Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Almost Famous

So....last week I taught a cupcake class, hosted by Thanksgiving Point and Today's Mama/Utah Mama( a go to site for moms whether you live in Utah or not). The class attendees were all local Bloggers. So lucky me, they are blogging about it! I have been busy visiting all my new friends blogs and have been thoroughly impressed at the sheer talent of these gals.
Now here is the kicker....a couple of these gals are having giveaways this week....giving away a free cooking class.....at Thanksgiving Point. ...to any class you want to go to....but of course you would choose to come to one of mine....right?
First up is Marcel Walker, photographer. Her site is beautiful. her pictures are deep and inventive. And she made my cupcakes look dreamy! If you are wondering what I am holding in the picture of myself, it's a vial of vanilla beans (not a skinny microphone). Check her out!

Next up are the Crafting Chicks, six friends who share a wide array of crafting projects. If you visit this site, make sure you have some time. I was in awe of the cute stuff they had been up to- everything from jewelry, mod podge, easy recipes, hair clips...and so much more. Look at what they had to say about me


The Crafting Chicks

And Finally, Make it Work Mom, a site dedicated to moms "who want to maximize their limited time with their greatest assets." Her site is full of great stories and helpful ideas for any mom whether she is a working mom, stay at home mom, single mom, or whatever. Visit her right away.


So, thanks to Today's Mama, who sent all these cool gals my way.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

During the cold months of winter, I spend my cooking time on warm, rich, and comforting recipes. I am drawn to creams, deep and smokey spices, and cheeses. I love to be in the kitchen creating, baking, and eating. The kitchen is the warmest place to be and I spend a lot of time there.
So...you can imagine that when the temperatures rise to a sizzling 95 + degrees, and my kitchen is still the warmest place in the house......I just might not want to spend quite as much time in it. My taste buds gear a bit more to cold, fruity, crisp, and fresh flavors. I crave garden fresh flavors and herbs. I love to cook, I love to create....but I like to do it in half the time and prefer to grill as much as possible. One of my favorite ways to feed the masses during the summer months is with salads.
This particular salad is full of sweet and spicy, crunch, salty, fresh, and creamy flavors. The recipe below for Jerk Chicken can definitely stand alone, but combined with the sweet fruits, creamy cheese, and crispy lettuces, it is off the charts. I hope that this recipe will keep you out of the kitchen for a bit.
SWEET ONION DRESSING
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard (dry)
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 vidalia onion, grated
½ cup rice wine vinegar
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar and onion together and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour hot liquid into blender with spices and blend, slowly adding the oil in a steady stream. Cool and serve.
JAMAICAN JERK SALAD
1 cup pineapple, chunked
1 cup mango, chunked
1 cup red peppers, diced
1 cup green onion, chopped
1 cup corn, cold
1 cup orange segments
1 recipe jerk chicken, chunked
1 cup almonds, slivered
1 cup mild feta cheese
12 cups variety lettuces, chopped and combined
1 recipe Sweet onion dressing

Combine all ingredients together with dressing.

JERK CHICKEN

3 scallions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 fresh habenero chili stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons black pepper
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 chicken breasts

Blend all marinade ingredients in a blender until smooth. Place marinade and chicken in seal-able plastic bags- pressing out excess air, then turn bags over several times to distribute marinade. Put bags of chicken in a shallow pan and marinate, chilled, turning once or twice, for a few hours or up to 24 hours. Remove chicken from marinade. If cooking in the oven, cook at 350 degrees until chicken is tender and juices run clear, about 25 minutes. If grilling, heat barbecue to high but then reduce to low heat and grill for 8 minutes a side.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Going....Going....Gone! (wordless Wednesday)


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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chippers
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, mix butter, peanut butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips and coconut.

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.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me

It was a special weekend around here. Not only was it my son's birthday, but my own. We were blessed with beautiful weather and special time with family. I'm not usually one to gush, but it was a fabulous couple of days. For breakfast we went to a lovely breakfast spot in the canyons where I met my little friend here- We became good friends quickly.
Later, the family came over for a super yummy dinner and festivities. There is nothing I would rather do, than spend time with my family.
we are small in number, but big on heart.
But wait....I'm getting ahead of myself...these are pictures of everyone eating dessert....

guess what we had for dinner?.....
we had this....
and this.....

Yea...the boy and I have a thing for seafood. So we threw together these individual packets stuffed with shrimp, clams, crab, sausage, potatoes, corn, onions, peppers, white wine, and Cajun spices. They only took a few minutes to cook on the grill and oooooh baby were they tasty!
Oh, and we had crusty bread and this de-lish salad with pepperoncinis, hearts of palm, olives and such.....And then we opened presents..... But the best part of the night was this-
My cute daughter, whipped up the most decedent chocolate raspberry cake....I'm not kidding, this thing was untouchable.

