Monday, February 28, 2011

A New Day

The important things in life
cannot be gotten in advance.
They must be gathered fresh every day.
George Regas

What could be better than starting the day with a picture of a sunrise over the ocean! A calming moment before the day begins.
The following are some ideas to expand your cooking options and add some zest your meals.

Recently I came across BHG magazine 2011 special interest issue Mexican. I was able to find it at a local grocery store. The issue advertises 106 all new authentic recipes. It has a lot of very interesting recipes and great ideas to host a Mexican fiesta/meal. I found the sections helpful that explained terms and use of Mexican ingredients and where they might be found at you local store.
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This recipe is easy and requires minimal preparation.
Caribbean Broccoli Chicken Salad
Serves 4
Ingredients:
  • 2-3 chicken beasts grilled or baked, cooled and cut in chunks or strips
  • 1 mango cut and cubed
  • 2 peaches cubed and patted dry on paper towel
  • 4 fresh pineapple slices, cubed and patted dry on paper towel
  • 6 TB mango chutney
  • 4 TB. peach preserves
  • 6 T. plain low-fat yogurt
  • 4 TB. light mayonnaise
  • 1 (120z) bag broccoli slaw
  • 2 cups of fresh broccoli chunks
  • 1 cup raisins
  • sunflower seeds
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce
Directions:Prepare dressing
  • Whisk chutney, preserves and lime juice,
  • Stir in yogurt and mayonnaise till well blended
  • Add slaw, broccoli, cut up fruit,chicken and raisins
  • Chill for 30 minutes
  • Arrange piece of Bibb lettuce leaf on individual plates
  • Add chilled salad mixture
  • Sprinkle with sunflower seeds





Friday, February 25, 2011

Snack Attack

Chapter Five:
According to my owners... I have been bad, very, very bad. Today I was left behind while they went on a beach walk. I even ran to the patio window, pawing at the glass barking ..."take me, take me!" But the loud roar of the surf drowned out my barks. I couldn't stand watching them crossing the dunes out to the beach without me.
Perhaps you are wondering how a sweet tempered dog like me could be in "the dog house". Seems like my voracious appetite got the best of me. I was having the best time running free, exploring and investigating all the mysterious objects along the sand when I came across what I thought was a tasty morsel. When my owners yelled "Drop it! Drop it!", I thought it was a game and went flying around with it in my mouth while my owners chased after me. When they caught up I refused to let go of it and clenched it even tighter in my jaws. Before I knew it I surprised myself-swallowed whole a broken bird's wing and then licked my chops. Needless to say my owners were not amused. They put me back on the leash and led me down the beach trying to keep me in check. As we were returning back to the boardwalk I spied yet another tasty morsel. Even though I knew I shouldn't I just had to have it! So right before their eyes I plucked it up, clenched my jaws so they could not wrench it from my mouth and I swallowed it whole. My owners gasped to see a small star fish disappear. For the time being on I am temporarily banned from the beach till my owners recuperate from all my antics.

End of Bella's guest blogging for today.
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Do you enjoy historical fiction? If so I have just the book for you The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It is a debut novel written by Jamie Ford. The story is set in the area in and around Seattle in the 1940's and the 1980's. The two eras are linked through the memories of the protagonist Henry, a Chinese American. In the beginning of the story we meet Henry who is 12 and his school friend, Keiko, a Japanese American girl. Both children attend a white school with the hopes to get a good American education. Their friendship meets with sadness when Keiko's family is forced to evacuate and go to an interment camp.
This novel explores an age old conflict of traditions between father and son and the turmoil that occurs when the Japanese families were ordered to internment camps. Four decades later Henry finds himself on a mission to find something in the basement of Hotel Panama which has been closed and now facing renovations. It is here secrets are uncovered and memories stirred as Henry uncovers abandoned Japanese families' belongings.
The book has hope and commitment at its center. I think it would be a great read for book clubs and there are even discussion questions to be found online.
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Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie first made its debut in the Florida Keys where key limes are grown. Key limes are more yellow in color when ripe than green. Every recipe I looked at highly encouraged using REAL key limes since bottled lime juice has a more acidity taste. So I suggest go for the real deal. I was searching for a recipe that had a lighter filling than the traditional one that seems heavy to me. It seems to be personal preference for topping making a meringue one or use whip cream. The following recipe worked well for me.
Crust:
In a blender or food processor: mix 2 cups crushed graham crackers, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 2 TB. sugar, 1/2 cup pecan or slivered almonds, 5 TB. melted butter
Pat into a pie pan and bake @ 325 for 10 minutes-cool some before adding filling
Filling:
1- 140z. can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Key Limes (3-4 depending on size)
3 large yolks (save whites)
2 tsp. grated lime zest
1/3 cup powdered sugar
In a separate bowl beat egg whites with 1/4 tsp. creme of tartar
Directions:
Whisk condensed milk with egg yolks and powdered sugar
Whisk in lime juice and zest
Fold in beaten egg whites
Pour into prepared baked graham cracker crust
Bake at 325 15-20 minutes-remove from oven and add meringue
Bake 12-15 minutes more but a word of caution watch so doesn't get too brown
Meringue
Beat 3 egg whites with 1/2 tsp. creme of tartar till foamy
Add 3 TB. sugar


