Monday, June 20, 2011
This has definitely been a strawberry year. Sometimes, they seem so flavorless and the flesh is white, but this year, probably due to all of the moisture, the strawberries are so big and flavorful. I am not fond of cooked strawberries but i love to add fresh ones to recipes. This is a fun take on a strawberry shortcake, just more portable. Hope you enjoy it.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CUPCAKES
½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped
½ cup sour cream
1 cup milk
3 cups APF
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ cups pudding, strawberry or vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light. Add the vanilla and eggs one at a time and mix well. Beat in the sour cream. Sift the dry ingredients directly into the bowl and mix well on a low-medium speed slowly adding the milk. Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with paper. Bake for 18 minutes. Cool on a rack. When cupcakes are completely cooled, put the pudding into a pastry bag or zip lock bag with a round pastry tip and push gently into the center. Squeeze just enough pudding out to fill the cupcake until it plumps but not so much that it oozes out. Frost with Cream cheese Frosting and top off with a fresh strawberry.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
½ cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cream.
1 Tablespoon vanilla
With a mixer, combine 1 cup of sugar with the butter and cream cheese and beat until very smooth. Next add the rest of the sugar and beat until smooth. Finally, add the vanilla and cream and beat on medium speed for two minutes or so. *If you need to add more cream feel free to do so.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Gnocchi is a fun kitchen project, that yields pretty awesome results....if you take your time and focus on the task at hand. If not, they can be heavy and chewy, and a big waste of time. If you like to play with play dough, this is the project for you. I have paired the gnocchi with a fresh and springy sauce that doesn't weight the dish down. And topped it off with oven crisped prosciutto and parmesan cheese.
Potato Gnocchi with Asparagus and Peas
3 pounds russet potatoes
2 cups flour, all purpose
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Peel the potatoes and wash them. In a heavy pan, boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and pass through a food mill or a potato ricer directly onto a cutting board or on the counter top. Sift the flour over the top of the potatoes. Make a hole in the center of the potatoes and add the egg, nutmeg, and the salt. Beat the egg with a fork in the center and then begin to mix it all together with your hands. Create a ball and then knead the ball for a few minutes or until the ball is dry to the touch.
Take a fistful of dough and roll it in to a long rope. Cut the rope into inch long pieces. Run the pieces over the back of a fork. Bring a pot of salted water and drop the gnocchi in. When the gnocchi floats to the top, cook it for an additional minute. In all, it takes about three minutes. Drain, and toss in an ice bath to cool it down and toss with a bit of oil, if they are not used immediately.
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup asparagus, diced
½ cup shallot, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
5 slices prosciutto
Salt and pepper
1 lemon zested
¼ cup parsley
1 cup ricotta
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
On a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, bake the prosciutto at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. When cooked, set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together. Sauté the shallots until tender and translucent. Add the peas and the asparagus and toss with salt and pepper. Add the gnocchi to the pan as well as the parsley. Finally, toss with the ricotta and the lemon zest. Serve with a chip of prosciutto and parmesan.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I have taught cooking classes for ten years. My specialty is cooking fresh, from scratch, easy meals...I try to make gourmet look cool and attainable. My classes are attended by busy men and women alike, just trying to put a good meal on the table. Many are just lacking in time and are looking for a more efficient way to get it done. With that said, Tyson has introduced a new product, that just might give those of you who are hoping for the same, a little break. TYSON GRILLED AND READY, is a line of fully cooked chicken and beef products, that are ready to be inserted in just about any recipe. Ranging from a fully cooked chicken breast, to seasoned steak and chicken strips, to fajita style chicken and beef, each package found in the freezer, will serve six people.