And to top it off...she made home made raspberry ice cream...it was so rich and creamy.
Need proof? Check this out....

It was so fabulous, that I might retire my apron (well not really), but I am pretty darn proud of her. If you are interested....the recipe is posted below.
So needless to say, I had a pretty great weekend! How was yours?

CHOCOLATE CAKE

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Beat in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Stir in chocolate chips.
Divide batter among prepared pans (about 2 1/3 cups for each). Smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks. Invert cakes onto 9-inch-diameter cardboard rounds or tart pan bottoms.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

3 ½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cocoa
½ cup butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
3 Tbs. Milk

Mix powdered sugar and cocoa together. Add softened butter, vanilla, and milk. Beat until smooth.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nacho Same Old Buffalo Wings

in·de·ci·sive (nd-ssv)
adj.
1. Prone to or characterized by indecision; irresolute: an indecisive manager.
2. Inconclusive: an indecisive contest; an indecisive battle.
3. Not clearly defined; indefinite: indecisive boundaries running through mountainous terrain.
4. Sara

It is kind of my flaw. I really don't know how people put up with me. Not sure what my favorite color is...or book...candybar...place...you know what I mean? Ordering dinner is a task for me..sometimes I have to check out the restaurants menu before I go out (I know...seriously weird hugh) to figure out what I am having ahead of time (pondering all day) so the other guests don't have to wait for me. Heaven forbid that once I make up my mind, that the waiter announces a special that sounds like it might be better or indicates that my decision isn't his favorite...uuuugh!
There is one bright side to this rediculous malady...Fusion cooking...because, necessity is the mother of invention! I love Buffalo wings sooo very much. I also think nachos rock. So what if they were brought together on one dish? I don't mean a sampler platter...I mean Buffalo Nachos. Now I have your attention don't I? This combination of flavors is guaranteed to change your life (if even for a minute). Do not underestimate this dish.
This recipe requires you whip up a couple of quick sauces before you get started, but after that, it is simple. Nachos, because it has a crispy tostada, beans, cheese and cilantro. Wings, because besides the chicken, you get a fabulous blue cheese dressing and the crunch of celery. I love this recipe so much that if you were coming over...I'd make it for you.


WING SAUCE
8 tablespoons Hot sauce
8 Tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, mashed and minced
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Dash of Worcestershire
Salt, pepper
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on medium for five minutes.

BLUE CHEESE DRESSING
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup good blue cheese
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended. Refrigerate and serve.

BUFFALO CHICKEN NACHOS
6 boneless chicken wings
1 recipe wing sauce (above)
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup green onion, chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans, mashed
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bag multi colored tortilla chips or tostada tortillas
2 cups jack cheese, shredded

Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper and grill or 8 minutes each side. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Toss chicken strips in wing sauce. Spread mashed garbanzo beans on tortillas and top with the chicken. Sprinkle with celery , onion, and cilantro. Drizzle with blue cheese dressing and top with shredded jack cheese. Place in oven under the broiler for 8-10 minutes until bubbly.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fusion Desu ka?

I have never been one who was content to be confined to rules....but I am a self described "rule follower". Maybe I should have completed that sentence with a question mark since it didn't make sense. The fact is, that I feel there is a gray area between most rules, an area that fuses the "right" and "wrong" together. This gray rule often applies to my cooking. There is nothing I love more than mixing culinary tradition, techniques, and ethnic tastes. I get bored with the usual and so, I am always trying to mix it up a bit. Now, I know that I am not responsible for this idea...but I am a big fan of it, and some of my favorite recipes are a result of it. Fusion cooking can be found everywhere including here.
It's hot here now, summer is in full swing, and I like most, don't want to spend too much time in the hot kitchen...that's why this little dish is perfect. This has all of the comfort of a BLT but with the flare of a spring roll with a kicky little sauce. It is hearty enough to make a meal, but light enough that you won't feel weighed down.
The wrap pictured here has a one difference from the recipe listed below. For some reason, locally, I haven't been able to purchase rice paper at the grocery store. It has always been easy to find them, but not a single store in the valley. But what I have found are soy paper wraps. they are a bit pricey, but a great substitute. Each package comes with five different colored soy papers. The color comes from natural spices, but like rice paper they all lack in flavor. The nice thing, is these do not have to be soaked. They are very easy to work with.
SESAME GINGER SAUCE
3 Tablespoons Ginger
3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
½ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
In a blender, combine vinegar, ginger, and sugar and blend. Slowly add the oil in a slow and steady stream until emulsified. Add the salt, pepper, and seeds and pulse.