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Lucky Breaks

Chapter Four according to Bella
While all my doggie friends and family are at home dealing with snow and more snow I am basking in what I still call doggie heaven. Unfortunately, my owners have been struggling keeping up with my renewed energy level. I actually give them a tow to the beach as they hold tight on to my leash while I bound down the boardwalk toward the sand. Did you know that it is some 1,475 steps (roundtrip) just to get to the beach? And that is taking the elevator down and running along a winding boardwalk over the dunes to the beach. But for early morning and late night runs for me just to do "my business" can be somewhat of an annoyance to my owners. If you are wondering how I can be so accurate- one of my owners decided to keep track on her pedometer one day just how many steps we all take. In one day with all our travels we went over 18,000 steps which equates to about 9 miles. (10,000 steps= 5 miles)
My favorite new activity is running along the water's edge to catch the birds. So far no luck, but being a very determined dog who doesn't give up easily I will keep trying.
Remember when I mentioned that every time I hear "Come Bella" I get a doggie treat well today I won't have to work so hard. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard my owner this morning telling me it is International Dog Biscuit Day? I am not making it up since my owners read it on the Internet. And isn't the Internet always right??? Just imagine a dog biscuit without having to do any tricks. And I can justify having extra treats because of all the added exercise I am getting.
Yesterday I went out to lunch. Yes, you read that correct. We found an outdoor restaurant that allows pets on the patio. I just couldn't believe when they even brought me out my own water dish. Now that is what I call service!
I have attached some photos of recent experiences.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Southern Way

Southern sayings are those wonderful similes, metaphors or other expressions used during conversations from different regions of the South. Some expressions may not be in use today but have been a part of another generation growing up. I picked out some of the colloquialisms I thought you might be interested in. If I could find the translation I added it it with a T, if not be imaginative:)
Well, butter my biscuit. T...Isn't that something
Two goats in a pepper patch. T..That's some hot stuff.
Short end of the stick. T...Treated in an ill manner.
Ruffled her feathers. T...Upsetting
Forty going north. T...to do something with great gusto and enthusiasm.
Good fences make good neighbors.
Well, that just dills my pickle!
That's about as useful as a trap door on a canoe.

Did you know that in the city of Atlanta which is composed mostly of one way streets, there are some 55 streets that have the word Peach Tree in their name? Peach Tree Rd. was the name of the original road linked to a Fort in Gwinnett City.

Recently I ordered a dessert called Mississippi Mud Cake. I have always wanted to make one and was quite surprised to find that there are over some 200 recipes on some 30 food websites. Wow..for just one cake!!!
It is thought the name of the recipe might have been inspired by the muddy waters of the Mississippi River. The dessert is usually associated with Southern cuisine and also goes by the name of Mississippi Mud Pie. In 1927 there was a popular song called Mississippi Mud. The earliest recipe for this cake to to be found came from Texas in 1967.
I had good results with this cake and the best part is came from Cooking Light Dec. 2006 magazine if you use their substitutes and skip coconut!
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Mrs. Sippy's Mud Cake
recipe adapted from myrecipes.com and the name is borrowed from another recipe. I thought it a rather clever name for Mississippi Mud Cake