Last month, I was excited to receive a coupon in the mail courtesy of Tyson and FoodBuzz, to try this product out for free. Click on the FOODBUZZ window to the right--}} and join...if you do, you can hang out with me and tons of other talented foodies virtually! And when you join, be sure to go to the TYSON page and become a fan. I had my mind set on trying the Tyson Steak Strips, but alas, they must be so popular that both stores I checked were out of them. So I purchased the TYSON FULLY COOKED CHICKEN BREASTS. The instructions indicate that they can be brought to temperature in the microwave or convection oven. I chose to try the microwave, since I feel that is the least desirable way to prepare chicken, and I wanted to see if it stayed juicy. Prepared according to Tyson's Instructions, it in fact was still juicy and ready to slip into my recipe. In hindsight, I would have preferred to use the Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast for this recipe, but wasn't able to get it either. But by using the whole breast, was able to get nice shreds of chicken to add to my dish.
So, what did I whip up? BUFFALO CHICKEN NACHOS, a totally fun and versatile mash up of a two classics....Nachos and Buffalo Wings. Give it a try for an interesting dinner or serve it as a fun summer appetizer...either way, you are sure to be the MVP of the night.
8 tablespoons Hot sauce,like Franks Red Hot
8 Tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, mashed and minced
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Dash of Worcestershire
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
4 Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Breast Fillets
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
Prepare the chicken, according to instruction indicated on package and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing or tearing into strips. 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.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
So here is my offer: If you donate (any amount over $5.00, by midnight April 30th, come back here and leave me a comment that you did......I will enter you in a drawing for none other than a handcrafted tasty treat made by myself. I will draw the winner the morning of May 1st. The winner will get his/her choice of:
2 dozen custom chocolate chip cookies (custom meaning that I will add your favorite treats to the mix)
Sent directly to your home!
Now, if you want an extra chance to win:
Finally, I know times are tough for everyone, but any size donation means something to the future of Simon and everyone with Cystic Fibrosis that is praying for a cure. It took me just minutes to donate, it was that easy. So please read the information below, and then click HERE to make a change!
My dear friend has a son who has Cystic Fibrosis. When Simon was diagnosed, the median age of survival was 31.5 years. Today, because of money and research, the median age is 37 years. Can you imagine being told that your child would not likely live out a full and healthy life? Although this is a huge improvement, we can’t stop raising money until there is a cure for Simon. Currently, research is moving faster than it can be funded; the only factor standing in our way is a dollar sign.
Cystic Fibrosis is the most prevalent genetic disease in the United States. Advances continue to be made in finding a cure, but your help is needed now - more than ever - to help keep up the momentum of this life-saving research. Too many young lives depend on this vital research to let it go unfunded!
GREAT STRIDES is the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation's largest and most successful national fundraising event. This year, Brooke will be walking in the GREAT STRIDES event at the Southern Utah-Coral Canyon site on April 30th, 2011. Please help Brook meet her fundraising goal of $3000.00 by sponsoring her. You'll feel confident in knowing that your generous gift is used efficiently and effectively: nearly 90 cents out of every dollar you contribute goes directly toward supporting research and specialized care that improves the quality of life for those with CF. And, it's tax-deductible.
Making a donation is easy and secure! Just click HERE to make a donation to her fundraising page. Any amount you can donate is greatly appreciated!
Donating to GREAT STRIDES is such a simple and effective way for you to show your support for this important cause. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those with CF! Once again, thank you for supporting the mission of the CF Foundation!
Monday, March 28, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I love this caramel corn. It is so easy and is totally decadent. My neighbor, Christine Lewis, many years back, made this for a candle party. She was forever my favorite neighbor after that. I am not positive that this is exactly her recipe...but I think it is close. I rarely use pre-packaged products, but the popcorn that is pre-popped works best. The reason is, that it doesn't have all of the stray kernels and smaller kernels and it makes it extra buttery and salty...but twice as bad for you. In the picture above you can see that I didn't use the pre-popped stuff, but rather I popped my own white corn. It is a bit healthier that way...but the kernels were definitely smaller and you get some harder kernels inside the puffed corn. Either way...it's yummy and the bowl will be gone quickly!
STICKY SWEET CARAMEL CORN - graciously shared by Christine Lewis
¾ pound butter (yes really)
1 bag mini marshmallows
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 bag of pre-prepared popcorn (2 lb.)