BLT SPRING ROLLS
1 package of rice paper
1 lb bacon, cooked and drained on paper towels
2 tomatoes, seeded, and sliced
1 avocado
1 lime
Salt and pepper
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded

In a bowl, mash the avocado with a dash of pepper and salt and the juice of the lime. Fill a large bowl with luke warm water. Place a rice wrapper in the water for a few seconds to soften. Spread a tablespoon of avocado on the center of the rice paper. Place ½ a slice of bacon, a few slices of tomato, and a small handful of lettuce on the rice paper and wrap. Refrigerate rolls with a piece of parchment paper between layers. Serve cold with ginger sesame sauce.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who's Cuisine Reigns Supreme?

Today, in kitchen stadium, reigning Iron Chef Sara battled Iron Chef Ruby and Iron Chef Bridget. The secret ingredient was play dough (or in my case cupcakes). Chefs Ruby and Bridget came in strong with an array of appetizers like Pink Hippopotamus Pizza and Rainbow eggs. But the clincher that stole the show was Chef Bridget's Birdie Cake.
The iron Chefs display their interesting dishes.
Here Iron Chef Bridget laugh manically to find she beat her fierce competitors.
It was a close competition, as Iron Chef Sara brought a decadent Coconut cupcake with Marshmallow whipped frosting to the table. But alas, the mastery of play dough wins out every time.

COCONUT CUPCAKES

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup coconut flakes
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cup sugar
3 eggs
¾ cups coconut milk
1 vanilla bean

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and coconut milk and mix on low speed. Finally, sift the dry ingredients directly into the bowl and mix well on a low-medium speed. Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with paper. Bake for 18 minutes. Cool on a rack. Frost with Marshmallow Frosting and dust with coconut.

MARSHMALLOW FROSTING
1 ½ cups sugar
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a double broiler, combine the sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, salt, water, and eggs and beat over simmering water for three minutes or until the mixture is hot. Remove from heat- add vanilla, and immediately begin whipping for three minutes or so, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Whiskers on Kittens

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite CAKE
And then I don't feel so bad!

Someone forgot to inform me that children do not necessarily get easier as they get older. Yea Yea, I heard that you are supposed to threaten their dates with shotguns and stay up until they return home so that you can flip the porch lights on, but other than that....I was ill informed. Now, I am not complaining that I no longer have to change diapers....or clean stinky milk bottles that were found in the deep dark crevices of the couch, but these big kids I have got are slightly exhausting. They have many needs, wear a completely unreasonable amount of clothing (thus the wash is always overflowing), and eat tons.....Tons! I tell ya! I always wondered why the checkers at the grocery store always knew my mother's name and were so familiar with her. I now know...since I am on a first name basis with Amy at the market...she sees me more than my spouse I think. And I always wondered why people let their teenagers drive....because, they get worn out being the chauffeur for so many years I think. I think next week I will get a little deeper into the details of my new fascination with my older children....they are strange creatures.
But, the reason I have made comment of this phenomenon that is occurring in my household, is that I have been a bit short on blog time so far this summer. Life has been a bit crazy and I have been a bit ragged...know the feeling? Please say yes...I can't possibly be alone in this. And then of course, I did tell you that the universe has had it out for me lately as well....please add the air conditioner to it's latest attacks. I have been hiding from the universe for a few days now...flying under the radar. But good news, I have stolen my children's pc and will be back to myself right away now.
So, to get back on the wagon, I was craving a bit the other night. I was in desperate need of a chocolate and glass of milk fix...get my drift? I also needed to wish a couple of dear friends a happy birthday, but wasn't quite in the mood for a huge amount of time in my ghastly hot kitchen (air conditioner broken and all). And then I remembered this sweetie: Mr. Chocolate Fluff Cake- the equivalent to whiskers on kittens. He's kindof my version of a Devil Dog (to you east coasters) or a Suzy Q (to you west coasters). Really, it is this totally dense and overly chocolaty cake topped off with a dreamy fluffy cloud of bliss. The deal is though, that if you make it, you must eat it right away...especially if your air is broken. The frosting is meringue based so it will deflate in 24 hours or so.
Now finally, one warning with this cake.....do not even attempt to eat this without a glass of milk! I mean it, you will be sad if you do...
Seriously though, this cake can be whipped up in minutes and eaten within an hour. It brings joy to your soul.

CHOCOLATE FLUFF CAKE

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)**
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups water
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour an 8-inch square cake pan (2 inches deep). Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well, then beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and water alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.
Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top, then bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.
Combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Mound frosting on top of cake. Dust with additional cocoa powder.


He's so dreamy isn't he? Enjoy!!