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter or fat free substitute
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 4 large eggs or use 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup boiling coffee or water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows
Directions:
  • Grease well a 9 x13 pan
  • In bowl combine cocoa and boiling coffee-stir to blend
  • Beat sugar, butter and vanilla
  • Add cocoa mixture and eggs one at a time beating
  • Combine flour, soda,pecans, coconut and salt in another bowl
  • Blend ingredients alternating flour, buttermilk and sugar/butter/cocoa mixture
  • Stir till blended
  • Spread batter in pan Bake @ 350 20 minutes
  • Sprinkle marshmallows in an even layer return to oven till marshmallows puffed and then cooled
Ingredients: Chocolate frosting
  • 3 TB. butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup evaporated fat free milk or 2 % milk
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
Directions for frosting:
  • Combine all ingredients except powdered sugar and vanilla-whisk to blend
  • Remove from stove and beat in powdered sugar and vanilla (note-you may have to add a little more milk to get frosting correct consistency
  • Drizzle hot frosting topping over cooled cake
  • Save any extra frosting for another time



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wild on the Beach

Chapter Three
On day three the endless car ride came to a screeching halt and none to soon I might add for me.
I have really gotten tired of walks around gas stations and rest areas even though the litter of trash is quite appealing for sniffing. Really, these places are not my idea of where I want to exercise.
But this big sandy dog park my owners had been telling me about called the beach tuned out to be more than incredible. It is like what I imagined dog heaven to be. My owners were right this place is quite pet friendly pointing out the Fido boxes near the boardwalk with poop bags. My first run off leash down the beach was thrilling, exhilarating but quite heart-stopping for my owners. They gasped as I dove into the water getting caught in a wave. They watched me struggle from the grasp of the water as I dog-paddled back. Just as they sighed with relief I took off again but toward the sand dunes-leaped high and headed toward a nearby putting green part of the golf course. Lucky some of the dog training I had been getting back at home paid off. I heard "Come Bella" and I am smart to know that means doggie treat so I showed up back on the beach. I loved every minute I was out there and until I can get back I sit on the balcony looking out at the big, blue sea and crashing waves.
Enjoy some of my action filled photos. FYI I may look like a really mellow dog but give me the open air and I can run just as fast as a greyhound!
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Recipe Ideas for Spring Brunch
Fruitini
I liked this simple recipe because it can be served in a martini glass, parfait or wine glass
Makes 6 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 bananas sliced
  • 1/2 cantaloupe sliced in cubes
  • red grapes
  • 1 container of strawberries
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 2 kiwi sliced
  • 1 pint blackberries
Directions:
  • Toss fruit with 2 TB. powdered sugar, 1 TB. lemon juice, 2-3 TB. Grand Marnier
  • Chill for a few hours
  • Take 6 serving glasses, dip rims in a bit of orange juice and then in powdered sugar
  • Place fruit in glasses to serve
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adapted from Coastal Living magazine 2003
Cornbread Eggs Benedict
Ingredients:
  • prepared box of cornbread mix
  • Canadian bacon
  • Eggs poached fried-1 per serving
  • Hollandaise sauce
Directions:
  • Follow directions for cornbread mix except add chopped green onion, 1 cup cheddar cheese, roasted red peppers drained from small jar-cut in small pieces
  • Cook cornbread, cool and cut into squares
  • Warm Canadian bacon in oven wrapped in foil-about 15 minutes at 375
  • Make Hollandaise sauce or buy prepared
Easy Hollandaise Sauce
In a blender
  • 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB. lemon juice
  • dash hot pepper sauce
  • 2 TB. crushed dried Rosemary
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Blend 5 seconds
  • Melt butter- 1 stick in microwave
  • Pour melted butter into egg mixture in blender in a slow stream
  • To keep sauce warm place blender in a pan of boiling hot water
To assemble
1 cornbread square, 1 poached or fried egg, Canadian bacon, and then top with 2 TB. sauce