2 grocery paper bags
In a saucepan melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved and bubbling. Remove from heat and add the marshmallows and stir until melted. Next add the vanilla and mix well. Now split the popcorn into the two grocery bags and then pour half the marshmallow mixture in each of the bags. Shake and manipulate the bags until well mixed. Form into ball or serve in a bowl.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together the garlic, onion, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. I usually just
follow these same instructions, but in the blender instead.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
You know what I like about this recipe? I always have the ingredients for it. It's kind of my "old stand by". It takes literally twelve minutes to prepare this awesome dish. It's hearty and pleasing. With a chunk of crusty bread it is pretty much flawless. I have also made this dish with clams and it was pretty awesome as well. Check it out- I used awesome twice in the same paragraph..so it must be pretty darn good.
1 pound cooked spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon cut into small strips
1 cup red onion,minced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup petite frozen peas
1 cup bay shrimp
1 pound large shrimp
It is easiest to prepare the pasta while preparing the sauce. Cook pasta to al dente-according to packaged instructions, be sure to salt the water. When you drain the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the water.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I was working as pastry chef at Tuscany when I took my first cake decorating class. I didn't excel but got the general idea. Techniques like the basket weave and rope were lost on me. And I did successfully learn how to make roses and other flowers. But something clicked, and eventually, after lots and lots of practice, I actually got pretty decent. Pretty soon I could turn cupcakes and cookies into just about anything. Usually I just use frosting, but occasionally I will use fondant or gum paste. Although fondant is pretty, I have found that most people just don't like to eat it...I think I might be one of those people.
cracks me up, because when I give people decorated desserts, often times they wont eat them. To me that's like not hanging a picture on the wall. You can't fully appreciate it unless its in your belly. So in the end, I kind of feel like I might be a little artistic....
These cuties were for a Toy Story Birthday Party. I stayed up late one night frosting them...talking to myself in the characters voices....I like to fully immerse myself in my projects. :)
if you thought these were cute, check out these and these
Monday, January 10, 2011
So, the few adjustments that I made are as follows:
1. Gingersnap crust- kindof cliche though, I think I would have preferred a a maccaroon cookie instead.
2. 3 tablespoons cornstarch instead of flour, just a personal prefference
3. added a teaspoon of salt to the batter, once again, just a personal prefference.
4. Blood oranges instead of Valencia, the store had beautiful blood oranges so we opted to use them instead. I personally felt the orange caramel sauce was very bitter. I am not sure if this was the result of using blood oranges. I ended up scrapping the sauce and starting over, not using the orange syrup.
5. as you can see, we decorated the cake just a bit different, adding some beautiful raspberries we had.
Overall, this was a pretty good recipe. It didn't steal my heart or anything, but everyone else raved about it. I really didn't like the caramel very much, it was bitter and pithy tasting to me, but I don't absolutely love candied citrus anyway...so maybe don't take me too seriously when it comes to the sauce. It definitaly yeilded a dramatic looking cheesecake, very elegant. It cut pretty good. I cut it when it was very cold with a warm wet knife and had to wipe the blade with every slice. It of course tasted better room temperature as most cheesecakes do, because it makes them more creamy. And finally, I thought it was much better the second day.
Orange Ribbon Cheesecake
Sunset magazine November 2007
Yield: Makes 12 servings
1 large thin-skinned orange, such as Valencia
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, or 2 tsp. vanilla
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1. For topping: Rinse and dry orange. With a sharp knife, slice into thin rounds (between 1/8 and 1/16 in. thick; see Notes), discarding ends and seeds. In a deep 10-in. frying pan or pot over medium-high heat, stir sugar, 3/4 cup water, and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Add orange slices and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, until they're slightly candied and translucent and liquid has the consistency of a thin syrup, about 20 minutes (there should be about 1/2 cup liquid in pan; if less, add enough hot water to make that amount and shake pan to mix water into syrup). Let cool in pan. Cover and chill at least 15 minutes and up to 2 days.
2. For cheesecake: Preheat oven to 300°. Pour graham cracker crumbs into a 9-in. cheesecake pan with removable rim; add butter and mix. Press mixture evenly over bottom and 1/2 in. up sides of pan.
