAKES!
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda (add to pureed bananas)
4 bananas-best if very brown
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 lbs powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
up to 1/4 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. prepare muffin cups. Mash the bananas and add the soda to them, set aside. Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Sift flour then add the salt and baking powder to the flour.To the butter mixture, alternately add the milk and flour Add vanilla and mashed bananas. Bake for 20-25 minutes

Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth, add sugar and vanilla and blend well adding milk a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.