Checkout this food website I came across: southernplate.com



Friday, February 18, 2011

On The Road

Blog posting by Bella
Chapter Two: Bella Heads South
As you can see from the photo posted I was quite unsure about this road trip South leaving behind my home which is nice and comfortable. My backseat traveling accommodations while cozy looking to most seem quite cramped. The first 4 hours I pressed my nose to the glass and saw nothing but dense fog. I felt like I was in a cloud and I would never get out. When the fog lifted I noticed finally we had left the snow behind. I will say it took some 9 hours of driving time for this miracle to happen. I perked up when I heard the driver announce it was 65 degrees outside. If only they would let me out of the car more than just a minutes to enjoy this weather change I thought to myself! No matter how many snacks they flung my way time being inside the car for so many hours was hard to endure. But I did my best and never once said "Are we there yet?"
When we finally got to the selected motel I freaked out. I felt trapped being in the room and paced back and forth multiple times and scratched at the door. I just had to get out. Oh, my I had forgotten to mention to my owners that I once had a bad motel experience with my previous owners.
Day 2 on the road went better. We had now driven through three states and arrived in Tennessee. I was finally able to get some fresh air when the driver rolled part of my window down so I could enjoy the sniffing the warm air. I guess he got the idea what I wanted when I steamed up the windows leaving lots of nose prints.
Our first stop was the Civil War Battlefields of Chattanooga and Chickamauga. It was quite a surprise that two battles could cover so much space. Like an area of 5 miles by 7 miles. While my owners spent a lot of time looking at many, many stone monuments I thought the ground sniffling was the best. And with all the wildlife I wanted to chase I could hardly be controlled. But I did manage to be on my best behavior and was rewarded with an early dinner.
I must be a traveling pro since I did much better at motel #2. I was calmer and more settled. Maybe it's because my owners said tomorrow we would arrive at our destination where they promised I could run free in the open air sandy dog park. I just hope it is as good as my owners promise it will be.
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check in Sunday for two great Southern style brunches I recently had while traveling

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bella's Roadside Adventures

Bella will be the guest blogger on this site over the next month and half. The adventure story: Bella Heads South will be told from her point of view. It will be posted in different installments with photos. As for me, while Bella pens her thoughts, I will be exploring Southern cuisine and sharing recipes.
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Chapter 1: One Lucky Dog
As I was resting in my usual napping place near the front window, I began to notice a lot of increased activity. My owners were scurrying around the house, packing bags and making many trips out to the car. I began to pace back and forth frantically. I was getting more worried by the moment. What was going on? Where are they going? Am I going to be left behind?
"Hey what about me" I wanted to shout! They must have sensed my anxiousness and sat on the floor to calm me down. They showed me a book about Florida with pictures of beaches with fine white sand. They assured me we were all going and they had picked one of the most dog friendly places in the South. They told me stories of how dogs can run free on the beach. I should think of it as a big sandy dog park near lots and lots of water. I was skeptical. Why was I just hearing about this trip? And how long do I have to car ride to get to the place called Florida? None of my other dog friends had told me about stories about taking car trips so far away from home.
It wasn't until my owners showed me my packed bag that I began to relax. My bed, favorite treats, toys, food and even my water dish were safely stowed in the bag. It was then that I realized I really was going on a this long- long-long car trip. The even packed the book The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. They wanted me to hear the adventure story of Enzo, a yellow lab just like me. Enzo tells this heart-tugging and up lifting story from his point of view. Enzo lives with Denny, an aspiring race car driver, his wife Eve and young daughter Zoe. But my owners did warn me that the book has some sad moments so be prepared. Check it out and see for yourself. I don't think you will be disappointed.
So looks like this trip is...the real deal. I just don't know what to expect but it does seem rather exciting to go somewhere new.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are You A Flexitarian?