3. In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in flour, sour cream, and liqueur just until incorporated. Pour into crust-lined pan.
4. Bake until center barely jiggles when cake is gently shaken, 60 to 70 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife between cake and pan rim. Cool completely at room temperature, then cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
5. Remove pan rim. If any moisture collects on top of cake, gently blot dry. Gently lift candied orange slices from syrup, reserving syrup, and blot dry with a paper towel. Arrange slices, slightly overlapping, over top of cheesecake.
6. Measure orange juice. Bring reserved syrup to a boil over high heat. Stir occasionally until syrup is deep golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in orange juice (mixture will bubble up). Let cool to room temperature and generously brush over orange slices (you may have extra syrup).
7. Serve cheesecake, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Use a serrated knife to cut cake, wiping blade clean after each slice.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Almost three years ago, I received a phone call from Aging Services in California, informing me that my husbands grandmother had been reported as neglected. A couple that was interested in purchasing her home had reported her in hopes to push us to sell her home. I can assure you that she hadn't been neglected, but maybe not cared for in the way that she needed. We had found that Grandma had kept it a secret from us that she was a victim of mortgage fraud...just one of the many victims of the Indy Mac Bank debacle. My husband's father died when he was a young boy and so grandma raised him. We knew it was our responsibility to care for grandma as her own daughter was not interested in helping with the care of her mother. So I found myself a week later driving to California to pack her house up and moving her east to Salt Lake City to live with our family.
No one could have ever prepared me for what this new adventure in my life would be like or become. If anyone would have ever told me I would be a caregiver I might have believed them....if they would have told me that I would have to balance care giving, a marriage and four children...and living next door to my own parents...I would have laughed. That is the funny thing about life, we are extremely adaptable creatures...if we allow ourselves to be. The care giving experience is a roller coaster..that most of the time you would rather watch others ride....it is scary, it is bumpy, it makes you sick, sometimes it thrills you, makes you laugh, often makes you want to scream....but the way I see it, when you are finished you probably will want to ride it again....but won't be able to so you had better enjoy it for what it is worth.
In the years that grandma has been with us, we have survived a short sale (I do not recommend a short sale if you can avoid one), health problems, unhelpful family, dementia, and tax issues caused by the whole mortgage debacle. But we have also enjoyed having grandma, knowing she is well cared for, happy, and content...especially because to her, the joy of waking up to her great grandchildren means everything to her. Unlike raising children, there is a flip side to care giving. You raise your child, celebrating each milestone they reach...when they learn to talk, walk, read, and so on. But with an aging member of the family, you mourn the losses...as their mobility dwindles, they cannot hear you, their vision erodes, and so on. Although, I have tried to anticipate upcoming changes for grandma, they still take me by surprise, and are often time consuming and exhausting. I am constantly amazed at the things that I have said I would never do that I do now. All of this and I am still trying to raise four kids-two of which are teenagers (need I say more?). I have always been a writer, and was shocked to see how completely void of inspiration I became. Even my cooking was suffering...grandma is a bit picky. She would prefer Stouffers Mac and Cheese over the majority of the things I prepare. I was getting a bit plain there for a while. I just couldn't see my blog becoming: Sugar...No Spice..and Everything Typically Bland. Grandma does like a few things I prepare, but for the most part, she is facinated by the fact that people pay me to teach them to cook or spend time reading my blog....lol. What's a girl to do?
The last few months have been extremely difficult for grandma health wise, so I had to re prioritize...and unfortunately left my blogging out in the cold. I will tell you however, that I have been busy cooking and stockpiling great recipes to share with you all. I still intend to continue on with my blog....I love to cook...I love to share...and I refuse to be lost in the title of care giver. So I hope that you can be patient with me as I get the ball rolling again. I love your friendships and comments, it keeps me connected.
So, as I type, I am downloading recipes and pictures to share wth you. Don't be suprised if you find this blog peppered with strange stories about my life now....I need some sort of an outlet.
So please check in Monday for a new volume in this little blog...