How is that for a title to grab your attention! Had I not seen this article title in Bon Appetit February 2011 magazine I would have thought maybe it was a new yoga position!
Perhaps this is a new word for you. I learned from the article that a flexitarian diet focuses mostly on plant based foods, but includes meat and poultry and fish in small amounts. A flexitarian diet is the perfect one for all those people out there including me, who know they should eat more veggies but don't want to give up meat completely. I also learned from the article that hospitals have been quick to get into the act of backing meat-free Mondays movement. Meatless Mondays is a non-profit initiative in association with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It provides information and recipes you can use to start each week with healthy choices that are meat free. The goal of this initiative is to reduce each person's meat consumption by 15%. Check out
http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ for more information.
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Asparagus and Wild Rice Salad
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup raw wild rice
  • 1 cup mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup green onions
  • 1-1/2 cup vegetable broth (Swanson)
  • 1 LB. asparagus
  • 1- 1/2 TB Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1 small package of dried cranberries
Directions:
  • Cook rice in 3 cups of water covered about 40 minutes-drain
  • In skillet saute mushrooms, celery and onions- add 3/4 cup broth and cook several minutes more
  • Add asparagus pieces and rest of the broth and cook till al dente
  • Drain
  • Add rice, mushroom mixture and asparagus together
  • Add cranberries and toss with prepared vinaigrette dressing or a mixture of Balsamic vinegar,olive oil and lemon juice
  • Cover and refrigerate till chilled
  • Add cashews at end and serve on Bibb lettuce


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Tradition of Valentine's Cards

Flower

Over the centuries, the holiday evolved, and by the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts eventually spread to the American colonies. The tradition of Valentine's cards did not become widespread in the United States, however, until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing them. Today, of course, the holiday has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines.

Hope you have a great day! Splurge on a chocolate treat!



Friday, February 11, 2011

A Taste of Spring

Opportunity is missed by most people
because it comes dressed in overalls
and looks like work.
February 11
Birth date of Thomas Edison
He amassed 1,093 patents, the most patents ever issued to
single person in American history.

I went looking for spring and found it easily at a nearby conservatory. What a breath of fresh Spring air just to be inside with loads of greenery, eye-popping, vibrant colors to savor. The warm humid air was an added treat.
Lucky for my group we were able to see the last remnants of the Orchid show from the previous week. I posted some of the pictures for you to enjoy. One of the best parts of this outing was at the end we discovered a two toed sloth in the tropical section moving ever so slowing climbing up a tree. Looked just like a huge wig of hair moving!
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All you need is love.
But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
Charles Schultz
Peanuts cartoonist


Best Ever Chocolate Cake
Note: Over the years I have tried many, many chocolate cake recipes but I always come back to this one. It is a very moist cake and so easy to make. It has been posted before but worth a repeat just in time for Valentine's Day. If you have a heart shape cake mold be sure to grease well and lightly flour. It might need a little more baking time. A cream cheese, white buttercream or chocolate frosting pairs well with this cake.
Ingredients:
  • 2-1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup of strong coffee
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 TB. Kahlua
Directions:
  • Beat all ingredients 2-3 minutes
  • Grease and flour two cake pans
  • Bake @ 350 for 20-30 minutes but check at 20 do not over bake
  • Cool in pan a few minutes
  • Then invert to two plates lined with wax paper to cool
  • Place cooled layers on plate in freezer covered with wax paper for about 30 minutes
  • Remove and frost each layer-a chilled cake layer frosts better.
Ghirardelli Individual Lava Cakes
Ingredients:
Center:
  • 1/2 bar (2-0z.) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate baking bar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Cake:
  • 1 bar ( 4-0z) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate baking bar
  • 1 stick butter (8 TB.)
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cake flour
Directions for center
  • Melt chocolate and cream in double boiler
  • Whisk to blend
  • Refrigerate about 2 hours till firm
  • Form into 6 balls
Directions for cake
  • Preheat oven 400
  • Grease six -4 oz. ramekins well with PAM
  • Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler -whisk to blend
  • With mixer blend eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla on high speed till thick and light
  • Fold chocolate mixture and flour mixture into egg mixture just till combined
  • Spoon cake batter into ramekins
  • Place a chocolate ball in the middle of each ramekin
  • Bake 15 minutes or until cake firm to touch
  • Let sit about 5 minutes and then run a sharp knife around the inside of each ramekin
  • Place a plate on top, invert and remove ramekin
  • Garnish with raspberries and dollop pf whip cream
  • Serve warm
recipe taken from a magazine Ghirardelli ad

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Check these out...

The Star Tribune featured a story February 9th titled: Filmmakers find a sense of place by Bill Ward. It was noteworthy that two women Susan Bernstein and Mary McGreevy took to the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul to film a video Why We Are Here and within the first four days of it being posted online drew more that 30,000 viewers. Their concept for the 6 minute video was really quite simple: go to the streets of the cities and ask people the questions:Why do you live in the Twin Cities? What do you like about the city you live in?
The video was shot in the Twin Cities during Spring and Summer 2010. It includes snapshots of both cities with short interviews of residents of all ages.
Check out http://vimeo.com/19115634 the collective poem to the Twin cities produced by Seven and Sixty Production.
On a previous blog, I wrote about my experiences making a red velvet cake. Interesting that today the Yahoo page featured that very same subject in an article by The _Stir written Feb 8th titled:
8 essentials for authentic red velvet cake. I copied some of the text (see below) but encourage you to read the full article for yourself. It was a fun read.
1. The cake must have some cocoa, but not too much because it is not a chocolate cake.

2. The cake must have red food coloring; beet juice does not add the right kind of red.

3. The cake must have cream cheese frosting.

4. There should be pecans. (This was news to me.)

5. You must use high-quality ingredients, including White Lily flour, a Southern specialty flour.

6. Precise measurements and meticulous attention to detail are key for this cake; therefore, it must be made in small, easy-to handle, family-sized batches. (Mass-produced batter just doesn't cut it. Sorry, large-scale bakeries.)

7. You must use a hand-held electric mixer, not a stand mixer: Larger machines can over-mix the batter, which sometimes prevents the cake from rising properly.

8. Red velvet cake batter needs vegetable oil, not butter or shortening. Oil yields a very moist cake.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's Red...really really red

I can resist
anything except
temptation.
Oscar Wilde
With Valentine's Day just around the corner I have been wanting to try a Red Velvet Cake. Who would have ever guessed there could be so many variations for this cake! All the recipes had the same basic versions-buttermilk, vinegar,, baking soda, red food coloring, cocoa but differed in the choice of fat, amounts of food coloring, and cocoa. Some called for shortening, a few used butter and vegetable oil has become more common in some of the recent recipes. Also the amounts of food coloring ranged from 1 oz. to 3 oz. I finally settled on the recipe below but along the way learned some interesting things about this southern favorite.
The recipe for Red Velvet Cake appeared as early as 1896 in a Boston Cooking School publication. During World War II when foods were rationed bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of the cakes

The exact history of Red Velvet Cake is unknown. There is, however, a well known story of how the recipe came to be. The urban legend claims a woman who was staying at the Waldorf Astoria in New York loved the cake she had sampled there so much that she wrote to the hotel, asking for the baker's name and a copy of the recipe. The recipe arrived in the mail alongside a rather large bill. The story explains that the woman was so furious, she copied the recipe and sent it to everyone she knew as revenge.

A red velvet cake was featured in the 1989 film Steel Magnolias, which led to a great resurgence of Southerners recreating the recipe for themselves. The armadillo-shaped red velvet cake served as a groom's cake for one of the film's main character.

Red velvet cake frosting is typically a white, creamy color, which serves as a dramatic contrast to the color of the actual cake. Although the types can vary, many stick with a traditional cream cheese frosting. Others might opt for a buttercream frosting which will also do the trick.

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Red Velvet Cake

Please note: I posted on blog: Pop of Color a photo of a Red Velvet Cake we once had in Savannah GA and it was really- really red! So I cut back on the amount of coloring for my first try at this recipe and did 2 TB. If you want more color go for 3 TB. Most recipes called for only 2TB. cocoa which did not seem like enough so I went to 1/4 cup since there was enough sugar in the recipe. Basically a Red Velvet Cake is a a red devils food cake in disguise with yummy cream cheese frosting. It is a showy piece for the holiday entertaining and very moist.

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups of flour
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 TB. red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • crushed pecans

Directions:

  • Preheat oven 350 and grease two cake pans
  • In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt
  • Add buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar,oil and vanilla
  • Beat on low speed just till combined
  • Divide batter in half and bake for 18 minutes till center comes clean with a toothpick
  • Cool in pan 8 minutes then invert on 2 plates that have been covered covered with wax paper-after an hour invert again to cool other side
  • Place one layer on serving dish and frost and add next layer and frost top and sides
  • Sprinkle crushed nuts on sides and top
  • Refrigerate till serving but cake should be at room temperature to serve
Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese softened

2 TB butter softened

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups powered sugar

Add milk a few tablespoons at time to get right consistency using mixer




Friday, February 4, 2011

Soup's On

A featured story in the MPLS Star Tribune (Feb 3, 2011) : Soup Up The Party by Rick Nelson caught my interest. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/taste/115121059.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU
A Minneapolis couple amp up their Super Bowl party with a gathering of friends and family called Soup or Bowl. Each invited guest, who loves to cook, is asked to bring their favorite soup. At a designated time soups are displayed and each cook offers a brief pitch for their recipe. Even though no prizes are awarded it was noted competition can often remain fierce among the soup makers. So if you are looking a different slant for your Super Bowl Sunday gathering this might just be the ticket for you. Check out the article since several soups were featured.
Recently I came across a a blog called Recipe Lion. It is a recipe and cooking website that features recipes, videos, party ideas, healthy eating tips and cooking techniques. Each month they have a theme and you can submit your favorite recipe with the hopes of it being published. The January blog featured 14 soup recipes. Check it out: http://blog.recipelion.com/fabulous-food-friday-january-blog-hop/
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The following are some recipes that would work well for a Super Bowl Party.
Sloppy Joes
Note: Use a Cuisinart to grind meat, onions, celery to get the maximum amount of servings
Serves 45-50
Ingredients:
  • 7 lbs. hamburger
  • 5-6 cups chopped onion
  • 5-7 cups chopped celery
  • 8 cans of lite chicken gumbo soup
  • 2 cups of catsup
  • 1 TB. salt
  • 3 TB. chili powder
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TB. prepared mustard
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 chili sauce
  • 4 cans chunky tomatoes(basil/garlic/oregano)
Directions:
  • Brown meat with onions and celery-drain
  • Add a few cups at a time to Cuisenaire to crumble
  • Add meat mixture to rest of ingredients in a large pot-simmer on low heat 1-1/2 hours
  • Make the day before for best taste
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Cornbread Salad
Ingredients:
1 package of cornbread mix
1 cup sour cream
1 package Ranch dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup each green and red peppers
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 large tomatoes diced or use 2 large containers grape tomatoes
1 cup black beans drained or pinto
1 cup frozen corn thawed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 jar bacon bits
optional: to add a Mexican flair chile peppers and 1 tsp. cumin
Directions:
  • Prepare cornbread according to box directions
  • Cool and cut into small cubes-set aside
  • In a bowl mix mayo, Ranch dressing, sour cream
  • In another bowl mix veggies
  • In a 13 x 9 pan or large glass bowl layer in following manner
half corn bread, half vegetables, half dressing, half cheese and half bacon bits
repeat with rest of ingredients
cover with wax paper and refrigerate till serving




Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Langston Hughes

My soul has grown deep like the rivers

One of my favorite poets was born on this day February 1, Langston Hughes. He was a writer of plays, novels, children's books, poetry, short stories, operettas and newspaper columns. Hughes was probably the foremost poet among African Americans and the first to make a living from his work. He sought not only to sing of Black America in his poems, but to do it in everyday language. He was the first and most successful writer to incorporate African-American musical traditions like blues, jazz and spirituals into literature. In 1926 he published his first book of poetry The Weary Blues. He was one of the earliest innovators of the new literary art form jazz poetry. Despite all his travels and moves, Harlem remained central in his life during the 1920's. He was most impressed with the writings of Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg. During the Harlem Renaissance his literary works helped shape American literature and politics. Through his poetry, novels, essays and children's books he promoted equality, condemned racism and injustice.
One of his poems was turned into a children's book My People with photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr. Even though the book is a brief 33 words long it provides a heartfelt and moving tribute to the beauty of "my people." The photographs are wonderful that accompany the text.
Dreams are a recurring theme in Hughes's work. For Hughes poets are not just dreamers but dream keepers for their people.
The Dream Keeper
Bring me all your dreams,
You dreamers,
Bring me all of your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue-cloud cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
of the world.
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Another book I'd like to recommend is Poetry for Young People Langston Hughes edited by David Roessel and Arnold Rampersad. There is a great introduction/summary of his life and each poem written has information on the meaning Hughes was trying to convey.
The following poem has a powerful message
I,Too
I, too, sing America
I am the darker brother,
They send me to the eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes,
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed-

I, too am America.